There are many top PC game countdowns out there, but they often find themselves to be skewed to the more recent releases. This list looks at not only the technical feats of the game, but also it’s popularity, its longevity and its playability to create a list of the top PC games (and series) of all times – games that have endured and become household names, and games that each of us have and will hold dear memories of. In no particular order they are:
Half Life 1 & 2 – Half Life and its spin offs all rely on a physiques engine that borders on perfect, inspired level design, fantastic action set pieces and solid story line that makes this series a popular number one on all PC count downs. This is one of the few games to truly make you feel as though you are playing a movie and effortlessly bends genres and raises the medium to a higher level of art.
Command & Conquer – The strategy genre has to be one that belongs to the PC, and Command & Conquer is the series that is perhaps most associated with those games. This essentially created the genre in fact, and has since seen countless incarnations.
Halo – So Halo didn’t start on PC technically (though Xbox is arguably the closest console to a PC), but nevertheless it is one of the most enjoyable gaming experiences to be found on one mixing a solid first person shooter with great sweeping set pieces, vehicles and excellent physics.
Duke Nukem – If the PC were to have a mascot in the vein of Sonic the Hedgehog or Mario, you could well make an argument for that mascot being Duke Nukem. While being instantly identifiable and highly popular, the series also has some very solid entries and a range of mediocre spin-offs (a hallmark of any mascot). Few people realise that Duke Nukem actually started life as a 2D side-scrolling platformer from Apogee software which a lot of the people at the time owned as shareware. It’s the brilliantly funny and subversively risque Duke Nukem 3D though that most people associate with the character and which still survives today as a seminal example of a 1st person shooter. Sadly, since Duke Nuke forever was cancelled (after years in the making) the future of the franchise seems uncertain.
Jazz Jack Rabbit – Jazz Jack Rabbit is now old enough that many people will never have heard of him, but back in the days of 2D platformers he was one of the most identifiable gaming characters around. A fact helped by a sequel that outdid its predecessor and had one of the catchiest soundtracks in video game history. Rumours about a return for the rabbit are rife in internet chat rooms.
Medal of Honour – Despite strong competition from games like Crysis, Medal of Honour must be the most loved first person shooter of the last few years with incredibly atmospheric levels that make you feel like you’re really in a war zone and one of the most successful multiplayer modes ever.
The Quake Series – It was quake that pretty much designed the ‘deathmatch’ style 1st person shooter and dominated online games for years. While it has since lost its way a little, the first three instalments were all highly popular and continually improved on their predecessors.
Worms – Worms represents that type of ‘gaming gold’ that can genuinely appeal to all demographics. A turn based game that’s actually fun it was perfect fodder for parties and some versions have also featured popular online modes. Unfortunately it has recently struggled with an ill-advised transition to 3D.
Unreal – Unreal was the only series to really pose much of a threat to Quake, and the first game also boasted one of the first times a game would let you move seamlessly from the outdoors to the indoors. The Unreal engine would fuel many future games around this time, including a few others on this list.
Doom – Of course Doom needs to make the list of any top PC games countdown. As one of the first successful 1st person shooters (right behind Frankenstein) and also one of the scariest games of its time, this has a place in the hearts of many older gamers (and the recent Doom 3 wasn’t too bad either).
List by Dimitri Konchin
Top 10 PC Games and many other interesting top ten lists are available on author’s site.