This is going to be hard!! I will write a Mini Review of my top games of all time here and be adding further links to more detail about each game as the blog expands.

My criteria for this selection is not necessarily the BEST games, but ones I would HAVE TO HAVE if I were only allowed these games for the rest of my life… this is “Desert Island Discs” for games 😀        …as long as they have an internet connection on this deserted island, we’ll be fine!

What are yours? Please comment but also base your selections on the same criteria. I guess for clarity I should mention that for example, of course, Deus Ex is a fantastic game and achievement, but could you play it forever? I couldn’t, so it’s not going in this list. Doesn’t mean I didn’t like it, but I want games that are “keepers” – for which, for me, they need to be deep and highly replayable. I prefer the “sandbox” type games for this reason so please don’t take offence if your favourite game is not on here, but it would be great to hear your arguments as to why you think it should be! 🙂

So here goes, with my absolute favourite first:-

  1. GT Legends: (Racing simulator by SimBin/10tacle Studios – released 2005)
    I have probably spent more time in GT Legends than all my other games put together, so I guess that automatically gives it the number 1 spot?!
    Based on 1965, 67 and 78 cars, but a recreation of the modern-day classic car racing series (now run by Top Hat). I feel like I am at one with the game… like I really am driving a car and can feel the slightest difference in it’s handling. I use a really nice wheel/pedal/H-shift gearstick setup, and with a 37″ screen about 60cm away (which I also want transported to my island) – it is the most absorbing thing in the world! Realistic car physics, tyre behaviour, car setup tweaks, force feedback steering, a massive number of downloadable tracks (and some new cars as mods too), and a great bunch of online gentlemen racers this game (and genre in general) is absolutely amazing!
  2. Civilization IV: (Turn Based Strategy by Firaxis/Sid Meier – released 2005)
    A truly ever-lasting game if you want it to be. Athough GT Legends is at #1, if I were only allowed one game, it would probably be Civilization because of the insane depth, variety, and replayability. It gets even more meat if you add the expansion packs Warlords and Beyond The Sword. I love that you can go at your own pace in single player mode, or play more competitively in multiplayer online. I have been playing this game for years and still don’t fully understand it so every minute is still a learning experience. What more could you ask of a game!? Maybe Civ 5 will be even better!!!??? 😀
  3. Sins of a Solar Empire: (Real Time Strategy by Stardock – released 2008)
    An epic space RTS with a unique and gorgeous interface which makes managing the game, even with it’s epic scale, very streamlined. It plays more like a board game than an action game and with the addition of the 2 more recent official expansions (Entrenchment and Diplomacy) there is a good amount of depth to the gameplay. It’s billed as an “RT4X” game (Real Time Explore, Expand, Exploit, and Exterminate) but what they have managed to pull off and what puts me off a lot of these games, is that in the late-game it doesn’t all become overwhelming! Things like the innovative “Empire Tree” allows you to see at-a-glance the status, position and strength of your forces around the galaxy. You can order ship replenishment and planet upgrades without having to actually scroll/find them, and you can assign ship factories to output new ships directly to your fleets so you don’t have to micro-manage your units leaving you to focus on the overall strategy. It’s depth and relationship between various research, factions, ship types and diplomacy means it’s got that classic element of “easy to learn, hard to master” which I find very appealing in games.
  4. Sim City 4: (Simulation by Maxis – released 2003)
    I’m in 2 minds about Sim City 4 or putting Cities XL in it’s place. Undoubtedly Sim City 4 is a better simulation and underlying game, but I just loved the creative freedom of the CXL graphics engine (curved roads, custom parks, fully movable camera in 3D space) but the game was weak and the strategy of Monte Cristo extremely questionable. I think going by my criteria Sim City 4 wins because of the much more ‘living sandbox’ nature, the stronger game mechanics and the way your city would evolve with a life of it’s own if you managed your city well. We need a Sim City 5!!!
  5. EVE Online: (MMO by CCP – released 2003)
    I can absolutely see the fascination with MMORPG games, but I have never been able to get into the fantasy theme most of them adhere to (looking at you WoW!)… but EVE Online did capture my attention for some time. It is a game I keep going back to then stopping a few months later. You really do need a LOT of time to put into this game to get anything worthwhile back – which sounds perfect for desert island life! The structure of the game is unique in that ALL players are on the same server which really does make this an alternate world.. and you can so easily get lost in it. Regularly there are 50,000 people online at the same time which just boggles my mind. And 7 years on there is no sign of it letting up with more and more joiining every day! The level of depth is astounding and overwhelming, but the community is ever ready to help you learn. It’s really something to get your teeth stuck into, but I just haven’t got the time to do it justice 😦
  6. Battlefield 2: (First Person Shooter by Dice Interactive – released 2005)
    I joined this game late, thinking I wouldn’t really be interested but I was wrong! I love the feeling of being part of a war effort, and you AREN’T the hero. You ARE expendable, so you gotta make sure you make yourself useful! I love the new Battlefield Bad Company 2 and will probably never go back to Battlefield 2 now, but really this was the pinnacle of PC multiplayer shooters in my view. If BC2 had 64 players per server and maps to match then hands down it would be better… Dice really do know how to put a MP game together, but blighted by console limitations it’s not all it could have been unfortunately so their older title wins out for my “keepers” list. I find games like ArmA too serious and complex and prefer the semi-arcade style of Battlefield to keep me interested. Don’t even get me started on Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising!!
  7. Rome, Total War: (Real Time & Turn Based Strategy by Creative Assembly – released 2004)
    There is something about this time period that I adore. I admit I have trouble getting through a whole campaign as they go on for such a long time, but with all the hours I will have alone on my island this would be the perfect time to finally complete the game! I have also played Empire: Total War but really don’t like the ship combat sections. Sometimes less is more and I think Rome had the best balance of depth and clarity… they just have to keep adding don’t they!!
  8. R.U.S.E.: (Real Time Strategy by Eugen / Ubisoft – released 2010)
    Now, I may be jumping the gun a bit here seeing as the game is not even released yet, but from the amount I have played the VIP and Public BETA, I just know I am going to love this game! It’s a relaxed but fast paced (if that makes sense) pure macro-strategy game. The strategies you can employ are almost endless and it’s great fun trying out new approaches which might work one time and might not the next – depends how you pull it off and who you are up against. The novel idea is that you can use deception (accrue “ruse” points during the game and spend them on various time-limited bonuses/boosts such as radio silence in a sector, camo nets, spies, speed boosts, terrorism, fake bases and attacks) which is just such a cool idea!
  9. Railroads: (Simulation & strategy by Firaxis / Sid Meier – released 2006)
    Although it’s quite shallow compared to previous releases in the series by Sid Meier, I find this version more fun and eminnently more playable. It has a tendancy to crash to desktop when your routes start getting too complex which is frustrating, but assuming it was stable this is a sandbox game I could play with and tweak for ages!! (Hint: Play on hard settings for the best experience, where the trains cannot pass through each other)
  10. Lock-On, Modern Air Combat: (Flight Simulator by Eagle Dynamics – released 2003)
    A Sim I have barely scratched the surface of due to the near vertical learning curve and lack of time to “get into it” – all I need is solitary confinement on a desert island 😀
    A close call between this and Falcon 4.0, with it’s dynamic single player campaign, but I think the variety in aircraft in LOMAC wins out for long-term playability. The complexity is extreme – you have to know your chosen bird’s systems inside out, and remember all your controls off the back of your hand – just like a REAL fighter pilot. There’s no short-cuts here. Even lcoking on to an enemy target requires running through several steps (selecting the correct radar scan mode, arming the weapon, getting within the right range and approcah corridor for the selected weapon, and all this has to be done under time and survival pressure)

Runner Up:
Settlers 7, Paths to a Kingdom:
(Real Time Strategy & Simulation by Blue Byte)

I’m still in my honeymoon period with this game, so my views on this may change with time, but it’s a surprisingly deep simulation with a lot of scope for different ways to win. It’s actually bloody hard!! Old-skool hard!!! Which is a lot of it’s appeal. When you do win you know you must have done something right! I may get bored of it once I figure out the intricacies, hence my hesitation to put it into the top 10, but so far it’s been great and because it’s largely focussed around competitive online multiplayer it may have some good mileage left in it.

    So that is my list… I am sure I have forgotten some gems, so join in by commenting below and give me your top 10’s ! 🙂

    I will be doing other lists of top games with different criteria so keep and eye out for those soon.

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