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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

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7. LEGEND OF GRIMROCK

Developer Almost Human Ltd. Website grimrock.net

This ode to classic '90s RPGs is defiant in its old school stylings. It sees you inching through dark dungeons, square by square, battling monsters and solving puzzles. The story is simplistic, but cryptic riddles, skill trees, and maze-like level design keep your brain working. It's great that digital distribution allows niche games like this to find an audience. If you think RPGs have gotten too soft lately, try delving into Grimrock's unforgiving depths.

Out now


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8. ORCS MUST DIE! 2

Developer Robot Entertainment Website robotentertainment.com

This third-person tower defence game sees you setting up traps and using magical weapons to repel waves of angry orcs. You can plant arrow launchers and floor spikes around the level to slow them down, and the sequel introduces the ability to freeze the marauding monsters. It isn't vastly different from the original Orcs Must Die!, but if you've yet to experience the series' frantic, tactical gameplay, this is the best place to start.

Out now


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9. TRIBES: ASCEND

Developer Hi-Rez Studios Website hirezstudios.com

You can download and play Tribes: Ascend for free. It's a fast-paced multiplayer FPS, but with the added verticality of jetpacks. You can fly into the air for short periods of time, or 'ski' on sloped surfaces to increase your speed. It'll be a few rounds before you actually hit anyone with strange weapons, but when you get into the rhythm of the frenzied combat, it becomes one of the most exciting competitive shooters on PC. Not bad for costing nothing.

Out now


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10. DIABLO 3

Developer Blizzard Website battle.net

After a 12 year absence, Diablo finally returns to PC. The dungeon crawling is as addictive as ever, and the fountains of loot that erupt from fallen enemies keeps you clicking away deep into the night. The real money auction house is a terrible idea, and the fact that the DRM disrupts solo play is frankly shocking, but we still had a blast with Diablo 3, especially in four-player co-op. It's just not quite as deep and replayable as the untouchable Diablo 2.

Out now


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11. THE SECRET WORLD

Developer Funcom Website thesecretworld.com

This MMO eschews the usual fantasy setting for a world of machine-gun toting secret agents set in the present day. Or at least a twisted version of it. Think The X-Files meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In this world, all the ghost stories and conspiracy theories we consider far-fetched are actually real. Maps are smaller than most MMOs, but much more detailed and stuffed with lore. That £11.49 monthly fee seriously needs to drop, though.

Out now


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12. THEY BLEED PIXELS

Developer Spooky Squid Games Inc. Website theybleedpixels.com

Side-scrolling indie platformers are rarely this deliciously violent. They Bleed Pixels fuses challenging platforming with beat-'em-up inspired combat, and it's been compared to Super Meat Boy for its grueling difficulty. But it's hard in an entertaining way (mostly), and you'll find immense satisfaction in sticking at, an eventually beating, some of its more monstrous levels. You can always count on indie games to turn you into a sweary, pad-hurling mess.

Out now


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13. WORLD OF WARCRAFT: MISTS OF PANDARIA

Developer Blizzard Website battle.net

Okay, so it's not strictly a game, but this expansion to Blizzard's world-conquering MMO adds a massive amount of new content, mostly skewed towards veteran players. You can roll the new race, the pandaren, from the outset and battle through a new starting area, but only level 85 characters get to explore the vast Asian-flavoured continent of Pandaria. This, combined with new raids, dungeons, and the Pokémon-inspired pet battles will eat up many hours.

Out now

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