90 KERBAL SPACE PROGRAM
Release 2013 Last position New entry
Phil The simple satisfaction of constructing a rocket ship, and the helpless horror of watching it crash and burn. Kerbal Space Program's appeal lies in both these things. It's a test of engineering and a lesson in abject failure, all set against the majesty of space.
Wes For the first three hours of my Kerbal aerospace career, I strapped together as many rockets as I could and laughed as they exploded mid-takeoff. The next three hours I spent learning the ropes of ship design and experimenting with aerodynamics. And then I actually tried to achieve a stable orbit. And then I shot for the mun. And suddenly, oops, I had played 30 hours of Kerbal Space Program. At least I was a little smarter.
Ian So much of gaming is 'serious' and 'gritty'—but KSP is built with almost child-like awe.
89 CALL OF CTHULHU: DARK CORNERS OF THE EARTH
Release year 2006 Last position 98
Tony Frantically clawing my way out of the decaying Gilman Hotel, the murderous Innsmouth-folk hacking down doors to get at me... that remains one of my all-time great gaming experiences. Perfectly set up by the ominous, slow-paced investigation that precedes it, perfectly balanced by the manhunt through the dark and windy streets that follows. DCotE has its faults, but its standout moments beat those of any other horror game out there.
88 QUAKE III
Release year 1999 Last position 44
Evan Speed. Marksmanship. Purity. No FPS matches the height of Quake III's skill ceiling. Fast player movement, easy-to-learn, hard-tomaster weapons, and stripped-down action make Quake the most sportlike FPS ever created. The athleticism on display in high-level Quake is matched only by Tribes; when you're in the zone, every +1 to your K column is a result of juggling fluctuating math for gravity, distance, sight lines, rocket trajectories, or the quad-damage refresh time.
87 ASSASSIN'S CREED II
Release year 2010 Last position 88
Tony I have a bit of a thing for renaissance Italy, and this is the game that lets me have adventures there, and climb all over its wonderful architecture. It's a world full of history and colour, more vibrant than any number of fantasy settings. E Venezia? È bellissima.
Samuel I hated the original Assassin's Creed, but Ezio proved to be far superior company to Altair. And yes, its interpretation of Venice is still the series' most impressive locale. Also: beating up the evil pope.
86 VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE—BLOODLINES
Release year 2004 Last position 89
Philippa Pick your way through vampire politics, pursue curious questlines and, if you're playing now, revel in the community's bug-crushing efforts. Bloodlines is a masterpiece of immersive storytelling—a flawed but rare gem.
Chris It's a shame that its launch issues held it back from wider appreciation. It's a beautifully structured immersive sim with a phenomenal sense of place. I still secretly like the Lacuna Coil song from the credits.
85 BATTLEFIELD: BAD COMPANY 2
Release year 2010 Last position New entry
Phil Why did Battlefield's multiplayer stop being so destructive? Sure, Battlefield 4 does a decent job of depicting mapchanging catastrophe, but Bad Company 2's demolitions feel more targeted and immediate. The most intense moments come while crouched in a house, defending the team's M-COM station. At any moment the walls can erupt in a shower of concrete and attackers pour in through the newly created entrance. It's better than watching a skyscraper fall over. Again.
84 BROKEN SWORD
Release year 1996 Last position New entry
Andy Broken Sword tied history, mythology and modern crime together brilliantly—and years before Dan Brown even lifted a pen. This adventure game was wellwritten, atmospheric and beautifully drawn. Later sequels inexplicably turned George Stobbart into a stubbly action hero, but here he's the goofy but shrewd patent lawyer who finds himself embroiled in a conspiracy involving secret societies, the Knights Templar, and an illtempered goat.
83 X-COM / UFO: ENEMY UNKNOWN
Release year 1994 Last position New entry
Richard The remake was cool, but nothing else has ever quite hit the level of making you feel like you could take on an alien invasion, nor as glad that you'll never have to. It's a game where success and failure balance on a knife-edge from the first incursion, before turning into a righteous snowball effect as you turn the enemy's weapons against them. And the enemy was still actually unknown. Not like the new one. They're Sectoids, silly.
82 ULTIMA VII
Release year 1992 Last position 90
Richard If you've been impressed by an RPG in the last 20 years, be sure that on some level it owes a tip of the hat to this one. Epic, political, and the last game to be able to get away with ye olde English. It's Lord British's masterpiece.
Tony It's livelier and more interactive than those later RPGs ever managed, too. It's like lifting the lid off a fantasy ant farm: all those little NPCs scurrying around, going to work, tutting about the weather. An amazing backdrop for an all-time great adventure.
81 TOTAL WAR: ROME II
Release year 2013 Last position New entry
Tony It's all about the battles. The epic sieges that start out all clockwork precision and superior numbers, and collapse before your eyes into a desperate last-minute struggle for possession. The vast, empire-changing conflicts that end up balanced on one wavering unit of legionnaires, while all you can do is gnaw your mouse cable and watch.