40 MAX PAYNE 2: THE FALL OF MAX PAYNE
Release year 2003 Last position 74
Samuel Remedy's most confident game, and a type of shooter that's unnecessarily out of fashion now.
Emanuel Max Payne was defined by a cool gimmick, but this revealed Remedy's real speciality: grounding over-the-top action with believable characters and environments.
Andy The twisted journey through the Address Unknown theme park is Max's greatest moment. A dark, pulpy comic book tale with brilliantly kinetic gunplay.
39 GUILD WARS 2
Release year Last position New entry
Phil For all of the social promise offered by MMOs, it's amazing how many fall apart when you try to play with friends. That Guild Wars 2 doesn't is why I've spent nearly 500 hours playing it—hanging out with pals while also maybe killing a dragon. The lack of a subscription means it doesn't feel like an obligation; the level downscaling makes it easy to group with anyone; and, even if playing alone, the multitude of events ensures there's always someone to maybe kill a dragon with.
Chris When Guild Wars 2 was released, I was convinced that it marked the end of the World of Warcraft formula—from quests to subscriptions. That wasn't quite right, as it turned out, but this is still the best game in its genre. Combat is fast, clear, and skill-based, and players have freedom to chart their own course through the world.
Release year 1997 Last position New entry
Ian I invite you to marvel at the care poured into Fallout's iconic setting. The retro-future art style, where 1950s vacuum-tube tech evolved into plasma rifles without ever inventing the microprocessor, is deep, charming, and inviting. Just getting the chance to explore that world made it a childhood favourite of mine. I'm more than a little relieved that it's still fun today.
37 CRUSADER KINGS 2
Release year 2012 Last position 51
Ian If you took chess and zoomed in—way in until you could play politics with every knight's wife and every Bishop's ward—you'd have something close to the depth in Crusader Kings 2's medieval Europe. When you add mods that bring the political machinations of Westeros, Tamriel and Middle-Earth, you've got a feudal kingdom simulator unlike anything else in gaming.
36 BATTLEFIELD 3
Release year 2011 Last position New entry
Ben I spent £3,000 on a PC in 2012 because I thought the world was ending. When it didn't I wasn't even disappointed, because I had BF3. Sixty-four players packed into Metro station, rendered at 4K resolution and moving at 120 fps, is a revelation. I'll never forget my teammates' cries of thanks as I racked up medic points by continually reviving them against their wishes. I think it was thanks.
Emanuel The perfect balance of simulation and goofiness. It makes war a big sandbox where anything can happen, like shooting a rocket at jet fighter while parachuting.
35 PLANESCAPE: TORMENT
Release year 1999 Last position 22
Cory The story of an immortal's redemption in spite of so much emotional wreckage was told so well I hardly remembered to stop and hit monsters. And I didn't have to.
Tony For me it was the setting as much as the story. Sigil is the dusty, exotic refuse heap at the centre of the multiverse, populated by the sweepings of every heaven, hell and neutral plane ever described in an AD&D monster manual.
Richard Could be shorter though. “What can change the nature of a man? Booze.” Done.
34 WORLD OF WARCRAFT
Release year 2005 Last position 15
Richard While it's creaking at the seams now, WoW is still the MMO closest to my heart. So many adventures, so much loot. And so much more fun in Hearthstone/ Heroes of the Storm.
Cory Thank God WoW changed what it means to make a modern MMO—I don't know if I could have keep making EverQuest-style corpse runs for this long.
33 MIRROR'S EDGE
Release year 2009 Last position New entry
Ben Hi, I'm Ben, and I love all the things that you hate. Did you hate the combat in Mirror's Edge? I loved it! Did you hate the stop/start parkour? Loved it! The story? OK, that was rubbish, but the rest of the game? Loved it!
Samuel Forget the story—Faith is a silent protagonist to me, as I skip the animated cutscenes and just focus on free-running and showing off with wall kick combos. DICE was always a Battlefield factory to me, but Mirror's Edge taught me that this studio is full of innovative artists.
Release year 2012 Last position 40
Chris I played Dishonored until I understood all of its levels backwards, and it kept impressing me the whole way. Its implementation of first-person stealth is the best since Thief II, and dozens of complementary systems provide huge room for player expression. It's also an ace action game, and that's not a trick many pull off.
Andy The closest a modern game has come to Deus Ex. I played the entire thing without killing or alerting any guards, and it's probably the most fun I've ever had with a stealth game. Dunwall was a joy to blink around, with its rich, stylised art and sense of culture and history. If we never return to that world, it'll be a damn shame.
Phil For me, it's about the movement. Corvo's power lies in how slippery he feels, whether clambering over Victorian architecture or effortlessly tormenting guards.
31 THIEF II: THE METAL AGE
Release year 2000 Last position New entry
Cory I love Garrett's fragility. Trying to stand toe-to-toe in a fight was suicide, and a well-timed blackjack was hard to pull off. Also, I wish every game had water arrows.
Craig Not enough games allow you to move at your own pace. Thief II lets you skulk, sneak, and listen to pick your moment, but in vast mansions where you were never quite sure you couldn't be spotted.