Craig says "I've usurped the list and returned Thief II to its rightful position. The third suffers from a hideous engine and small levels. Thief II's massive, terrifying edifices are stunning playgrounds to explore. The most thiefy of all the games."
13 Eve Online
The closest we've come - we'll ever come? - to Elite online, EVE is the MMO with a difference: you're a spaceship pilot. It has evolved massively, with its ultra-hardcore communities plotting wars, alliances, trade and the construction of vast capital ships and space stations. It's less a game, and more an alternate life.
Jim says "I've written more on this game than I care to recall, but I've still failed to capture quite what it means. Singular, almost unplayable, it's the misunderstood bohemian genius of the MMO world."
A dripping, unthinkable horror unfolding to a crackly soundtrack of crooning late-'50s easy-listening. Few characters rival Sander Cohen's sickly dementia, and few games can offer so sublime a moment as being assailed by twirling ballerinas while Tchaikovsky blares, a blood-spattered wrench your only defence.
Tom says "I really thought Sander Cohen would be my favourite character... until I finally met Andrew Ryan. That short, non-interactive encounter left me horrified and astonished at what I'd done, and at the audacity of the game for making me do it. It mocks both the player and games in general - itself included."
11 Civilization IV
Turn-based strategy has all but died out in the past decade - it takes a game of superior depth, balance and brains to lure us away from the enormous explosions and fast action on offer elsewhere. The latest version of Sid Meier's life's work is beautifully polished, a classic updating of a visionary game.
Tim says "It's the competition between nations, and the pace of progress that always surprises me about Civ. You can pass through epochs in hours, believing you've got the upper hand with musketmen and artillery, only to discover your neighbours are sporting tanks and a menacing grin."
10 UFO: Enemy Unknown
More turn-based strategy from the dawn of PC Gamer: the X‑COM series brought us incredibly tense moments as your team of sci-fi soldiers had to defend the Earth from unknown aliens (hence the title). Coupled with base-building and research, this was truly groundbreaking game.
Alec says: "Strategy, roleplaying, management, puzzle, horror, even a spot of adventure... X-COM still makes me feel like I'm employing every skill PC gaming ever taught me when I play it, but at the same time it makes me desperately unhappy that no one since has been willing or able to capture its casual complexity. And in just 256 colours and 320x240 pixels, it remains beautiful and distinctive."
9 Planescape Torment
The late '90s saw a rash of RPG releases which were hailed as 'the recovery of the genre'. Most remarkable of these was Planescape Torment. There was nothing familiar about its bizarre, dark fantasy world, nothing clichéd about its plot or characters (well, except the whole amnesia thing), and nothing like it in terms of dialogue and descriptive writing before or since. It's still a fantastic narrative experience.
John says "If there's one game with a story that beats The Longest Journey, it's Planescape Torment. The quality of writing in every description and every conversation is mind-boggling. A true masterpiece."
8 Hitman Blood Money
Hitman is a deceptive game. At first, it seems to be a simple matter of puzzling: you work out a suitable plan to execute the target, follow the plan, and proceed to the next level. It's not until you truly explore all the environments, and all the things the game makes possible, that you realise what a deep world this is, and how imaginative the game encourages you to be.