Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Best and Cool PC Games

From cherished classics to recent releases, we take a look at some of the best games for the oldest and most versatile platform of them all: the humble PC.

The PC remains the most versatile platform around. Not only does it play the best of today’s games (and at better resolutions than the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360), it also carries the largest—and most critically acclaimed—back catalog of all video-game platforms.

So, how does one narrow down the best games for the platform? It’s a subjective process, and we’re sure that the list will create debate (not to mention some angry "You forgot my favorite PC game" comments). We encourage debate on the list, and we hope that the list helps you find some great games—either recent releases or beloved classics. We'll also continue to add to the list, taking community feedback into consideration, so please, share your favorites with us.

And, remember: Even after you beat these games, don’t forget to extend their life by checking out their online communities. Many have mods, player-made scenarios, levels, maps, and so on that provide hours of additional enjoyment.

Editor's note: GamePro Media owns GameDownloads.com, a digital-download service that's a competitor of Steam, Impulse, and Good Old Games.


Unreal Tournament 2004
Epic’s Unreal Tournament series of futuristic first-person shooters was already a mainstay among PC gamers when what’s arguably the best game in its series hit: UT2004. It introduced vehicles and the popular Onslaught game type, which allowed for large-scale multiplayer battles. The game also carries an extensive list of mods; one of the, Red Orchestra, a total-conversion mod that turns the game into a battle on the Eastern Front of World War II, became a retail item on Steam. Another, Alien Swarm, is also available from Steam. UT2004 may be found on Steam and Good Old Games.com.



The Sims
This life-sim series is likely the most popular PC game of them all. Spawning three main games, 18 expansions, numerous “stuff” packs, and spinoffs on console and handheld platforms, the Sims lets players “sim” the life of a virtual person (or people) living in a suburban community. You can play the game straight, seeing how the lives of your Sims turn out, or you can make the life of your poor Sim a living virtual hell. It’s all up to you. The PC has a genre of strategy games called “god games,” but in the Sims, you are god.


Sid Meier’s Pirates
The oldest game on this list, 1987’s Pirates broke significant ground in PC development. Not only is it the first of many games to bear ├╝berdeveloper Sid Meier’s name, it also introduced dynamic changes to a game environment: diplomatic shifts among the four countries vying for control of the Caribbean (the English, French, Spanish, and Dutch) help make each game of Pirates! different. The players’ actions also left a lasting impression on the game world. The ship combat, in real time, remains fun. Firaxis issued a remake of the game in 2004 that remains available at some retailers and many digital-download services.


System Shock 2
This first-person shooter from Irrational Games is one of the most influential games of all time, merging RPG elements with shooter gameplay and telling an interesting, sometimes frightening story. With character classes and skills, System Shock 2 allows for multiple replays by allowing players to build different skills each time, bringing much needed variety to the shooter genre. The game also built the foundation for BioShock, Irrational’s 2007 hit. The game also has a number of interesting and excellent community-made mods available online.

World of Warcraft
The biggest massively multiplayer online role-playing game on the market (not to mention the most popular game for PCs), World of Warcraft is now going into its third expansion, Cataclysm, which recasts the world of Azeroth after the dragon Deathwing rips through its extradimensional prison and devastates the world, affecting nearly every corner of Azeroth. The expansion introduces two new races as well—the wolfmen Worgen and Goblins—and it remains an MMO that offers addictive play for small groups, large groups, or the solo player. It’s also the MMO that countless others have unsuccessfully tried to replicate.

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