100 of (my) Best PC Games, Part 5 (60–51)

Almost halfway there! You can see the previous parts below:

On with the countdown…

60. G-Police (Psygnosis, 1997)

G-Police is a truly one-of-a-kind game. It is a fiendishly difficult action flight sim in a unique cyberpunk setting, and nothing quite like it has been made since. Psygnosis sunk a significant amount of money, time and love into G-Police, and it shows. However, despite a reasonably successful critical and commercial response, the 1999 sequel never caught on, and the series ended there.

G-Police was ahead of its time, and if it had been released ten or twenty years later, I can imagine the response would have been noticeably different. Sadly, like so many Windows 95/98 based titles of the late 1990s, G-Police has fallen victim to technological change, and it is quite difficult to get running on modern PCs.

Who should play it?: G-Police is definitely not a game for the easily frustrated — it was notorious for its difficulty. However, if you don’t mind a bit of punishment, this is a great game for fans of sci-fi flightsims and cyberpunk aesthetic.

Where to get it: G-Police is no longer available on PC, so unless you want to play the PlayStation rerelease, you’ll have to turn to abandonware sites or The Internet Archive

59. Warcraft II (Blizzard Entertainment, 1995)

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Only a few years after first appearing, the RTS genre had quickly become the darling of the games industry, and a golden goose for game developers. While Westwood Studios continued to expand on the ideas first presented in Dune II, the little-known Blizzard decided to take the genre in a totally different direction, with a focus on detailed art and engaging plot. By the time Warcraft II was released, it was clear to everyone that Blizzard would be making waves in the industry.

Warcraft II was my first introduction to Blizzard and the Warcraft universe, and I found myself drawn in by the excellent story and incredible artwork of Chris Metzen, whose unique style has defined Blizzard’s work for decades. Warcraft II is one of my favourite games, and one of the most influential RTS games in the genre’s history.

Who should play it?: This is an essential game for Warcraft fans who may have come to the series with one of the later games. It’s also an excellent game for fans of competitive multiplayer RTS games, and is a blast in multiplayer.

Where to get it: GOG

58. Theme Hospital (Bullfrog Productions, 1997)

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From day one, Bullfrog established itself as a developer that pushed boundaries and challenged genre conventions, and Bullfrog makes three appearances in my top 100. Theme Hospital is one of their most famous games, and a pinnacle for the management genre. Inspired by the UK’s NHS, Theme Hospital is a satirical take on hospital administration — hospitals aren’t just for helping people! They’re for making money!

The game is peppered with trademark Bullfrog humour, and patients present with all sorts of made-up conditions such as Invisibility, Celebrity Personalities and Bloated Head Syndrome. Theme Hospital is a challenging and addictive game, and is about as close to a “perfect” game as you can get.

Who should play it?: If you’re a gamer that likes to obsess over efficiency, or you enjoy games like SimCity and other managerial games, then Theme Hospital might be for you.

Where to get it: GOG or Origin

57. Hover! (Microsoft, 1995)

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When Microsoft released Windows 95, they wanted a game that could showcase the new multimedia capabilities of their new operating system. Hover! was the result, and it came included on CD-ROM versions of Windows 95. Hover! was one of my first experiences of gaming on the Windows platform as opposed to MS-DOS. It is a simple capture the flag game using bumper-car style hovercraft.

Because it came included with Windows 95, it was ubiquitous, and its simple gameplay was infinitely approachable. It was also the first game I ever played at an internet cafe — on a family holiday while in Boston, USA.

Who should play it?: Hover! has little to offer modern gamers, but its low barrier to entry means there is no harm in trying, and remarkably it works without any difficulty on modern PCs running Windows 10.

Where to get it: Hover! is no longer distributed, but you can get it at most abandonware sites and also on The Internet Archive

56. Quest for Glory: So You Want to Be a Hero (Sierra On-Line, 1989)

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Quest for Glory was first released in 1989, but it wasn’t until the early 2000s I played the VGA remake, and I’m glad I did. Like LucasArts, Sierra was famous for its adventure games, and they had their own unique style. Quest for Glory is an adventure with light RPG elements and plenty of humour. Like other Sierra adventures, Quest for Glory has a lot of replayability, and there are several ways to beat the game and plenty of secrets to find.

In the early 2000s, I started delving into retro and classic gaming, and Quest for Glory was one the big highlights of those years. It also showed me that there is much fun to be had in classic gaming as well as contemporary gaming, and to this day classic games are an ongoing passion.

Who should play it?: Quest for Glory has aged very well, and the VGA version is a beautiful game. If you enjoy modern adventure games, then Quest for Glory is essential playing, as it is a game that inspired many that came after it.

Where to get it: You can get all five games in the series on GOG and Steam

55. Neverwinter Nights (BioWare, 2002)

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While Neverwinter Nights was a good game (particularly its expansions), it is remembered for what it did for RPGs and the games industry in general. Neverwinter Nights is an RPG based on the Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition tabletop RPG, and from the outset, it was designed with a tabletop mindset. Multiplayer was a central component, as was providing tools to allow players to run a multiplayer game like a tabletop session. NWN also has a powerful and easy to use editor.

Neverwinter Nights saw an explosion in the modding community, with creations ranging from simple dungeon adventures to entire massively multiplayer online games. Many of those modders have since established themselves as successful game designers. The NWN modding scene also extended the life of the game long after many games would have been forgotten, and new content is still being released almost twenty years after its release.

Who should play it?: Fans of D&D and RPG games should definitely give this one a go. It’s also quite the education for fans of later BioWare games to see how much the company has changed since there acquisition by EA.

Where to get it: You can get excellent Enhanced Edition on GOG and Steam

54. Peggle (PopCap Games, 2007)

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Peggle is one of those simple little puzzle games that might not look like much, but once you catch the Peggle bug, you won’t be able to put it down. It’s sort of like a combination of pinball, Tetris and Bust-a-Move, easy to pick up and hard to master. This was a certified favourite in my old share house, and we would literally spend hours trying to top each other’s scores.

One of the most satisfying parts of Peggle is the sound effect work. The game is an endless onslaught of euphoria-inducing sounds of positive reinforcement, and every level ends with a flash of lights and an epic, orchestral version of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. Peggle is, quite simply put, the ultimate casual game.

Who should play it?: Peggle is regularly on sale (at time of writing, it is currently $1.50), as is its sequel Peggle Nights. Such a simple, cheap and entertaining game should be in everyone’s catalogue.

Where to get it: Steam and Origin

53. Syndicate (Bullfrog Productions, 1993)

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Syndicate is another ground-breaking game from Bullfrog, but with a vastly different tone. Where Bullfrog’s other games like Theme Park, Theme Hospital and Dungeon Keeper were full of humour, Syndicate is a dark and violent game in a grim cyberpunk setting, where corporations regularly kidnap citizens to convert into their personal army of cyborg enforcers.

Syndicate is one of the pioneers of the real-time tactics genre, where the player is focused on controlling units on a micro scale, rather than the resource-managing macro scale in RTS games.

Who should play it?: The years are starting to show with Syndicate and its sequel Syndicate Wars, but they are still enjoyable games for fans of the RTT genre. If you want to try a modern spiritual successor, then Satellite Reign is a similar game from some of the original developers.

Where to get it: GOG and Origin

52. The Stanley Parable (Galactic Cafe, 2011)

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Games have come a long way since they first gained major popularity in the late 1970s. Early games were definitely “games” in the typical sense — the player was presented with a challenge, and they could either “win” or could continually chase a high score. Before long, however, games were incorporating complex, branching narratives in richly detailed worlds.

The Stanley Parable is evidence that games have finally evolved into a mature art form. It emerged during the indie boom in the early 2010s, but it was only recently that I had the pleasure of playing it, and I’m glad I finally did. This is an introspective game that takes a humorous look at the very nature of games themselves — any further detail would spoil the surprise.

Who should play it?: The Stanley Parable is a great little game for anyone, but I particularly recommend it to long-time gamers, who will be most likely to appreciate its clever commentary on our favourite art form.

Where to get it: Steam and Epic

51. LIMBO / INSIDE (Playdead, 2010 / 2016)

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LIMBO and INSIDE are two games that, for me, are inseparable. They are without a doubt my favourite platform games ever made. The cryptic, brooding plots have fuelled endless debates over their true meaning, while their design aesthetic is nothing short of fine art.

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Both games from Danish developer Playdead are heavy on symbolism and challenging but not insurmountable puzzles. They are relatively short games, but have provided me with plenty of replay value, as I am always ready to savour their unique atmospheres. Both are what I would call “perfect” games — any criticism is trivial when compared their overall brilliance.

Who should play them?: A must-play for fans of platformers, and unmissable for art-lovers and people who love surreal and symbolic narratives like one might expect from Phillip K. Dick or Franz Kafka.

Where to get them: LIMBO: GOG, Steam and Epic; INSIDE: GOG, Steam and Epic

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At some point in about 1989 I played my first videogames on a Sinclair ZX Spectrum. This was the beginning of a lifetime obsession with games...

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