The 50 Best PC Games of All Time: Part Two
Continuing my countdown of my favourite PC games ever, from 40 to 31. Don't forget to read part one
, and read my caveats which influenced some of my decisions.
40. Dwarf Fortress
Technically the only ‘Early Access’ game to be featured on this list, Dwarf Fortress has been in development for over a decade and, according to the developers, will likely be in development for another twenty. The result of all this labour is an unbelievably deep, notoriously inaccessible management sim that, if you can get into it, produces some of the
best emergent stories around.
Dwarf Fortress procedurally generates everything, from the terrain the game takes place in, to the entire history of that world (which it does by playing a strategy game with itself). The latest versions are even capable of procedurally generating poetry. It takes some getting used to, but if you can decipher the language of its ASCII-based visuals, the rewards are boundless.
39. Her Story
Sam Barlow’s interactive whodunit is a masterful modernisation of the much-maligned FMV genre. It’s an adventure game in which you search a police-database for short video clips of a woman being interviewed about her husband’s disappearance. You watch the tape, listen to what she says for clues, then use those clues to unearth more videos in the database.
It’s essentially Internet Detective: The Videogame. But the excellently written story, brought to life by a sterling performance from actress Viva Seifert, does a better job of making you feel like a detective than all forty hours of LA Noire. It’s got more twists and turns than an arthritic snake, and it’s the kind of game you can devour in a single evening.
38. Max Payne 2
Few games have thought about bullets as intently as the Max Payne series has. Remedy’s landmark action games render those tiny metal death-balls in full 3D, dedicate lengthy monologues to them, and even measure time in them. The second game also thought much harder about what happens to something when it is struck by a bullet, being one of the earliest games to make full use of Havok physics.
Still remarkably intense and stylish, and moving away from the rather dated Matrix references in favour of a more noir-inspired story, Max Payne 2 remains one of the best pure action games around.
37. Planetside 2
The shootiest shooter that ever shot, Planetside 2 features multiplayer FPS battles on a scale which no other game comes even close to. The titanic conflicts of Auraxis are something that anyone interested in games should experience at least once, whether it’s joining a combined arms push across a lush woodland valley, driving a truck full of troops across the desert in a convoy, or taking to the skies and raining hell from above, the variety that Planetside 2 offers is almost as impressive as its scale.
You don’t even have to take part in the fighting to enjoy it, simply watching hundreds of players trade laser-fire from a distant hilltop, with player-controlled artillery barrages arcing above the battlefield, is a sight no player is likely to forget. But the fighting won’t last forever, so it’s worth getting involved now while there’s still action to be had.
36. Dungeon Keeper
You can tell Dungeon Keeper is special by how often developers try to remake it. A potent hybrid of management-sim and RTS that revels in casting you as the Bad Guy. Dungeon Keeper is remembered for that wickedly smart inversion of the usual player role.
But what makes it an important game is its realisation that a strategy game can be that much more interesting when your units have minds and personalities of their own. Certain units will start fighting if they’re forced into each other’s company, while your Dungeon will explode in a full on riot if you don’t save enough money for payday. Molyneux attempted a fuller exploration of emergent AI in Black & White, but Dungeon Keeper was both more refined and ultimately more enjoyable to play.