Asking what the best PC games are is a tall order to say the least. PC gaming is an institution and has so many great titles to choose from. Picking the best of these is somewhat futile, because everyone has their own opinion, but there are some games that are synonymous with the rise of the PC, and those are the titles we will focus on.
Where to start? Hmmm…okay, I got it: Half-Life. This Valve developed first-person-shooter will certainly go down in history as one of the best and most influential FPS titles of all time Whereas most shooters will engage in tunnel vision and require the player to go from Point A to Point B with little thought to the immersiveness of the environment, Half-Life flipped this common formula by creating a living narrative around the user. From the very start, the game places you right in the shoes of the silent protagonist, Gordon Freeman, as he prepares for another day of work at the ominous and impressive Black Mesa Research Facility.
The power of the ‘feeling of place’ that Valve is able to squeeze out of the Half-Life experience is still truly second to none, and other than the sequel (naturally), no game has been able to recreate this immediate sense of being transported into a fully-realized universe.
We are living in a world of loot, and we can thank Diablo 2 for this. The isometric dungeon-crawler series by the great developers at Blizzard Entertainment, Diablo 2 brought a new audience to the high-fantasy, action-rpg genre, and in doing so, helping usher in the “level up” mentality that is a mainstay in almost every major AAA-title released today. With the ability to pick up loot dropped from defeated enemies, customize your equipment and level up in power and skill, Diablo 2 continues to have a large audience still playing the game, even 13 years after it was first released.
Blizzard proved its pedigree with Diablo 2, but it was World of Warcraft that made Blizzard an industry behemoth. The game that made the MMORPG genre a mainstay, WoW allows friends (and strangers alike) to join forces and explore the vast and beautiful lands of Azeroth. Creating your own highly customized character from a series of badass archetypes, you start from the bottom and level up to reach the highest rungs of power and influence.
Many gamers consider themselves to be smart. Well, now you can prove that enormous intellect with Portal, the genius puzzle game by the genius developers at Valve. As a research test subject, you must use your brain, and your handy portal gun, to solve increasingly difficult puzzles, all while dealing with the most passive-aggressive AI ever created: GlaDOS. Funny and immersive, Portal has an amazing ability to make users think outside the box and in a way that forces them to use cerebral skills instead of twitch muscles in the thumb. If there is anyone who thinks games are dumb, unintelligent forms of entertainment, then they obviously have not played Portal.
BioWare has been a major industry player for years, and it was Star Wars: Knight of the Old Republic that truly put them on the map. Sadly (or not, depends on how you look at it), the writing in KOTOR is mountains above that found in the underwhelming Star Wars prequel films. Smart, witty and thoughtful dialogue makes the impressive and entertaining storylines that much more memorable. This is the experience a Star Wars fan deserves, and BioWare hit it out of the park.
PC’s are the playground for strategy lovers two titles come to mind when considering the greatest of these: Civilization and StarCraft. Civilization, a turn-based title from the great mind of Sid Meier, is all about leading your nation to glory. Build armies, create timeless Wonders and institute smart political policies to either dominate your neighbours with an iron fist, or bring in a golden age of reason and peace. If you ever wanted to be a digital dictator, Civilization provides countless ways to become either a psychotic despot or benevolent ruler.
StarCraft brings the intensity of full-scale, real-time war to the user, allowing you to build and lead an army against your intergalactic enemies. Take the reins and command the Protoss, Zerg or Terran forces using quick-thinking and a killer instinct as you direct your infantry, cavalry and support units in a real-time battle. Fast-paced and unforgiving, StarCraft 2 takes immense skill to master, but the depth of play will guarantee that the ascension to the top of the ranks will be a seriously enjoyable one.
These titles have defined the first 30 years of PC gaming, and will certainly inspire the next 30 years. Considering the greatness of the games listed, we are in for