Best of 2010: PC
It's easy to forget sometimes that this old typing/internet browsing machine also doubles up as a pretty impressive gaming system too. It's been quite a prolific year for PC gaming too with plenty to captivate all gamers, regardless of their tastes or interests. From indie based gems to blockbuster RPG epics and highly anticipated Real Time Strategy games, there's plenty to attract all tastes. Here's a selection of the best PC games we've picked out from 2010.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
A digital only release, Amnesia: The Dark Descent will have been overlooked by many. It shouldn't be. Instead it should be applauded for being genuinely scary. Unlike other survival horror games, Amnesia: The Dark Descent leaves you defenceless. There are no weapons to help you as you flee; instead you have to rely on your wits and your ability to flee. That's not to say that Amnesia: The Dark Descent is dull. Far from it in fact. The constant need to keep sane by not stepping into the darkness means there's plenty to keep an eye on, and the plot gradually unfolds in an intriguing manner. You play a man with no memory who finds himself trapped in a castle and pursued by evil creatures. Throughout, the foreboding atmosphere keeps you on edge making for a distinctly memorable experience.
Battlefield Bad Company 2
From a subtle but creepy first person experience to an explosive and bombastic First Person Shooter, we come to Battlefield Bad Company 2. Cynics might have looked at it before its release expecting a Call of Duty: Modern Warfare clone but this was quickly dispelled once you actually spent some time with it. Bad Company 2 offered a meaty single player campaign but its true strength lies with the multiplayer. Offering an intense, tactical and satisfying experience, playing as part of a team was essential in multiplayer. While other multiplayer FPS games allowed rushing and spraying and praying, you earned every kill in Bad Company 2. The multitude of different game modes and vehicles that could be used throughout made Bad Company 2 an equal to the iconic Battlefield 2 and superior to the unfortunately buggy Call of Duty: Black Ops.
Ahh Civilization, a series that is so addictive you'll happily lose sleep for. Nearing its 20th anniversary, Civilization V still hasn't loosened its grip on the turn based strategy trophy. There's a slight change with a new game engine using hexagonal tiles instead of square tiles but never fear, it's still business as usual. The combat system has been overhauled and much improved amongst other more subtle changes. Crucially, everything is accommodating to both newcomers and old hands alike. Combined, these elements make Civilization V the best Civilization title yet and an unmissable purchase. Just don't expect to have a normal sleeping pattern for a while.
Fallout: New Vegas
Fallout: New Vegas isn't perfect. This might sound like an odd thing to say in a roundup of the best games of the year, but it's not. It is however still very much worth being featured here. While Fallout: New Vegas has suffered more than its fair share of bugs and freezes - even after a patch - it's still a great game. Much the same as Fallout 3, the V.A.T.S system makes a return and the entire UI is near identical to the previous title. The addition of a factions system whereby reputation is everything adds an interesting twist, much like the new crafting and weapon modification system which is much more expansive than Fallout 3's attempt. The 'New' Vegas theme adds some great thematic elements and the hugely challenging Hardcore mode means you'll be playing this for countless hours to come.
Football Manager 2011
If the previous two games haven't deprived you of sleep, Football Manager 2011 is destined to do so. Nothing can beat the sheer joy of leading your team to victory, much the same as nothing can beat the terrible sorrow that defeat and relegation can bring. Football Manager has always been digital crack, even more so now thanks to the improvements across the board with Football Manager 2011. Training has been enhanced significantly, agents have a much bigger role to play and all other interactions play a pivotal part throughout the game. The AI engine on the whole is much improved making for the ultimate football management experience.
Mass Effect 2
Borrowing from Scott Pilgrim vs. The World for a moment, Mass Effect 2 is an epic of epic epicness. Following on from the previous title, you play Commander Shepard as he and his band of trusty companions must stop the evil Collectors. Similar gameplay to the original Mass Effect - itself strikingly similar to Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic - is afoot here but everything has been tweaked. The AI is much improved and a regenerating health system makes things slightly less frustrating. The true success lies with the storyline though which is as gripping as ever, leaving you desperate to play the final game in the trilogy.
Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale
Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is another digital download game that's succeeded mostly through phenomenal word of mouth. It's an RPG with a difference - you play the role of the item shop keeper. The tenuous story relates to having to pay off your father's debt within a very short amount of time. On a week by week basis, the debt repayments increase making each week tighter and tighter to succeed at. Besides simply buying low and selling high, you can take an adventurer through a dungeon in order to collect more items to sell. Each dungeon is randomly constructed and the further you progress, the more dungeons unlock. Recettear also offers a system much like Dead Rising's levelling up system whereby failing isn't as bad as it seems, you retain your level and can start right back at the beginning again. It's a quirky and typically Japanese RPG but it rightfully deserves to be called one of the best indie games of the year.
Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse
The Devil's Playhouse was released on an episodic basis across the year. While the cliff-hanger endings might not be so relevant now that you can play through the parts one after the other, it's still a fantastically enjoyable adventure game. Sam & Max are as zany as ever, particularly in Max's case who has gained some psychic abilities since the previous season. It's the strongest season yet with each episode being rich with jokes and entertaining puzzles. The new psychic abilities allow for a new variety of puzzles such as future vision which enables you to see what you must do next and the Astral Projection which makes the second episode feel like a Sam & Max version of Pulp Fiction. You won't be bored with this point and click adventure; you'll be grinning like a loon instead.
StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty
Due to the wonders of the alphabet, Blizzard's two behemoth releases make up the rear of this list. StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty is the first on the list offering intense RTS action. While controversy dogged it before its release thanks to the lack of LAN play, it was swiftly forgotten when everyone realised that it's a fantastic game. All three species from the original game returned ensuring that the StarCraft lore continued to compel players. The improved multiplayer matchmaking functionality made setting up new games simple and the variety of maps was very welcome. A multiplayer RTS game that's destined to keep players playing well into 2011 and onwards.
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm
Destroying a world so popular was a brave move by Blizzard but it's fortunately become a huge success with World of Warcraft's latest expansion pack: Cataclysm. It was impossible to not feel saddened at the destruction that was inflicted by the sweeping changes. Having spent up to 5 years roaming the world of Azeroth, it was like having your hometown annihilated. These changes begat great progress though. With two new races in the form of Goblins and Worgens, and the addition of new race/class combinations, there were plenty of new things to do. The level cap was increased to 85, flying was enabled for old world areas and thousands of new quests were added. Whether you're a new player or old, there's plenty of new things to do here making for a fantastic revamp of the hugely successful MMORPG.
These are just our picks of the many PC games to hit our systems in 2010. What are your favourites?