50 – Civilization IV
Release Year: 2005
As you read this Choicest Games Top 100 list you'll start to realise there are a lot of Civilization games on it - in fact every Civilization game from the main series features except for Civilization III (I have to apologise to my friend Danno in advance, but rest assured it does feature in the Honourable Mentions). So this is the first game from the main series to feature in the list and also the first Civilization game to use a 3D map - in fact you could zoom out and see the entire globe in this iteration of Civ. The game also has the best title track in the entire series - good enough for Christopher Tin (the track's composer) to win a Grammy award in 2011 (making it the first piece of music composed for a computer game to win one).
Civilization IV is the favourite Civilization game for one of the judges and is rated highly by two of the other judges.
49 – Worms
Release Year: 1995
The Worms series has been around for a long time now with over 20 games in the main series not to mention several spin-off titles as well. However, the one that started it all is the one that has made our Top 100: the original 1995 Worms by Team 17. While on the surface the game just seems like any other game from the artillery genre (lending a lot to Wendell Hicken's Scorched Earth) it does have a distinct brand of British humour along with quite a bit of customisation in terms of the terrain, worm names and voice packs. The game also boasted local multiplayer so it was a great game to pass the time with a couple of friends. The game also features a very catchy theme song by Bjørn Lynne.
The game is rated as one of the best games of the mid-1990s by three of the judges on the panel.
48 – Quake III
Release Year: 1999
While I still have a soft spot for the original Quake, it's Quake III that has managed to rate higher on our Top 100 list, probably because it's actually been experienced by more of the judges. Quake III took what was best about the original Quake, i.e. multiplayer and made the game into the definitive deathmatch shooter. Fans of Unreal Tournament would no doubt disagree but for fast-paced rocket-jumping action, you couldn't go past Quake III. The engine used for Quake III, id tech 3, was also an important development for PC gaming in general as famous games such as Call of Duty, Medal of Honor – Allied Assault and Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory would use modified builds of it.
47 – Command & Conquer: Generals
Release Year: 2003
Here we are at the first Command & Conquer title to make the Top 100 list: C&C: Generals. Generals was quite a bit different to previous Command & Conquer titles; for example, like Starcraft, you now had three sides that played quite differently from each other and unlike previous games, the factions were based on recent “superpowers" such as the USA and China (the Global Liberation Army was a faction to represent terrorists in general – the game did come out during the start of the so-called “War on Terror" after all). The game has an entertaining single player campaign but its true strength lies with its multiplayer capabilities the game becoming a favourite of competitive gaming tournaments during the 2000s. Fans of the series are still awaiting a proper sequel as EA's last attempt went through development hell before being cancelled at the end of 2013.
The game also boasts an exceptional soundtrack that wouldn't sound out of place in the film Black Hawk Down, thanks to the efforts of Bill Brown and Mikael Sandgren.
46 – Left 4 Dead
Release Year: 2008
During the mid-2000s there seemed to be a drought of good co-operative multiplayer games but this all changed when in 2008 Left 4 Dead was released. Built to be a co-operative game from the ground up, developer Turtle Rock Studios showed everyone else how it was done. Left 4 Dead is a survival horror first person shooter where you and a group of “Survivors" has to make your way to a safehouse at the end of the level fighting hordes of zombies along the way. Simple right? What makes things interesting however is that the spawning of zombies changes each time you play and not only that but the game has a “Director AI" which calculates the “stress" levels of each character in the party. So just when you think it's safe, don't be surprised to find a zombie jumping out of the shadows to get you! The game still remains one of the best co-operative FPSs I've ever played and if you're not satisfied with just co-operative play, there's also a Versus mode where you get to play as the zombies.
45 – Dragon Age: Origins
Release Year: 2009
Dragon Age: Origins was Bioware's first fantasy RPG to be set in their own universe. Okay that's not technically true since you could say 2005's Jade Empire fits that description although Jade Empire was more of an action RPG and it was set in a Far Eastern setting not a traditional fantasy one. Prior to Dragon Age, Bioware were most famous for Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights (both based off Dungeons & Dragons) when it came to fantasy RPGs but in 2009 they were going to set off on their own path. The game was a critical and commercial success thanks to a combination of epic story, likeable characters, multiple “Origin" stories and endings, and a return to more tactical gameplay seen in earlier Bioware RPGs. The game also has a superb soundtrack thanks to Inon Zur.
44 – Day of Defeat
Release Year: 2000
One of the best side effects of the game Half-Life was the fact so many well-loved mods were developed using its engine. Just about everyone has heard about Counter-Strike but there was another mod which was developed around the same time to (what I believe) capitalise on the renewed interest of World War II films such as 1998's Saving Private Ryan. Day of Defeat is a WWII mod which unlike the team deathmatch that was Counter-Strike, focused on teams working together to capture objectives. The game also has class-based gameplay meaning a greater need for teammates to cooperate in order to attack and hold objectives. I invested way too much time with the game and I still think it's one of the best close-quarters WWII multiplayer shooters ever (for large maps with WWII vehicles however, you can't really go past Battlefield 1942).
43 – Grim Fandango
Release Year: 1998
Ah, Grim Fandango. Developed during the final years of what I consider the Golden Age of Lucasarts point 'n' click adventure games, this game had a really strange setting, but with Tim Schafer at the helm, it's not entirely surprising. You play the role of a travel agent named Manny Calavera, but not just any travel agent: you play a dead one, living in a Mexican-inspired afterlife. The game spans over several years in an Art Deco world inhabited by many wonderful characters with a jazzy soundtrack courtesy of Peter McConnell. It rates as one of the best games of all time with two of the judges on the panel and Tim Schafer thought it was worth remastering, the remastered edition being released just earlier this year.
42 – Full Throttle
Release Year: 1995
Yet another classic Lucasarts point 'n' click adventure game makes the list – yet another one by Tim Schafer. Full Throttle is a game set in the near future in a harsh, desolate place that looks similar to the South-Western United States. Bikie gangs dominate the area including one that your character Ben leads called “The Polecats". An old man called Malcolm Corley is the CEO of the last motorcycle manufacturer in the country, Corley Motors (which develops cruiser motorcycles similar to Harley Davidson) and on the way to a shareholders meeting bumps into Ben and his gang. Little does Ben or Malcolm realise what the rest of the day has in store for them all thanks to Adrian Ripburger (voiced by Mark Hamill), Malcolm's VP.
Full Throttle has it all: Gorgeous cartoon-style animation, an action-packed story, memorable characters, superb voice acting and a rockin' soundtrack courtesy of American rock band, Gone Jackals. The only things you could criticise are the game's length and the Road Rash-like fighting segments (although I personally enjoyed them). The game rates as one of the best point 'n' click adventure games ever with two of the judges on the panel.
41 – Command & Conquer
Release Year: 1995
This is the game that got me into RTSs. While Dune II did come out earlier than Command & Conquer this near-future RTS where you have to extract a fictional resource called “Tiberium" had me hooked (and I was a Westwood Studios fan ever since). This game would be the first Westwood Studios RTS to start the tradition of Full Motion Video (FMV) cutscenes and each faction, the Global Defense Initiative (or GDI) and the Brotherhood of Nod, had cutscenes recorded specifically for each of their campaigns. While they look very primitive now especially with the hammy acting, it was quite revolutionary back in 1995. The game also had an excellent soundtrack thanks to in-house composer Frank Klepacki and unlike previous games was the first to employ streaming music instead of MIDIs or MODs. Klepacki states that several musicians influenced the soundtrack including Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel and Nine Inch Nails.