Choicest Games Top 100: 51-60

60 – Quake

Release Year: 1996

If it weren't for the development of Quake there'd be no Team Fortress, my favourite mod of all time and now a major cash cow for Valve (mainly due to the selling of hats). But the game Quake is still important in its own right. Quake was one of the earliest games to offer full real-time 3D rendering and early support for 3D acceleration through OpenGL. It also helped make online multiplayer popular thanks to QuakeWorld which allowed players with dial-up modems to play with each other over the Internet using server browsing programs such as QuakeSpy (which eventually became GameSpy).

The game also boasts a top notch soundtrack by Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails, as well as being the basis for several game engines including the GoldSrc engine which would be used for Half-Life.

59 – SWAT 4

Release Year: 2005

SWAT 4 is a tactical first-person shooter developed by Irrational Games that, as the name suggests, involves working in a SWAT tactical element in order to accomplish objectives. The game was critically acclaimed for its day and I just love the fact that the game is so much fun as a co-op LAN game. Not only that, but the game actually encourages planning and the use of non-lethal force as you are rewarded with more points by doing so (you're meant to be cops after all). I have fond memories of this game at one particular LAN where a Leeroy Jenkins moment transpired as a fifth team member went and cleared out a map indiscriminately while the rest of us were still debating on what to do behind a door. Good times.

It's probably the best tactical shooter I've ever played and it's a pity they never seriously continued on with the series. Two of the other judges also liked the game, one even rating it as one of his favourite games ever.

58 – The Wolf Among Us

Release Year: 2013

This was actually a surprise entry to the list for a couple reasons: it's a game that was released quite recently and it isn't the game that is famous for debuting Telltale Games's new change in direction with respect to adventure games (which are more like comic-book style visual novels). The Wolf Among Us happens to be the first game on this list that all judges rated favourably with two of them rating it higher (but only just) than the The Walking Dead. Why is that the case? Well, for one, the source material which is Bill Willingham's Fables, despite its dark and gritty take on fairy tales, is actually more accessible since just about everyone has heard a fairy tale or two while growing up and are probably a bit curious to see how they would cope in the "real" world. Also the neo noir style to the game is definitely one I approve of and perhaps one that many other players do too.

57 – Civilization: Beyond Earth

Release Year: 2014

Civilization: Beyond Earth is probably one of the more controversial choices to enter this list receiving mixed reviews from the fans although solid reviews from critics (including this blog). While it definitely wasn't as innovative as Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, I still believe the game is an entertaining sci-fi take on Civ V with a glorious soundtrack to boot (and I'm not the only one, with all judges rating the game favourably with two highly recommending the game).

56 – Black & White

Release Year: 2001

Black & White is a game that was developed by Lionhead Studios and designed by a man all too familiar with the "god game" genre, Peter Molyneux. While I confess to never having played the original game in its entirety (I vaguely remembering playing a demo), the game is remembered fondly by two of the judges on the panel, one going so far as to say it's one of the best games of all time. I guess some of the things going for it is the fact the game is a lot like Molyneux's hit series Populous except with a giant pet animal that is meant to be the world's representation of you (i.e. your avatar). Depending on whether you commit good or evil actions, the avatar and the town itself changes to reflect your nature, a bit like how your appearance changes in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.

55 – Guild Wars 2

Release Year: 2012

While not as ground-breaking as the original Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2 was nevertheless an ambitious title as it was aiming to offer the same business model as the original game (i.e. an MMO with a one-time purchase and no subscription fees) yet add a persistent world where everyone could interact each other, instead of the heavily instanced world in the original. The game turned out to be in many ways much better than the original, although two things that annoy me are how dungeons are linked to the storyline (the final storyline mission is a dungeon) and the fact the game seems a lot less tactical than the original. Otherwise, it's pretty damn good and a huge time sink.

54 – Company of Heroes

Release Year: 2006

In 2006, Relic Entertainment had already made a name of itself when it came to revitalising the RTS genre with classics such as Homeworld (which missed the top 100 list by this much) and Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War. This time though, they were going to introduce what would become the most immersive WWII RTS I've ever played (and probably anyone has played). The graphics were phenomenal for its day and despite the game being not as fast-paced as more traditional RTSs, it was still pretty hectic. That's because unlike traditional RTSs there is so much more to worry about, like troop morale or how much cover the sector has for your troops; even the direction your tanks face determines how long they could survive since just like in real life, rear hits are dangerous. The game has a great Band of Brothers style single player campaign and multiplayer is a blast too. Company of Heroes is a solid RTS worthy of the Top 100 list and one of the judge's favourite games of all time.

53 – Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? Deluxe

Release Year: 1992

While this game wasn't even given a score by one of the judges on this list (probably because it was a bit before his time) it was rated as one of the best games of the early 90s by the remainder of the judges. The only reason it probably scored higher than the original 1985 version (which is also on this Top 100 list) is thanks mainly to me as I never played the original - only this revamped 1990 remake. As far as I can tell though, it still retains the same formula as the original game except with crisper, more colourful graphics (including digitized photos from National Geographic) and music/sound clips from the Smithsonian/Folkways Recordings. It was a great edutainment title and a fun way to learn geography.

52 – Age of Empires II

Release Year: 1999

For many, their first experience with the Age of Empires series wasn't the original game set during ancient times (even though that was when I was first introduced to the series) but its much improved, medieval sequel, Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings. The game features 13 playable factions and probably has more in common with a game like Sid Meier's Civilization than other RTSs of the day which I believe helped it to become so successful. One of the judges on the panel thought it was one of the best games of the late 1990s with yet another considering it one of the best games of all time.

The game was popular enough for the game to receive the HD treatment and was rereleased a couple of years back.

51 – Master of Orion II

Release Year: 1996

While Master of Orion may have started the series that would become akin to Civilization in space, its sequel is probably the most accessible of the trilogy. Speaking of Civilization in space, Master of Orion II probably shares more in common with Civilization than its predecessor, ridding itself of the slider bars in favour of allocating discrete workers to different tasks similar to Civilization. The game still retained other features the original was famous for, like the ability to design your own spaceships and then command your fleets during battles. It was good fun and a game I invested way too many hours in (and at least one of the judges seems to agree with me)!


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