Well, 2006 is but a memory. Or very nearly. But as we bid farewell to another year which has seen another inch added to our waste lines (for some at least) and another hair drop from our heads (for some at least), we're looking back over the last 12 months and thinking about our best, most favourite PC games that have released this year.
Although it's perhaps been a year in videogames that's seen the new console wave hog a decent portion of the headlines, the PC gaming scene has kept on going like a solid and reliable workhorse to deliver several titles that have thrilled, impressed and entertained us from our whirring hard drives. Below, presented in no particular order, is our top-ten pick of PC games in 2006...
Company of Heroes
Relic Entertainment's decision to enter the WWII RTS scene might have been considered risky initially, but when Company of Heroes finally parachuted in the developer proved it could grapple with well-trodden ground and deliver a refreshing experience. In particular the destructible environments and superb unit AI really stood out, and in general CoH's dev team took all the best bits of the genre and moulded them into one fantastic whole. The game was looked on as an evolution in the real-time strategy genre as opposed a true revolution, but it was easily one of the best PC games of 2006. It could well prove a tough one to beat in the RTS genre next year, too.
Check out the Company of Heroes game page here.
Splinter Cell: Double Agent
Double Agent found Ubisoft attempting to blow away the cobwebs that special agent Sam Fisher was starting to collect, and with a mighty puff it pretty much managed to pull of its intention, really. We'll cut the plotline down severely and just say that the game found Fisher working on both good and bad sides of the fence - a design which was married with a decent if could-have-been-a-bit-deeper trust system - and sometimes trying to juggle sets of objectives was genius. On the stealth side, it delivered to a tee and the game looked great to boot - and the multiplayer proved to be great fun too.
Check out the Splinter Cell: Double Agent game page here.
Medieval II: Total War
Concerns that Medieval II would suffer from The Creative Assembly having already visited the era with its Total War series were quickly dashed when the final game plopped into our laps. Ramped up graphical detail, battlegrounds possessing far greater geographical diversity than ever before, a turn-based strategic map which trounced all of its predecessors and further additions added to the enormous strategy depth that the developer had already achieved with the series. The real-time battles might not have advanced much since Rome, but they were fab, visceral and brutal nevertheless. As we said in our review, there's simply no way that any self-respecting strategy fan can spend this Christmas doing anything other than rampaging across the world on a whirlwind of medieval conquest.
Check out the Medieval II: Total War game page here.
Introversion's Defcon wouldn't win any awards for graphical achievement, but anyone who's played the game will know it's all about the gameplay. Inspired by the movie Wargames from the early 1980s, the title presented players with a top-down, 2D view of the world and found countries engaging in steadily escalating global warfare. And you won by killing the most people. It was especially brilliant it multiplayer, with immense satisfaction to be had from nuking the crap out of your opponents' major cities and watching the death toll climb - and them pounding their baked potatoes in anger if you happened to be playing it at office lunch time.