Choicest Games Top 100: 81-90

90 – Star Wars: X-Wing vs TIE Fighter

Release Year: 1997

While I don't believe this was the strongest offering by Lucasarts when it came to the X-Wing and TIE Fighter games it's definitely the one that sticks in most recent memory. Improvements over the original includes sharper higher resolution graphics, texture mapping, CD-quality music and the ability for the game to run on Windows. The most important addition though is the ability to play the game in multiplayer and the game even offers the ability to play the campaign co-operatively with 8 human players total – something you rarely see even today.

89 – Emperor: Battle for Dune

Release Year: 2001

Emperor: Battle for Dune is the last Dune Real-Time Strategy game to have been developed by Westwood Studios and while not as ground-breaking as Dune II the game brought along several improvements such as a 3D graphics engine and a non-linear campaign where you were able to ally with sub-factions (and gain additional units). Some things never change though and Emperor: Battle for Dune still retained the Westwood Studios hallmark of using Full Motion Video cutscenes: they even managed to get the likes of Michael Dorn to portray Duke Achillus Atreides, leader of House Atreides ("Long live the Fighters!"). The game boasts an excellent soundtrack too with very different styles for each of the game's factions thanks to Frank Klepacki, David Arkenstone and Jarrid Mendelson.

88 – Prey

Release Year: 2006

Prey is one of those games that comes out of nowhere but manages to become a critical and commercial success regardless. While on the surface it just seems to be your ordinary First Person Shooter based on the id tech 4 engine, it does a couple of things differently. Firstly, the game explores many elements of Cherokee culture and even the protagonist is voice acted by a Native American (Michael Greyeyes) who was impressed with the way 3D Realms conceived the main character Tommy. Secondly the game contains many environmental puzzles involving portals and gravity. Tommy is even able to use his Cherokee heritage in order to release his spirit for a short time in order to activate control panels or dispatch enemies with a spirit bow.

To top it all off, Prey has a top notch soundtrack thanks to many licensed classics as well as the efforts of veteran game composer Jeremy Soule.

87 – Left 4 Dead 2

Release Year: 2009

Left 4 Dead 2 was released only a year or two after the first game in the series but that's probably because it uses the same engine. In fact the game itself is very similar to its predecessor but it does manage to add some new weapons to the mix as well as set the game in America's Deep South. The game's plot also follows on from the original so fans of the original may even get to see a cameo or two. While the game is by no means revolutionary, it's a lot of fun thanks to its addictive co-op and versus multiplayer options.

86 – Sins of a Solar Empire

Release Year: 2008

While I never really played Sins of a Solar Empire as extensively as two judges on this panel, I can definitely appreciate why it's so popular. The game manages to fill in a niche originally occupied by Relic's space RTS hit Homeworld yet go even further by incorporating 4X elements that you would normally see in a game like Master of Orion. The game also ran on modest system requirements for its day meaning almost anyone could enjoy waging sci-fi war on each other. Sins of a Solar Empire is definitely one to add to your library if you love commanding starships into battle.

85 – Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30

Release Year: 2005

Before the huge success of Borderlands made Gearbox Software a household name, they worked on WWII First Person Shooters such as this addition to our Top 100 list. You're probably asking "But wait, weren't WWII shooters a dime a dozen in the early 2000s?" and you'd be right – which is why Brothers in Arms was special since it revitalised the genre by making your typical WWII shooter less about lightning reflexes and more about tactics. In Brothers in Arms you don't have perfect accuracy and your aim is even affected by suppressive fire. In order to counter this you're meant to issue orders to your squad so they can provide suppressive fire or flank the enemy. Only through teamwork can you achieve your goal (not heroics). When the game was originally released it was definitely a welcome change despite the WWII setting being almost done to death.

84 – The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

Release Year: 2006

A few years ago, adventurers used to be just like you but then they took arrows to their knees. A few years before that though, we had the fourth instalment in The Elder Scrolls series: Oblivion and If we're going to be brutally honest, Skyrim is pretty much an Oblivion 2.0. Sure the graphics are prettier and you're in an entirely new province and you can "FUS RO DAH" your way through any obstacle, but at its core, the game is the same. Oblivion is also set in the Imperial Province of Cyrodiil (which I've always had a soft spot for) with the imposing Imperial City at its heart. The province is a melting pot of different cultures thanks to its central location, bordering six of Tamriel's provinces, and you can visibly see the changes in demographics and architecture as you head outwards from the Imperial City. The province is probably my favourite setting out of the recent three main Elder Scrolls games and it also has an awesome intro – but maybe that's just because I'm a Patrick Stewart fan...

83 – Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven

Release Year: 2002

To be honest, this game is probably only notable for me thanks to its excellent soundtrack featuring licensed music from the 1930s, mainly by Django Reinhardt. Actually, being set in the 1930s was a good choice to help distinguish this game from the rest since it's essentially another Grand Theft Auto (GTA) clone. However, up until that time, the folks at Rockstar never bothered exploring this part of history in their games so kudos to Illusion Softworks for getting there first. The game is also more serious and less flippant than the GTA series, following a plot quite similar to one of the best films of all time, The Godfather.

82 – Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura

Release Year: 2001

Made by a software developer that only managed to pump out three games before folding, Arcanum was their most successful and probably most famous (although Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines is one of their cult classics). Troika Games was formed by RPG veterans that used to work at Interplay and their first project was an ambitious one set in a steampunk/fantasy world experiencing an Industrial Revolution where it's not uncommon to see a Half-Orc wearing a top hat and dinner jacket (okay actually, that's not entirely true since Half-Orcs are treated like dirt, but everyone's wearing Victorian attire). The amount of effort that went into creating this world including how magic and technology interact with each other is mind boggling and despite the game being quite buggy there is an epic adventure to partake in with multiple potential endings depending on the choices you make. The soundtrack was also avant-garde for its time by having a string quartet perform most of the tracks. Not surprisingly, this actually works well considering the Victorian/steampunk setting of the game.

81 – The Longest Journey

Release Year: 1999

Towards the late 90s, the point 'n' click adventure genre was starting to decline. First Person Shooters and Real-Time Strategy games were all the rage and MMORPGs were slowly gaining acceptance. So when Norwegian game developer Funcom released one called The Longest Journey in 1999, it was facing an uphill battle. Thankfully for Funcom, the game was a huge success selling almost half a million copies in the first couple of years alone. So why was it so successful? It basically comes down to an epic plot where the fate of two worlds, the magical fantasy world of Arcadia, and the grim, cyberpunk, technology world of Stark, hangs in the balance. The game's themes are also more mature than what was normally experienced in point 'n' click adventures up to that point meaning the game wasn't trying to insult the player's intelligence (or maybe Funcom simply realised the legion of point 'n' click adventure gamers were also ageing too). The game was successful enough to warrant two sequels: 2006's Dreamfall and 2014's Dreamfall Chapters. Two of the judges on the panel felt the original was one of the best games to be released in 1999 and consequently it's made the Choicest Games Top 100.


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