Jump to content
rllmuk
Sign in to follow this  
Wiper

The Greatest PC Games of All Time: The Results - Top 5 now up.

Recommended Posts

Just a heads up that I may not be able to put the top 10-6 up tomorrow, as I'd planned. I'm working overtime until 15:00, which I figured would leave me enough time to add my comments, but my dad has, wonderfully, decided that he's visiting tomorrow and that we're putting him up for the night, so I've got to keep him occupied all day instead. This, coupled with the fact that on Sunday I'm off to Bosworth Field, means that I may not get a chance to write up my thoughts until Sunday evening. I will try to get things pre-written tonight if I can, but in case I can't, my apologies in advance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This thread gives me the urge to plunder through the GOG catalogue. I lot of early PC gaming had passed me by.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is there an easy way to play grim fandango these days?

Yeah, as long as you have a copy of the game to rip the assets from, it's easy enough to play on PC or Mac using ResidualVM.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As you've doubtless realised, I have, as feared, been unable to write up my commentary this weekend. I'm putting the bottom half of the top ten together now, and it will be up tomorrow at 18:00. Apologies for the delay!

  • Upvote 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Did you enjoy Bosworth Field? Their revamped museum is pretty good, but their vague waving to the distance and a bit of a shamefaced "it's really over there" was slightly disappointing last time I went. I mean, I know it's two miles away and it's someone's farm, but I'm sure they could address it a bit better.

You have my thanks for the commentary too. Very entertaining and as I share many of your prejudices, I'm usually smugly nodding as I read.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We did enjoy it, though didn't actually visit the museumy bit - spent the entire day watching the jousting/re-enactments/melee/falconing and browsing the medieval village - and it seems as though the better half enjoyed it even more than me, so a definite success! Now to find some other historic re-enactments a reasonable distance from Nottingham...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

10. System Shock 2 - with 13 votes. Average placement: 5th. Voted the greatest PC game of all time by daveodeth and earlymodernsteve.
This is how you do survival horror. People describe Bioshock as a spiritual successor, a version of System Shock 2 streamlined for the masses. I don't think these people have played System Shock 2. Bioshock is a great game. It's a decent FPS with a great environments, a great story, and a few moments of tension. System Shock 2 is a game of desperate resource management, puzzle solving under duress, and constant, nauseating terror. You'd think that the dated graphics would take away from the fear. You'd be wrong.

A game which understands the power of loneliness, System Shock 2 uses it not only as a tool to emphasise your helplessness, but uses the whisper of company, far in the distance, as a powerful motivator. Whether that company is friendly, ambiguous, or antagonistic, you'll want to find the few verbose characters in the game - any kind of conversation is welcome relief from the broken husks that populate your ship.

It's also a game which knows how to use the environmnent to tell a story. Not just through the destruction and detritus left over by the Many, but through the very architecture itself, and your character's perception of it. Virtually nothing in System Shock 2 is beautiful, but everything tells a story.

It has its flaws, certainly. The closing sequence is jarring, to say the least. And... um, actually, that's about it. I guess it could be considered a flaw that the final cutscene sets up a sequel that would never happen? It certainly bothers me. There's also the fact that I can't play the game any more as the knot in my chest is too much to cope with. I think that's more a problem with me, though.

Yeah, System Shock 2 is something special. It features the greatest antagonist in any game, source of my avatar for over a decade now, but it's testament to the game's quality that she isn't the source of its brilliance, merely a facet of it. It's a brilliant game, still more than playable. It's also, finally, available to purchase once more, digitally. If you've never tried it, you absolutely owe it to yourself to grab a copy for yourself. As an added bonus, it'll run on pretty much any machine available. I can't imagine many nettops would struggle to run it. No excuses - give it a go.

10. TIE Fighter - with 11 votes. Average placement: 4th. Voted the greatest PC game of all time by Bennyman and PC Master Race.
Gosh. If any of the titles in the top 10 surprised me, it was this one. Not for want of quality - some of my fondest gaming memories consist of pootling around in a TIE Defender, absorbing blasts from puny X-Wings and demolishing them with my overwhelming array of weaponry. No, I was just pleasantly surprised to see this, emissary of a dead genre, holding so dear a place in so many people's hearts.


TIE Fighter took the superb dogfighting of X-Wing, kicked the graphics up a notch (Gouraud shading, phwooar!), and added an incredibly satisfying campaign in the employ of the Empire. It embroiled the player in intrigues and shadowy missions, threw every possible kind of battle into the mix, and made you damn proud to be the emperor's fist.

Later games would either drop the single-player campaign and so the core appeal, or spend too much time paying lipservice to the films and storyline and not enough to the actual combat, but this, this was a slice of gaming heaven. Totally Games have since ebbed to obscurity, and Lucasarts have disappeared entirely as a gaming entity, but they will always have this one, glorious moment. But the most incredible thing about TIE Fighter is this: it's just as playable now as it ever was, assuming you can get it to work. Where other games of its era have become relics, lumbered with awkward interfaces, no friendly introductions, or simply unbearable graphics, TIE Fighter is seemingly ageless in its design, just as easy to get into now as it was 19 years ago. And that's quite the feat.

Long live the emperor!

8. Civilization II - with 13 votes. Average placement: 5th
Daft Punk, Star Wars, Civilization - sometimes two really is the magic number. I'd like to describe just how Civilization 2 distinguished itself from its predecessor, but the fact that I never actually played the original Civilization makes that somewhat problematic (aside from the bit where it was considerably less ugly, which screenshots alone were able to tell me). I can begin to explain just why it is more fondly remembered than its sequels, however.

Part of it is nostalgia, of course. Civilization II is always going to be the more important game, establishing the patterns that the later games would follow, and it's more memorable for that. But nostalgia isn't all. Civilization II is a game of grand scope, of course - conquer the world, in one way or another - but it's also surprisingly elegant in its design. The scale may be grand, but your options, as a leader, are always relatively limited. There's no risk of spiralling into overwhelming complexity, no chance of misunderstanding what the game wants you to do. Success may not be guaranteed, but you'll always know your aims, and have an idea of how to achieve them.

Its elegance isn't mechanical alone, either. Though far from a beautiful looking game, there is a purity to Civilization II's presentation which is missing in its later iterations, the simplistic graphics of military units and and cities standing out as if to emphasise the player's viewpoint as a leader moving representations around on a map; something the later games, with their more sophisticated graphics, lost. Of course, the relatively simple graphics and mechanics had another side-effect, too: Civilization II was a game easy to modify, and many a player found themselves benefitting from the tweaking of others, trying out completely new scenarios and rulesets: just in case the randomised maps and multiple victory conditions didn't make the game endless enough already.

But, in the end, the real reason it's Civilization II here, and not its sequels, is simple: it came first, and while the later games made some changes, they've all been cut from its cloth, and the changes they have made are often seen more as diluting the formula, than adding to it. Civilization II, then, is the natural choice for fans of the series.

Doesn't explain why Alpha Centauri languishes so far down the list, however, but we can't have everything.

7. Portal - with 16 votes. Average placement: 6th. Voted the greatest PC game of all time by SuperNashwan.
The one unquestionable boon to first-person gaming that Valve have seen fit to gift us. Evolving from the curious Narbacular Drop, Portal wowed gamers by proving that puzzle games didn't have to revolve around moving blocks around, that adventure games didn't need dialogue, and that first-person games with crosshairs didn't need to involve destructive gameplay. Well, unless destroying the laws of physics counts. Oh, and by proving that a game could star two female main (and indeed, only gendered) characters* without the world collapsing in on itself.

Here are the things that Portal did perfectly:
Everything.

Or, to break it down:

  • It is funny.
  • It is challenging.
  • It is well paced.
  • It is surprisingly dramatic.
  • It is filled with brilliant monologues.
  • It fills every character with personality. Even the inanimate ones.
  • It is funny.

It was also a very, very short game. However, in this case, this just meant that every single moment of the game was a joy - every puzzle fresh, every snippet of speech a delight, every joke funny. Portal was never boring because it never gave you the time to be bored. It was the perfect exercise in delivering a lean, focussed product. The narrative was never allowed to get in the way of gameplay, with no cut-scenes lasting over a half-minute, no self-indulgent dialogue to get in the way; and, at the same time, the narrative was a driving force behind the gameplay, willing you on to beat every puzzle, to figure out just how you were going to beat the wonderfully deadpan GLaDOS. It, quite simply, succeeded in everything it attempted to do, in every way it could hope to. Portal is very definition of all killer, no filler.

In other words, yeah, it's pretty good.

6. Day of the Tentacle - with 12 votes. Average placement: 4th. Voted the greatest PC game of all time by Backwater, Grobbelboy, Richard_Pearson and TheRustySnowman.
I don't think it's much of a spoiler to say that this is the highest-ranking Lucasarts adventure. And it bloody well deserves to be.

No other adventure games have managed to make their puzzles as jointly logical and funny as Day of the Tentacle's; imbued not only with brain-teasing challenges, almost every puzzle, every solution has a punchline. relying on natural leaps of logic and use and abuse of its time-spanning characters, rather than try-everything-on-everything gameplay. Whether you're working out how to transport a hamster to the future safely (freezer), how to get access to a tentacle disguise in the future (change the design of the prototypical American flag to a tentacle suit in the past), how to win a beauty contest using only a bandaged money (many, many props), or how to get rid of a pesky tree (paint it the colour of a cherry tree, then point George Washington at it), every puzzle manages to be as funny as it is clever, every solution a punchline.

Good puzzles alone wouldn't be enough to elevate Day of the Tentacle to the top 10, however. Fortunate, then, that the story is equal parts absurd and brilliant, keeping you guessing as it throws more idiotic, hilarious situations your way. It's filled with brilliant characters, with voice-acting that puts most games to shame; that would be impressive enough now, but considering the game was released in 1993, a positively incredible feat. It also has a fully functional version of its predecessor, Maniac Mansion, available to play on one of the character's computers in the game. Because why not?

Oh, and there's one other thing: Day of the Tentacle is beautiful. I don't mean "beautiful for a game from 1993", I mean utterly beautiful. The animation is masterful, but the real stars are the backgrounds: all bizarre angles and astonishing perspectives, they show just how much can be done using 2D art, even when limited to a tiny resolution of 320x200. The amount of character, the strength of atmosphere imbued in every room is unmatched by any other adventure (though Sam and Max and Grim Fandango come close), and that is a damned shame.

I'm glad Day of the Tentacle made it comfortably into the top 10. Not just because I'm glad to see an adventure game faring so well, but because it absolutely deserves to be here, and absolutely deserves to be played by anyone with an interest in adventure games. It hasn't aged a day, and is inarguably the greatest comedy adventure game ever written. It never got a sequel, and it didn't need one: it's a perfectly complete story, needing no follow-up. It's just a shame that no adventure game has since matched it. The genre never died - it just peaked early.

*assuming you consider an AI with a woman's voice to be gendered

  • Upvote 9

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

System shock 2 at 10! Fuck all you's.

I was pretty pleased with 10th, to be honest; glad to see it reach the top 10. Of course, I only voted it 7th in the first place, so it wasn't too far off my own preference for position anyway.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

12. Quake - with 12 votes. Average placement: 5th.
Never played it. Watched my cousin play it, though. It seemed rather brown.

Just as a counterpoint - if nothing else this deserves to be highly regarded because of the standards around 3D graphics, modding, latency handling and other aspects of online multiplayer gaming that it set (mostly in Quakeworld) which are taken for granted today. And Threewave CTF was fucking wicked.

  • Upvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It just means the top 3 are gonna be bloody good. No pressure.

I probably shouldn't mention that I'd rate all of the top 6-10 games over 4 of the top 5...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just as a counterpoint - if nothing else this deserves to be highly regarded because of the standards around 3D graphics, modding, latency handling and other aspects of online multiplayer gaming that it set (mostly in Quakeworld) which are taken for granted today. And Threewave CTF was fucking wicked.

Yes, yes and yes. I'd rather play Q3a out of the two, but there's no doubt Quake is the daddy of the FPS genre. Online gaming back then was unbelievably exciting, it's kinda sad that magic will never be recaptured.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it's telling that the recent hoax/joke about the deathmatch bots achieving almost-sentience after running for several years was using Q3A.

Moreso that it was even sort of plausible. That's the kind of esteem that game had.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, surprised that DOTT is the highest ranked SCUMM game. I'm guessing it was bundled with a lot of people's Gateway PCs then. I mean, it's brilliant obviously but MI2 and Indy Atlantis are significantly better games.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, surprised that DOTT is the highest ranked SCUMM game. I'm guessing it was bundled with a lot of people's Gateway PCs then. I mean, it's brilliant obviously but MI2 and Indy Atlantis are significantly better games.

You are the wrongest wrong that ever did wrong, chap. Clearly the order of SCUMMy brilliance is:

DOTT

Full Throttle

S&M

MI2

Fate of Atlantis

MI1

MI3

The Dig

Loom

Maniac Mansion

The Last Crusade

Zak McKracken*

(and I played MI1 and 2 first (on ST and a friend's Amiga, respectively), then S&M, DOTT and Fate of Atlantis I got as a set in '94/'95, so it's hardly an opinion formed by the order in which I played them).

*I never actually played this one

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

8. Civilization II - with 13 votes. Average placement: 5th

Daft Punk, Star Wars, Civilization - sometimes two really is the magic number. I'd like to describe just how Civilization 2 distinguished itself from its predecessor, but the fact that I never actually played the original Civilization makes that somewhat problematic (aside from the bit where it was considerably less ugly, which screenshots alone were able to tell me). I can begin to explain just why it is more fondly remembered than its sequels, however.

Part of it is nostalgia, of course. Civilization II is always going to be the more important game, establishing the patterns that the later games would follow, and it's more memorable for that. But nostalgia isn't all. Civilization II is a game of grand scope, of course - conquer the world, in one way or another - but it's also surprisingly elegant in its design. The scale may be grand, but your options, as a leader, are always relatively limited. There's no risk of spiralling into overwhelming complexity, no chance of misunderstanding what the game wants you to do. Success may not be guaranteed, but you'll always know your aims, and have an idea of how to achieve them.

Its elegance isn't mechanical alone, either. Though far from a beautiful looking game, there is a purity to Civilization II's presentation which is missing in its later iterations, the simplistic graphics of military units and and cities standing out as if to emphasise the player's viewpoint as a leader moving representations around on a map; something the later games, with their more sophisticated graphics, lost. Of course, the relatively simple graphics and mechanics had another side-effect, too: Civilization II was a game easy to modify, and many a player found themselves benefitting from the tweaking of others, trying out completely new scenarios and rulesets: just in case the randomised maps and multiple victory conditions didn't make the game endless enough already.

But, in the end, the real reason it's Civilization II here, and not its sequels, is simple: it came first, and while the later games made some changes, they've all been cut from its cloth, and the changes they have made are often seen more as diluting the formula, than adding to it. Civilization II, then, is the natural choice for fans of the series.

Doesn't explain why Alpha Centauri languishes so far down the list, however, but we can't have everything.

The relative commercial sales would explain that one quite easily, Alpha Centauri sold significantly worse than any Civ game, which explains both its relative position and why we'll likely never see another one, the mass public, even gamers prefer history to the future. Well at least both of Brian Reynolds' designs got a decent amount of recognition. Still never played proper Civ, despite owning this game, the historical setting doesn't do it for me.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting idea, perhaps it was a trend of the time though. Because sci-fi films and alike are now the biggest selling theme currently, need only look at all the blockbusters this year!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would say that Alpha Centauri's aesthetic probably didn't help too much: sci-fi universes can offer beauty and dazzling, new sights; Alpha Centauri mostly offered pinky-brown mud and wormy aliens. But, yeah, its lack of popularity is a crying shame (and it remains the only boxed 4X game I bought at release).

Though, you know a 4X game unfairly forgotten? Imperium Galactica. Fantastic bloody game, that, 4X gameplay tied to a story-led campaign.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maniac Mansion is a much more ambitious game than DoTT. Tentacle is good, but it's really "just a point-and-click" game, that happens to be rather wonderfully written and beautiful.

MM is like some ugly, frustrating, otherworldy experiment, but by golly, what an experiment.

Hmm, I don't think I argued that very well. I prefer MM, maddening though it is in 2013.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, but MM is inside DOTT, so DOTT is clearly better ;)

Maniac Mansion is certainly the most important SCUMM game, and its experimental nature (the multiple characters, multiple paths, timetabled movement of antagonistic characters) is certainly interesting, but it was a game I always found too clunky to enjoy when I first played it in the early '90s.

It's also interesting to see the few later games which ran with the discarded ideas - Quest for Glory's multiple characters and paths; The Legend of Kyrandia's multiple solutions; Lure of the Temptress's living city.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, but MM is inside DOTT, so DOTT is clearly better ;)

You win with maths. Congrats. :)

Maniac Mansion is certainly the most important SCUMM game, and its experimental nature (the multiple characters, multiple paths, timetabled movement of antagonistic characters) is certainly interesting, but it was a game I always found too clunky to enjoy when I first played it in the early '90s.

I've only played it on a PSP with a drifting analogue nub. Clunky is not even the word!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. Use of this website is subject to our Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, and Guidelines.