Oct. 28th, 2008

sirandrew: (Default)
In honor of the release of Fallout 3, here are the top ten games I've ever played.  Please note, this is a subjective list, not an attempt at an objective best ever.  Also, for ease games with very similar and improved sequels are lumped together.

10. IL2 Sturmovik/Pacific Battles/IL21946 - Simply the finest Air Combat simulation available.  What's amazing is that this game, made in 2001, holds up perfectly well today both in graphics and gameplay.  This game would never have made the list on initial release, but constant expansion packs that let you fly almost every major aircraft on the Eastern Front and Pacific Theatre in WW2 for every involved side (even minor nations like Finland and Hungary) has made this a game that I refuse to have off my hard drive.  The game also includes a brilliant dynamic campaign that was actually added by the devs in response to fan requests.  Kudos for the designers listening to their fans for a change.
9. Total War Series - I keep going back to these games, over and over.  The latest release, Medieval II is pure historicaly rich crack for me.  The only game I've been looking forward to as much as Fallout 3 is next year's Empire Total War, bringing the series into the age of muskets.  Couple this new release with the fact that modders absolutely obsess over making new expansions for this game and you've got an instant classic.
8. Wargame Construction Set 3: The Age of Rifles - Not many people know of this one, but it was SERIOUS goodness if you were at all into Wargames in the 90's.  Simply put, this was an easy to learn wargame that covered every single major conflict of the 19th Century.  This is toally comprehensive, totally.  No other game has ever allowed you to play battles from the Chilean-Peruvian Pacific War, Sikh Rebellion, Russo-Japanese War, Franco-Austrian War, US-Korean conflict of 1871, Crimean War, among many, many others.  You simply can't run out of stuff to do in this game.  There were no simple hex counters here, battlefields were richly designed and the troops under your command fought in well displayed and historically accurate uniforms of the period.  If these games could take hi-res they'd look better than some wargames released in 2008.  Even better, the editor included was robust and easy to use.  Historical battles appeared from modders at almost a daily pace.
7. X-Com - Wow, you mean I get to shoot down UFO's and investigate them with commandos, then reverse engineer their technology and uncover a vast alien plot to conquer the world?  Wait, and I also get to fully develop a world wide selection of UFO hunting bases, recruit new soldiers, thwart abductions, invest in governments in order to win them over to my side and use psychic powers to actually mind control alien invaders?  Dude, you had me at hello.  Seriously, why the heck aren't there more X-Com games?  I don't know of anyone that didn't love them. What's crazier is, you can still play the original and have a great time, it's seriously that good.  There are few games released even nowadays that are as deep as this thing was over 10 years ago.
6. Knights of the Old Republic  - Somebody finally did a great Star Wars RPG, which would be enough for me right there to list this as a favorite.  What's even better was that this game had a deeper, more engaging story than any of Lucas' prequels, and was a top notch translations of Star Wars D20 to a computer setting.  The plot twist in this, though I kinda saw it coming, was one of the most amazing story turns done in a PC game.  Moreover, being evil in this game was really, truly EVIL.  Where else can you force your wookie slave to beat his beloved best friend to death while you cackle mercilessly?
5. TIE Fighter - Speaking of the dark side, TIE Fighter is in my opinion the best Star Wars game ever made.  The sequel to X-Wing was the very first Star Wars game to be from the viewpoint of the Empire, a plot device that could've been done very poorly if the developers weren't careful.  What they delivered was amazing.  Instead of being on the side of a slimy, totally unsympathetic Empire, you got to see the struggle from the Empire's point of view.  You weren't fighting to give the universe over to the Sith, you were fighting to secure peace and justice in the galaxy against rebel terrorists who were tied to the old, ineffective oligarcy whose indifference had left your home world wrecked in Civil War that only the Empire had the will to end. The darker, more nefarious Imperial activities were kept well out of your view, unless you chose to take on a few optional "side missions" that would eventually lead to you becoming one of the Emperor's personal hit men and a pilot in Vader's own squadron.  Gameplay wise, this was no arcadey shoot em up, rather it was a pretty decent simulation with complex managment of you fighter and very different flight models for each TIE variant you got to pilot.  I seriously would only let myself play a mission a day on this game because I never wanted to be done with it.   
4. Star Control 2 - Unlke most of the world, I actually played Star Control 1, a simple expansion of the first ever game, SpaceWar.  Star Control 2 was about as far from its predecessor as my current computer is away from an abacus.  Taking the one on one skirmish from the previous game and pasting it onto a deep RPG heavily inspired from the classic Starflight series, Star Control 2 was pure electronic genius.  This is another one of those rare games that still holds up today, even though it's now over a decade old.  You can even play a free updated version of it that is every bit as fun as the original.
3. Starflight 1-2 - From the days when your sound card was your PC speaker comes Starflight, a space based RPG from the late 1980's.  This was literally the first PC game I'd ever played, and it wowed me with its incredible immersiveness and feeling of vast size.  Very few games have ever had the feeling of being a real space explorer as Starflight, where you set out into the unknown with just a ship, a map of stars and an empty cargo hold.  Starflight starts out as a sandbox and ends up as a very deep story in which you have the job of saving the entire galaxy.  Starflight 2 was more of the same, just with a bigger universe and more races to interact with.  Starflight inspired many many imitators, including the brilliant Star Control 2 which was a very good refinement of the Star Flight experience.
2. Fallout 1-2 - This was a hard choice for #2, and almost made it to #1.  This was simply the best RPG ever made, and was such a massive sandbox of a game that the sheer number of choices you had while playing are impossible to list here.  The game had the guts to let your choices have REAL consequences.  Actions taken in this game cut off entire sections of gameplay, immensely adding to replay value and putting real weight in your decisions.  You could really play this as an RPG too.  Combat was optional, if you were a Charsima based character with a lot of luck, you could literally talk your way though all of Fallout 1 and most of Fallout 2.  The game had no fear of showing the horrors of post-apocalypse living either.  Drugs, prostitution, murder, slavery, child killing, they all happened in this game and if you were sick enough, you could participate in them.  What other game let you marry a woman and sell her into slavery on the streets of New Reno for a hit of the drug Jet?  I was fortunately a good guy and didn't do that, but the fact that it was a possibility demonstrates how much thought they put into this game.  Also, this game has the best ending ever.  Instead of just getting a simple cutscene with generic baddy dying followed by credits, you actually get to see a long multi-part explanation of how your actions impact history.  This game gives you real satisfaction.  
1. Civilization 1-4 - Best games I've ever played.  I almost put this #2, but I remembered how I've kept the latest incarnation of every Civ game always installed on my hard disk ever since I had Civ 1 back in the stone age.  No other game lets you build an empire from the stone age to the space age in such a fun and intuitive way.  It's really not necessary to explain much further, this one really just speaks for itself.  The series has had its ups and downs, but through it all this is the most addictive game ever played.  If you don't agree, well, my words are backed by nuclear weapons!

Honorable mentions: Half Life 1-2, Deus Ex, Elite 1-2, M1 Tank Platoon, Red Baron 1- 2, Starcraft, Wing Commander 1-4


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