PC Gamer's Best 100 PC Games

The full spectrum of PC gaming joy.

'Greatest' is a rather fuzzy word - we prefer 'best'. These are the 100 best games, today. We don't care how influential or ground-breaking something is - is it the best? Should you play it now, after everything that's come out since?

If the answer is no, it stays on the dusty archive shelf. That's not to say old games don't make the cut, of course: nothing has surpassed Elite at what it does, for example, and so a game made in 1984 is at- well, we'll let you see for yourself. Another rule for diversity's sake: if games in a series are similar, only the best one makes it. That's the one you should play, and the others aren't as essential once you have. Without further ado:

100 N
Release: 2004
Last year: 99
Platform games ought to have been the first to benefit from the physics revolution, but only N seems to have taken momentum, elasticity and ragdoll on board. As a tiny black ninja, you hurtle around smoothly contoured rooms arcing gracefully over electrified seeker-drones, weaving through sprays of bullets and outrunning homing missiles. It's fluid, kinetic and keyboard-smashingly difficult.

Release: 2001
Last year: 92
Beep. Beep. Beep. The awful sound of your illegal connection being traced in Uplink still haunts our nightmares. Despite being all interface, with no graphics to speak of, rerouting your modem through servers dotted across the globe is more cinematic than the pixel-shaded polygons modern games fling in our face. It's a matter of fidelity: if you were hacking into a bank or government database, this is what it would look like.

Release: 2001
Last year: 91
Management with imagination - a rare and delicious cocktail. Reclaiming a derelict space station, turning it into a exotic sci-fi resort as you go, had an feeling of excitement that real-world sims can't match. What you were creating was something outlandish and impossible: blue-winged sirens running your alien love-nests, drug-smoking hippy greys chilling on your terraformed biodeck, and bristly warmongers bashing imaginary foes in the Holographic Entertainment Suite.

Release: 2001
Last year: 70
My tank is angry. His friend the helicopter? Absolutely furious. Hostile Waters put you in command of an army of resurrected warriors embedded in computer chips, fighting to rid the world of the last warlords, dictators and criminals. It spliced intricate strategy to frantic action, where you co-ordinated assaults on bases, and inched past radar installations, before calling in your friends to blast a way through. My tank is angry, but I'm so proud.

Release: 1998
Last year: 95
Text adventures - or interactive fiction, as they've become known - don't age. Graphics are surpassed, but interactive text will always be able to communicate things no visual game can. "These days," sighs the first passage of this sombre and atmospheric Lovecraftian adventure, "you often find yourself feeling confused and uprooted." There's no full-screen post-processing filter for that.

Release: 1989
Last year: 98
This is an RPG of harsh realities. Even the top-down graphics are harsh: primitive 16-colour tiles take the place of the original Angband's text characters. But the really galling part is having your mighty hero starve to death because he can't escape the paralysing attack of the lowly Gazer behind the door he just opened. Or losing your vampire warlord when the god of Chaos grants him the 'gift' of eternal sunshine. Or finding that the doors surrounding you are actually monsters. You get no save, no load and no respawn, and we wouldn't want it any other way.

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