Rare is the day indie games can enjoy this kind of success, crossing over into the physical realm to take corporeal form on store shelves and in your hands. Earlier this week, Super Meat Boy received a retail release. This "Ultra Edition" isn't a simple repackaging of the game you know and love into a cardboard box--it's packed with bonuses. Check out what you get (besides the deliciously-brutal game itself) inside.
Best PC Games
At GDC last week Dustin Browder, Starcraft II's lead designer, talked about how Blizzard's development was intensely focused on making the game an e-sport. One of the most interesting points he made is that an e-sport can't just work for its players: it also has to be interesting for spectators.
“We did anything we could to make this a more watchable viewing experience,” says Browder. Anyone obsessed by the intricacies of Starcraft II, and PC Gamer is guilty as charged, would say mission accomplished. But what if you're curious rather than obsessed? Don't know a drone from a battlecruiser? Where to start?
Over the following pages we'll take you through ten awesome games of Starcraft II, old and new, where you'll never see the same strategy twice. They showcase some of the world's top players, commentators, every race combination, and the majority of each race's units. Some of our favourite matches are on GOM.tv, but they require a paid-subscription to watch. Our picks are free for everyone.
We've taken the liberty of preparing a basic glossary, but we'll leave the rest in the capable hands of the casters. No excuses: stick the kettle on, sit back, and let's get ready to rumble.
With its breathtaking terrain and heart-stopping battles, this air combat sim is flying high. We waggle our wingtips at Wings Of Prey.
A much-loved PC combat flight sim is ported to consoles and gets utterly trashed in the process. PC favourite IL2 was converted to console-focused Wings of Prey. The script was written the second the game was announced, but rather splendidly, Gaijin (the port-ers) failed to read it. Rather than hammering flat all of IL-2’s subtleties, the Russian team preserved them, producing a game that’s stronger than its prototype in several areas. Even better, they flew their new title back to PC simmers.
Five weeks of plotting, bluffing and double-crossing with Neptune's Pride, the most duplicitous strategy game of the year.
The icon next to his name turned grey, signalling that he’d just signed out of MSN Messenger. That meant he was away from his computer. It was time. I opened up the other window, selected my fleets and sent them all towards his worlds. By the time he came home that night to see what I’d done, it would be too late. And by the next morning, I’d have won the entire match. All hail the space slug! Doom to the space squid! That’ll teach them to make an alliance with me.
Neptune’s Pride isn’t real-time strategy, it’s long-time strategy. Each day, you login, upgrade some of your planets, direct your fleets around the galaxy, and then… you wait. A long time. Moving that one fleet between those two planets? That’s going to take four hours. Between the next two planets? Another ten. To reach the enemy planet you’ve ultimately sent it to attack? About 22 hours total.
DICE brought out the big guns this year with Battlefield: Bad Company 2
They don’t teach you proper military tactics in the army. It’s all about climbing six-foot walls and cleaning guns, and useless junk like that.
Bad Company 2 shows you the way real soldiers fight: leaping full-pelt towards windows, tucking themselves into a tiny ball, then unfurling like an umbrella made of guns on the other side. War is all about standing far away from buildings and firing endless streams of grenades that appear in mystical green packets that grow just above your arse. It’s about performing little feats of individual skill so brilliant that you stop and stare at your own fingers, believing for a second that they’ve got tiny brains of their own.
In comparison with the 64-player murderfests of Battlefield 2, Bad Company 2’s slimmed-down servers and four-man squad seem reductive. But in limiting the mental scale of the conflict and making it so easy to signpost your intentions to your squad-mates, BC2 gains a constant and tangible sense of teamwork. Unless you’re lumped with ten sniping morons, anyway.
Their dedication to the Team Fortress 2 community makes Valve's online shooter a blast.
Online shooters don’t evolve. They land on your hard drive, and if there’s a bug, or a new map, or a new gun, the developers or publishers might stick out an update. But they are as is, and they’ll eventually tire me out.
This was how I expected it to be when Team Fortress 2 launched in October 2007. And back then, at first glance, it was just a brilliant shooter. A few maps, nine classes, lots of fun, and I’d be done with it in six months. Even as I was enjoying playing the Spy, the invisible weakling capable of terrorising teams only when their backs were turned, I was wondering what game was next.
Why RTS sequel Supreme Commander 2 has gone from 'good' to my 'Game Of The Year.'
If you loved Supreme Commander, you probably didn’t like Supreme Commander 2. And if you didn’t like Supreme Commander, you probably didn’t play Supreme Commander 2. It was an awkwardly pitched sequel: a game that solved the accessibility issues of the first game, bought primarily by people who didn’t want them solved.
Since its release, though, sustained precision fire from the Tech 3 Patch Cannon has knocked SupCom 2 into impressive shape: a large-scale RTS with smart economy management, but easy to play and understand at the basic level. It still dominates PC Gamer’s lunchtimes, every game leads to apocalyptic clashes of plasma-spitting tungsten monstrosities, and it’s become my favourite title of 2010.
Not that I’m suggesting anyone play the campaign: don’t. Play a one-off game against the Easy AI to get started. Then get some friends in and play the way we do in the office: cooperatively. Our last big game was six PC Gamer writers versus two top-level AIs with massive resource bonuses, and it got a little out of hand.
Our Gamer of the Year is Starcraft II legend and pillar of the community, Sean 'Day ' Plott
If you sliced Sean Plott’s arm open, you wouldn’t find any blood – you’d be hit in the face with arterial sprays of StarCraft. Day, as the internet knows him, lives and breathes the strategy series, making a living at one point as a professional StarCraft: Brood War player. He now dedicates most of his time to helping fellow players up their StarCraft II game through daily video tutorials and commentating sessions.
Starcraft II is compulsively entertaining when you've got your hands on the controls, but it's also a gripping spectator sport.
StarCraft II has a beautifully paced singleplayer campaign that sets the benchmark for inventive solo strategy, and that’s all fine. Twenty hours of missions where your small men kill other small things in a familiar two-and-a-half dimensions, StarCraft II is a game that we’ve all played before in some form. Maybe it was dressed in a fluffy hat and dancing to cod-Russian music; maybe it was wandering around Warcraft before there was a World to explore. StarCraft II – we thought – could only be an evolutionary game.
But StarCraft II is revolutionary. It will change the world. It's already started to.
It’s big. Oh god, it’s big.
World of Warcraft is the world’s most successful subscription MMO. Orcs and humans, fighting dragons. It’s four games welded into one vast whole: a multiplayer cooperative RPG in which you quest. A competitive fantasy team battleground game. A three-versus-three arena competitive ladder. And a 10- or 25-man dragon bashing cooperative raiding thing.
Together, those elements make for a deep and terrifyingly compulsive mix. The trouble was that to get anywhere in the latter three games, you had to go through the former.
80 levels of questing in WoW translates to around a month of fairly solid play. And pre-Cataclysm, that was a month of trawling through some of PC gaming’s most mindnumbingly boring tasks. Ferrying packages across continents. Crawling through shit to find excreted seeds. Massacring leopards en route to killing more leopards.