61 Warcraft III
They pretty much made the perfect RTS here. Beneath the trolls, orcs and cartoon art, this is a ruthlessly balanced game with brilliantly executed mechanics. As such it remains an excellent leveller for those multiplayer face-offs.
Tim says "Blizzard get one thing right, and ensure that every game they make from then on is at least as good. For Warcraft III it was the missions: epic stories of a prince driven to madness, massacring his own subjects in an attempt to save a kingdom."
60 Day of Defeat: Source
It'll never escape its status as poor cousin to Counter-Strike, but this is a wholly different beast. In the WWII mod, damage is harsher, the maps more awkward and the matches less forgiving. Venture online, and prepare for harsh lessons.
Craig says "I know every area in dod_avalanche, and honed the skills to be top 3 in pretty much any pub server going. I was playing as a Spy before TF2 even existed, sneaking behind enemy lines and killing."
It's intercontinental nuclear warfare, and the winner is whoever loses the fewest millions of lives. Visually and conceptually simple, yet original and brilliant. As time ticks by, and you wonder where the nukes are going to hit, the tension becomes terrifying.
Tom says "Two points for every million innocents killed, minus one for every million you lose... A successful attack widens the score gap between you and your victim so vastly that you can sometimes frighten them into giving up: a perfect mirror of real nuclear war."
Age will never wither Masq's beauty. A Flash-based branching adventure game,
the scope of things that can happen within the game's short span
is quite breathtaking.
Tom says "A short story, but a broad one - as games should be. You have more options and influence on the fundamentals of the plot than in any other game I could name, and that makes it compelling to replay."
A throwback to a time when it seemed a PC game could be made on a creative whim. Action, sneaking, dialogue, quests, weird aliens and that unforgettable orange shirt. It reminds us of more innocent, if unrealistic, days.
Ross says "Back then it seemed the weird games would never end. Today it would never get the sort of funding you need to make a big-budget game and might be made by a mad modder or indie dev instead. Perhaps in 2D. Sad."
56 Ultima VII
By '94, Richard Garriott had perfected his RPG vision: UVII radiated his trademark obsession with morality and inspired a generation of developers to use the phrase "good and evil isn't a case of black and white". It's still inspirational today.
Tony says "Ultima VII came from the future. It was impossibly big and colourful, and ludicrously effortless to play. You just reached into this other world and interacted, without ever feeling you were doing something so mundane as playing a computer game."
55 Diablo II
With the gift of hindsight, it's clear that Blizzard learned plenty from how willingly gamers lapped up the repetitive challenge-and-reward of this slickest of action-RPGs. After a while, playing Diablo II seems as natural as breathing.
Tom says "What Blizzard have never recaptured is the tactile satisfaction of putting sword to beast, club to zombie, or arrow to face. Blows connected in a way no MMORPG ever managed, and that made every click a pleasure."
54 Beyond Good & Evil
A highly unusual, low-violence adventure. You control Jade, a rare excellent female lead, and must overcome puzzles, dangers and challenges without the use of enormous guns. Excellently, your main weapon is a camera.
Jim says "One of the more interesting attempts at world creation: there was a political agenda here, as well as the intention to create a platform adventure without jumping."