Tim: "For giggles, build a simple ride that's just a giant ascending slope, and then select the 'powered launch' option. Fill it up with guests. And then click 'go'. Congratulations, you maniac! You've just created your first of many coaster cannons."
Tomb Raider: Anniversary
Somewhere among the countless sequels, the lifestyle mag covers and the Lara hype, the creators of Tomb Raider forgot the point of their game: raiding tombs. That magic is back, thanks to vast underground lairs and hidden cities for you to lose yourself in.
John: "I kind of miss the light-hearted banter of last year's Legend, but then I stop caring every time I walk into a new tomb or cavern and gleefully think: "PLAYGROUND!" This is the only game where I've cared about finding secrets - it means I did some excellent acrobatics."
C&C: Red Alert 2
Why we still love this hilarious strategy game, in two words: psychic squid. Westwood's RTS masterpiece plays out a mind-crazy alternative history, where the Russians use mind control, and thanks to Einstein the US can teleport with their chrono technology. Still daft, still brilliant, and a shining example of how to spin a familiar series in a completely different direction.
Graham: "Psychically controlled squid! Zeppelins over New York! Yuri! 'We Romanovs have our legacy to consider.' 'I don't give a wooden nickel about your legacy!' No real-time strategy has ever come close to matching RA2 for its sense of humour, its endless invention, or the unbridled joy of its missions."
Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood
World War II is all about not getting shot. Most games forget this, revelling in violence and bombast. Brothers in Arms is different - it's about taking potshots at frightened German recruits over damp fields. The perfect antidote to the overwhelming Call of Duty.
Tim: "I love that the Brothers in Arms games constantly play-down the heroism, forcing us to analyse every situation rather than blindly charge into battle."
Command & Conquer 3
Finally, the Scrin, responsible for the Tiberium infection in the original C&C game, have invaded. C&C's version of real-time strategy has always demanded quick thinking, but C&C3 is played at light speed. Entire armies can evaporate barrage. Importantly, Cameron from 'House' features in its cutscenes. Yums.
Graham: "After just ten minutes, Tim's hands are in the air and my units are on the floor. I thought destroying the city's bridges would stop his land units from reaching my base. It didn't. It turns out he could teleport across the river instead, and I'd just sealed off my only escape route. Damn."
Outcast offered a template for 3D PC gaming way too early. It was part Zelda, part Gears of War, part Thief - wide open alien islands for you to sneak through, blast past, or quest around. It represents the steam-powered alternative history videogames could have seen.
Jim: "Science tells us that Outcast is the fifty-seventh best game of all time. It's the mathematical combination of messianic story, Voxel fluidity, orange jumpers, and alien ostriches that make it so nutritious."
Supreme Commander knows what we want out of real-time strategic future war. Realising that bigger is better, it gives us insanely huge, insanely powerful robotic units that ensure it's a crazed, intense, brain-wracking experience, ending with an unlimited stockpile of nuclear weapons. Spread it across two monitors to capture the full effect of its ULTRO-WAR.