The Best PC Games Of The Decade
by, 01-03-2010 at 09:44 AM (36861 Views)
With the decade now a thing of the past, I thought it would be nice to look back at the last 10 years in PC gaming. The listing is not numbered simply because there would be no way to rank one game over another in a fair and impartial manner. You could debate this topic for the next ten decades and still not have a decisive winner. Deus Ex over Half Life 2? KOTOR over Oblivion? It is all in the eye of the beholder. Of course, there will be those who cry foul about their favorite game not being listed, but you can not please everyone.
The following games are the best in their respective genres according to my personal taste and how good I thought the game was. Instead of writing a summary of each game, I decided to write a brief sentence on particular games I felt the need to explain or have a personal story to tell. Most of the titles listed do not need any description as they stand on their own. As such, some of these games you will know quite well, while others you may be seeing for the first time. For the latter, I hope you will explore these games and give them a try. Whether it be a demo or a game bought on sale, every single game on this list deserves to be played at least once.
I only gave myself a few rules while creating this list. I was not going to put more than one game of the same title on the list. In other words, I had to choose either Max Payne or Max Payne 2. Another rule was that I tried to keep each genre to 10 titles or less. Anymore than that would dilute the entire reason for a "best of" list. There are 70 titles within 8 categories. I hope you enjoy reading the list as much as I did putting it together. Please use the links below to jump to your favorite genre. You can also jump back to the top of this article using the link below the end of each listing.
EDIT: The navigation links are once again working. I apologize for the inconvenience.
FIRST/THIRD PERSON SHOOTERS:
Deus Ex - June 22, 2000 - Ion Storm
I discovered Deus Ex because my cousin purchased a Voodoo 5 5500 which came bundled with Deus Ex and Unreal Tournament. He did not want either. Hooray for me.
Half Life 2 - November 16, 2004 - Valve
Max Payne - July 25, 2001 - Remedy
Along with Deus Ex, High Heat and Unreal Tournament, Max Payne was instrumental in getting me involved with PC gaming.
Bioshock - August 21, 2007 - 2K Boston
Doom 3 - August 3, 2004 - id Software
The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay - December 8, 2004 - Starbreeze Studios
Call of Duty 2 -October 25, 2005 - Infinity Ward
Medal of Honor: Allied Assault - January 22, 2002 - 2015 Inc
F.E.A.R. - October 17, 2005 - Monolith Productions
Crysis - November 13, 2007 - Crytech
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Baldur's Gate II - September 24, 2000 - BioWare
Fallout 3 - October 28, 2008 - Bethesda
I am not sure if there was another game that fanned the flames of hate between gamers more than this one. Either you loved it or you loathed it. I had never played through Fallout or Fallout 2 which is probably why I enjoyed the game so much. For the most part, those who did play the prior installments seemed to be the ones that had issues. I spent over 50 hours on this title and loved every minute of it.
Knights of the Old Republic - November 19, 2003 - BioWare
Next to the Timothy Zahn trilogy of books, this game has the best told story in the Star Wars universe.
Diablo II - June 29, 2000 - Blizzard North
Mass Effect - May, 28 2008 - Demiurge Studios/BioWare
The Witcher - October 30, 2007 - CD Projekt
CD Projekt should be given an award or medal for its work on The Witcher. How many developers do you know of that would systematically update almost all of the dialogue, install new animations and add new quests? In a bold move, those who bought the original game were given the updated, "Enhanced Version" free of charge. Normally, this type of attention would be given to the game by the modding community,.but the fact that CD Projekt took it upon themselves to fix what was broken should be commended. It's also something every company should be striving to do.
Neverwinter Nights - June 18, 2002 - BioWare
Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines - November 16, 2004 - Troika Games
Another fantastic game riddled by bugs and unplayability for some. Troika folded just months after release and it was up to the modding community to continue supporting the game. Modders have released several patches and fixes to VMB over the years which has resulted in a better gaming experience for those just getting started.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - March 20, 2006 - Bethesda
Dragon Age: Origins - November 9, 2009 - BioWare Edmonton
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Civilization IV - October 25, 2005 - Firaxis Games
Warcraft III - July 3, 2002 - Blizzard Entertainment
Company of Heroes - September 12, 2006 - Relic Entertainment
Sins of a Solar Empire - February 4, 2008 - Ironclad Games
Dawn of War - September 20, 2004 - Relic Entertainment
Rome: Total War - September 22, 2004 - The Creative Assembly
World In Conflict - September 18, 2007 - Massive Entertainment
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NASCAR Racing Season 2003 - February 13, 2003 - Papyrus
Tiger Woods 2004 - September 20, 2003 - EA Sports
Links 2001 - October 24, 2000 - Microsoft Game Studios
High Heat Baseball 2002 - March 13, 2001 - 3DO
Madden NFL 2003 - August 12, 2002 - EA Tiburon
NBA 2K10 - Visual Concepts - October 12, 2009
Kudos to 2K for reinvigorating the PC sports genre.
Race Driver: GRID - June 3, 2008 - Codemasters
Flatout 2 - August 1, 2006 - Bugbear
Burnout Paradise: The Ultimate Box - February 5, 2009 - Criterion
Need For Speed: Most Wanted - November 11, 2005 - EA Black Box
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It was really a poor decade for sports games on the PC. While the first few years were good, EA Sports released some of the worst sports titles ever produced. There is no greater example of sloppy ports and consolitis than there is in the PC sports genre. Up until 2007 when EA stopped producing Madden, Tiger Woods and NBA games, EA released only PS2 ports. The fanbase was promised titles with next generation graphics for years and nothing ever came of those promises. Mainstream media outlets stopped reviewing the EA PC sports titles altogether after a while. It was not until the 08 games did PC gamers even see widescreen support. Even then, all menus and overlays were stretched using 800x600 resolution making the game just plain ugly. In 2003, 3DO released High Heat 2004 which destroyed all that was great about the previous installments by using the console interface instead of the point and click PC interface that, in my opinion, is still the best GUI implementation in any sports game ever. The overlays were also a sore spot for some. The original overlays for High Heat 2004 took up almost the entire screen even when using a 1600x1200 screen resolution. An obvious case of sloppy seconds. These and many other issues were thankfully solved by the hard work of modders. I suppose all of these problems can be directly related to the fact that there was only one company making graphically based sports games for the PC.
Peggle - February 27, 2007 - PopCap - OFFICIAL SITE
My first game of Peggle lasted 2 1/2 hours. Anyone who recommends this game should be considered a drug dealer. An episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation entitled, "The Game", is a prime example of what can happen to a person who decides to play Peggle.
Plants vs. Zombies - May 5, 2009 - PopCap - DEMO
Diner Dash - December 3, 2003 - Gamelab - OFFICIAL SITE
Known as Dash Games, or even Time Management by some, they are big business in the casual market. These games are to the PC what FPS have become on consoles. Diner Dash has sprouted more dash games than any other title. Along with PopCap, PlayFirst (publisher/dev) have created the empire that is casual gaming. Some of these games have even been developed for the DS, PSP and consoles.
Audiosurf - February 15, 2008 - Dylan Fitterer - DEMO VIA STEAM
Do you have a collection of MP3s? Do you like video games? If you said yes to even one, you must play Audiosurf.
World of Goo - October 13, 2008 - 2D Boy - OFFICIAL SITE
Trine - October 22, 2009 - Frozenbyte -OFFICIAL SITE
Braid - April 10, 2009 - Number None, Inc - OFFICIAL SITE
Aquaria - December 7, 2007 - Bit Blot -DEMO
Aquaria is a top notch side scrolling underwater RPG. Great story and fantastic art design headline this indie title.
Bejeweled - May 30, 2001 - PopCap - OFFICIAL SITE
This is what started it all for PopCap.
Crayon Physics Deluxe - January 7, 2009 - Petri Purho - DEMO
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Left 4 Dead - November 17, 2008 - Valve
Unreal Tournament 2004 - Mar 16, 2004 - Epic Games
Team Fortress 2 - October 10, 2007 - Valve
World of Warcraft - November 23, 2004 - Blizzard
Everquest II - November 8, 2004 - Sony Online Entertainment
Counter-Strike: Source - October 7, 2004 - Valve
Battlefield 2 - Jun 21, 2005 - Digital Illusions
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Flight Simulator 2002 - Oct 19, 2001 - Microsoft Game Studios
Sid Meier's Railroads - October 17, 2006 - Firaxis Games
The Sims - January 31, 2000 - Maxis
Silent Hunter III - March 15, 2005 - Ubisoft Romania
IL-2 Sturmovik - November 19, 2001 - Maddox Games
Black & White - March 27, 2001 - Lionhead Studios
SimCity 4 - January 14, 2003 - Maxis
Out of the Park Baseball 9 - June 2008 - OOTP Developments
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Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast - Mar 26, 2002 - Raven Software
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas - June 7, 2005 - Rockstar North
Choosing which GTA game to place on this list was probably my toughest task. How can one not pick a masterpiece such as Vice City, or a groundbreaking game like GTA III? It is difficult to rate a series when you can only select one. I tried really hard to choose games that set the tone for other quality titles to follow. That is why Max Payne 1 and the original Sims are listed and the sequels are not. In the end, it came down to the huge open world that was San Andreas.
Portal - October 9, 2007 - Valve
Beyond Good and Evil - November 11, 2003 - Ubisoft Milan
Along with Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines, Beyond Good and Evil is another marvelous game that nobody knows much about. Terrific art style, lovable characters, and a story to match are what make this game so great.
Lego Star Wars - March 29, 2005 - Traveler's Tales
Traveler's Tale re-tells the Star Wars story with such a quirky sense of humor, you do not mind seeing it again. This also holds true for the other Lego games: Batman and Indiana Jones.
Freelancer - March 4, 2003 - Digital Anvil
Street Fighter IV - July 2, 2009 - Dimps/Capcom
When was the last time a decent fighting game was released for the PC? July of 1998 with Mortal Kombat 4. Why this genre has been abandoned by game developers is a mystery to me. Some may say the PC, as a gaming entity, is not conducive to fighting games due to cramped quarters and other factors. Although I disagree with that, Capcom deserves major accolades for bringing AAA titles to the PC in any form. There are other devs who port games over to the PC, but they are usually terrible excuses for a game with controls that make you want to find the person responsible and set him/her on fire. Capcom on the other hand, gets it right. Although Resident Evil 5 and Devil May Cry 4 are fabulous games, I have a soft spot for SFIV. Playing this game reminds me of my childhood days when I would have friends over and play Street Fighter II on the SNES from sundown until sunup.
Mafia - August 28, 2002 - Illusion Softworks
Batman: Arkham Asylum - September 15, 2009 - Rocksteady Studios
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell - November 17, 2002 - Ubisoft Montreal
Thief II: The Metal Age - March 21, 2000 - Looking Glass Studios
Nancy Drew: The Haunting of Castle Malloy - October 2008 - Her Interactive
The first Nancy Drew game was released in December of 1998 and since then, Her Interactive has pushed out 19 titles with another due later this year. The Nancy Drew series is an extremely popular collection of games based on the literary character. These games offer tremendous value for their intense storylines and puzzle solving.
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MISSED THE RELEASE DATE CUT
Unreal Tournament - November 30, 1999
System Shock 2 - August 11, 1999
Quake III - December 2, 1999
Homeworld - September 28, 1999
Age of Empires II - September 30, 1999
Max Payne 2
Devil May Cry 4
GTA: Vice City
Resident Evil 5
The Sims 2
Call of Duty 4
Diner Dash 2
Tales of Monkey Island
Winning Eleven 7
It was a tremendous 10 years for PC gaming. Although there will never be a game that is 100% perfect, we had some that were awful close. Having said that, I am concerned where PC gaming is headed as we begin the new decade. More and more game companies are looking to release only on consoles or give the PC stripped down versions with little or no value. PC gamers want the ability to tweak and tinker with configuration settings to their hearts content. That is who most PC gamers are by nature. We like having the ability to look under the hood, to modify and change things. We do not want to see games that have no custom key mapping, graphical/audio settings or mouse sensitivity configuration. When I play an indie game like Osmos or Aquaria which has proper widescreen support, I shake my head thinking of other AAA titles such as Bioshock and Far Cry 2 that did not. PC gamers do not want to be locked into an FOV that is 65 and have the game pretend to support widescreen resolutions. Games like Dead Space and Ghostbusters have downright awful mouse controls while other similar games are perfect. Why? The only time I use a gamepad on my PC is when I am playing racing or sports titles. I do not want to hear about using the 360 controller. If I did that, I might as well go buy a console. Wrong or right, in eyes of most PC gamers, bad ports are looked on as blatant laziness. I am ranting a bit here, but this is a topic I am very passionate about. If a game company is not going to take the time to create a proper PC port, then do not release one at all. On the other side of the issue is the gamers themselves. Stop buying crappy games. Do not pirate them. Do nothing. Do not support companies that think of the PC as an afterthought. I know there are many reasons why PC gaming has its problems, but that, as they say, is a whole different show.
Now if you will excuse me, I have to get back to Deus Ex.
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