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The 20 essential PC and Mac games of 2012

Indie titles and mods ruled PC gaming this year - CVG hand picks the best examples

As we compiled this master-list it became apparent that most of these games are put together by relatively small teams. The best PC and Mac games tend not to be the work of vast corporations with millions of dollars in reserve, but the product of passionate developers, often working for free, without publisher support.

That's what's great about an open platform like PC; anyone can make a popular game. In fact, some of them aren't even games at all, but ambitious mods for other titles. The big publishers, for obvious reasons, won't take risks on games that don't have obvious mainstream appeal, but they can still shine on the home desktop.

CVG has compiled a list of the twenty brightest stars on PC and Mac, listed below in no particular order. Be aware that there's two key PC games that have not yet been released; Hawken and Hotline Miami, which are both deserving of your attention in the coming months.


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1. BLACK MESA

Developer Black Mesa Modification Team Website blackmesasource.com

A superb fan remake of the original Half-Life. Sticks close to the original, but adds smarter enemies, bigger levels and physics puzzles. While most publishers would have crushed the project with a giant stack of legal papers, Valve's only request was that 'Source' be removed from the title. Half-Life may be 14 years old, but Freeman's journey through the collapsing Black Mesa Research Facility is still wonderful. Well, except for the platforming.

Out now


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2. DAYZ

Developer Dean 'Rocket' Hall Website dayzmod.com

This mod for military FPS Arma 2 is one of the most brutal, unique multiplayer experiences ever. Dropped in a zombie-filled Eastern European landscape, you have one goal: survive. As well as worrying about hunger, thirst, broken limbs, and the infected, you also have to consider other players. DayZ brings out the very best, and worst, of humanity, and memorable stories are created not by set-pieces and scripted events, but by the interaction between players.

Out now


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3. GUILD WARS 2

Developer ArenaNet Website guildwars.com

There are two things people hate about MMOs: the monthly fee and the grinding. Guild Wars 2 gets rid of both. Quests are dynamic; a loose sprinkling of objectives in a large area that you can complete in any order at your leisure. Other players help towards your goal too, making it a social experience even if you're playing on your own. It's a bold, refreshing, modern MMO that streamlines a lot of - but not all - the drudgery that has come to define the genre.

Out now


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4. TORCHLIGHT II

Developer Runic Games Website torchlight2game.com

This packed sequel adds new classes and skills, gives you a bigger world to plunder, has pets that can ferry items between shops for you, and adds six-player co-op. It's a significant upgrade, and one of the most compelling, addictive action RPGs on PC, with chunky, colourful visuals. Some of the development team worked on the original Diablo games, and many see Torchlight as a truer successor to Blizzard's legendary dungeon crawler than Diablo 3.

Out now


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5. FTL: FASTER THAN LIGHT

Developer Subset Games Website ftlgame.com

This superb sci-fi roguelike sees you commanding a starship that's being chased through space by enemy ships. When attacked, you have to manage your ship's crew, weapons and systems; balancing power consumption, repelling enemies, and fighting fires. Do you starve a room of oxygen to put out a fire on a critical system, sacrificing a crew member in the process? FTL is an incredibly clever, unique game, and it's only £7 on Steam.

Out now


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6. WARGAME: EUROPEAN ESCALATION

Developer Eugen Systems Website wargame-ee.com

With its enormous maps and over 300 units to control (yes, really), Wargame is initially daunting. But once you get to grips with it, it's one of the year's most rewarding strategy games. Developed by the team behind RUSE, it's set in a world where the Cold War never cooled down. The size of the battles is breathtaking, whether you're viewing the war from above or at ground level. Get over that steep learning curve and you're in for a tactical treat.

Out now

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