The 50 Best PC Games of All Time: Part Four

Written by Rick Lane

July 22, 2016 | 16:52

Tags: #amnesia-the-dark-descent #crusader-kings-ii #day-of-the-tentacle #dishonored #doom #grow-home #left4dead-2 #skyrim #unreal-tournament

Companies: #bit-gamer

The 50 Best PC Games of All Time: Part Four

15. Total War: Shogun II

The high point of the long and illustrious strategy series sees Total War go back to its roots, stripping away many of the complexities that burdened it in Empire, while retaining its most important evolutions.

Shogun II also re-emphasised the 'war' aspect of Total War, bringing some of the most spectacular and visceral battles to the series. The refinements went deeper than the surface details too, Shogun II sports arguably the best AI of any Total War game, influenced as with the original by Sun Tzu’s Art of War.

All the Total War games are worth investigating for one reason or another, but Shogun II is undoubtedly the place to start, a perfect balance of strategic complexity, without overwhelming the player with subsidiary systems.

The 50 Best PC Games of All Time: Part Four

14. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

I deliberated long and hard about which Elder Scrolls game to include in this list. Morrowind undoubtedly has the most interesting world, and I will always have a soft spot for it. But I think Skyrim is the better game overall.

Not that its own environments are anything to sniff at either. Skyrim’s Scandinavian-inspired landscape is dominated by vast, craggy mountains, rugged, undulating moorland, and prehistoric swamps that bubble with hot geysers.

It’s a place that yearns to be explored, and Bethesda do a darned fine job in making it worth exploring. Admittedly the main quest can be a bit of a chore, but even exploring the most basic dungeon is made fun by the much improved combat systems and spectacular range of magic abilities. Even burly warriors without an ounce of sorcery in their bodies get in on the magical action through the enormously powerful DragonShouts, devastating incantations that can blow a troll off a mountaintop or bring a dragon crashing down from the sky.
These systems, coupled with Bethesda’s usual chocolate box of quests, factions and characters, make Skyrim the most potent version of the developer’s hugely successful formula.

The 50 Best PC Games of All Time: Part Four

13. Left 4 Dead 2

Remember when everyone thought Left 4 Dead 2 was going to be a cheap cash-in on Valve’s part? That it would sully the legacy of their ferociously good cooperative multiplayer game? That melee weapons would ruin the experience? That there was no way they could top the original?

How wrong we were.

Left 4 Dead 2 may have come out worryingly quickly after the first game, but it was nevertheless a tremendous evolution upon the formula, bringing a roster of new enemies such as the Charger and the Jockey, while also sporting a distinctive Deep South theme.

Over time, Left 4 Dead 2 has expanded its range of maps and even incorporated all the elements of the original, enabling you to play the first four campaigns with all the new systems, weapons and enemies of the second game.

With its thrilling, bloody combat, and AI director that shakes up the game every time, the combined force of Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 result in the best cooperative game in existence.

The 50 Best PC Games of All Time: Part Four

12. Dishonored

Dishonored was designed to evoke the feeling of the classic immersive sims designed by Looking Glass and Ion Storm, while also adopting the premise of Hitman: Blood Money with a city and art style directly inspired by Half Life 2. Directly aligning itself with so many great games as it does, Dishonored could easily have come off as inferior. Yet instead it takes all of those elements and not only produces something that feels coherent, but original too.

Much of this is down to Arkane’s work making Dunwall feel like a convincing place, from its incredible synthesis of 18th century culture with futuristic technology, to its elegantly written script. Every character from the major players of the Hound’s Pit Pub to random guards patrolling the streets feel fleshed out and believable.

Dishonored also introduced us to one of the best movement systems ever devised in a videogame. Although Blink is arguably the simplest of the roster of tools with which Corvo can creatively dispatch his targets, it also transforms how you view the architecture around you, enabling you to navigate Dunwall’s streets and form assassination strategies which would simply be impossible without it. The vanilla game could have done with an extra mission or two, but Dishonored remains perhaps the best original game series released since 2010.

The 50 Best PC Games of All Time: Part Four

11. Doom

The legacy of Doom is undeniable. It is one of the most historically significant games ever made. But surely after a quarter of a century, id’s masterpiece has been outclassed? Nope.

Despite its age, Doom is still an incredibly fun game to play. It’s not simply about the tactile quality of the gun-on-demon action, although here Doom still excels. It’s about subtler things. Yes, you read that right.

For a game which is so often lauded/demonised for its graphic, bloody violence, Doom is a game whose greatness stems from surprisingly intangible things; pacing, mood, secrets, level layout, enemy placement, and its general ability to surprise and scare the player. Doom’s timelessness stems from the smaller, lighter touches of Carmack and Romero, not just its ability to provide raw visceral satisfaction.

Doom may have spawned a thousand imitators which have iterated and improved upon its ideas, but there’s still very good reason to return to where the FPS genre made its name.

Be sure to come back next Friday for The Final Countdown!
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