I'll try to meet the new standards this thread has set, and explain my choices. I've also had more time to think about awesome games, and I realized I forget a few. My top 10 now contains 12 items. Sue me.
Actually it's 12 game series, not 12 games. Sue me again.
Still in no particular order- Warcraft II & III
All of the warcraft games are awesome. They really brought the RTS genre to a higher level. Warcraft I is often forgotten, but it was an excellent game for its time. Warcraft II really lifted the genre to a new level. It's storyline was awesome, with missions that really dragged you into the story. It was finely balanced and the gameplay was excellent. Multiplayer was good too, well, as good as can be expected with 28k8 dialup
And Warcraft III just took the cake, with an awesome story, very good multiplayer, very different but well-balanced races, etc, etc.
Well, it's a blizzard series. We all know what that means. Polished. With lots of humour, lots of content, etc, etc. I remember buying both the expansions to Warcraft II and the original Command and Conquer (which were released at about the same time and were competitors). The latter gave you 15 new missions without any storyline to them, just maps, and not much else. The Warcraft II expansion gave an entirely new storyline with about 30 missinos total, new units, new hero units, lots of multiplayer content (like 50 maps or so). It just doesn't compare.
While Warcraft III is on many lists in this series, Warcraft II remains my personal favorite. It was just so damned good, and lightyears ahead of the competition.- Starcraft I & II
More Blizzard RTS. I'm not sure if this one should actually be a separate item. Warcraft and starcraft have always been kind of the same series, just with a different storyline. Everything I said about Warcraft translates directly to starcraft. Awesome games, great storyline, great gameplay, great balance, great multiplayer. Lightyears ahead of every competitor in every aspect of the game.- Civilization I, II and IV
My most played game series of all time. The amount of hours I spent on these games is staggering. The feeling of progress, of building an empire, it is just fantastic. Starting with only one measly settler in the year 4000 BC, and expanding to a world-spanning civilization 6000 years later, is just epic. You start with researching writing, the alphabet, mathematics, even roads and the wheel. But by the end you have superconductors and fusion power. It really is about civilization. Diplomacy, trade, war, they are all in the game. And right from the first installment, you could win in different ways. Conquer the world, of course, but also by being the first to send a spaceship to another another solar system.
Not everybody likes turn-based game. I've always enjoyed the leisurely pace though. You really have time to think about what you do, and if you grow bored you can go for a coffee. The depth of strategies in these games is awesome. Even in civilization I, which is nearly 20 years old by now.
The game is even educational. I learned a lot about history from this game. But from (real world historic) information in the game itself, and from reading on internet about things referenced in the game. Some of the knowledge may have been a bit weird. I remember - I was perhaps 10 years old back then - talking with my nephew about the disadvantages of using nuclear weapons on enemy cities. That scared my mother somewhat
As with most of the games on this list, this game spawned a genre. Many strategy games have tried to be as good as civilization. None have succeeded.
There is actually a third installment in this series. It is a cold and scary place, where good gaming concepts go to die. Part I defined the genre, part II improved on it in every way possible. And part III was just terrible. They somehow managed to break nearly everything that made the game good. Something about the rights being sold and the game being developped by a different team. Terrible terrible. All the more amazing that they managed to recover. Civilization 4 (by the original designed again) is epic in every way, and arguably the best civ ever. Everything comes together brilliantly in this game, with a lot of new concepts that fit in smoothy.- Heroes of Might and Magic III
Another turn-based game. And, simply put, the only one that can measure up to civilization. If you have never player either of these games, you have never played turn-based games.
This is more of a role-playing game. You play a hero in a magical world, and you slowly conquer more and more of the world as you expand in both migh and magic. The game has 8 different fractions with hundreds of different (mythological) creatures between them. Lowly peasants or imps, but also dragons, titans and archangels on the high-end. It borrows richly from pretty much every mythology out there.
The game is huge. It has a campaign, but its power lies in the dozens of different maps. Each is basically a storyline in itself, and will take a great many hours to complete. Dozens, in some cases. With great replay value too. The gameplay is deep, and fun too, the graphics were very good (for that time) and there's so much content you'll never get bored.
I suppose there also exists a Heroes of Might and Magic I and II. I never played them, so I can't comment on them. Part IV is rather disappointing, almost awful. Part V is very good again, but it does not reach its former glory. Still worth to pick up though.- Half-Life I & II
I'll be brief about this one because many already wrote about these games. They redefined the shooter genre. The storyline was epic and revolutionary. The gameplay fun and had endless replay-value. In fact I recently replayed the original half-life and loved every minute of it. This game has so many strong points. Many of them we perhaps consider normal by now. But having a continues world instead of just random maps was new, having a story at all was in fact rather new. The enemies in the game were awesome, and it really felt like they were out to get you. Soldiers talking to eachother over the radio, trying to surround you. Hearing brief snipets of you being called a terrorist and needing to be neutralized... Everything was just so well done.
And part II did not disappointed. It did was a successor has to do: Improve on every aspect of the game without making things worse. They succeeded.- Tie-Fighter
The best flight simulator ever. Ever. No contest. Not even close. This game is old, ancient even. But I'd still play it over pretty much every other similar game. On the surface it's simple space fighter. You fly your spaceship around, using your joystick. You shoot enemies, occasianally rescue people, in a few dozens missions until you win the game. But everything in this game is just perfect.
As the title suggest, you're evil in this game. You serve the empire, fighting the rebel alliance. And they got the atmosphere just right. The progress of the storyline is excellent. You start with unimportant border patrols, but as the game progresses you get promoted to more and more important missions. Many missions have bonus objectives, which you can do for more score and prestige, and many have secret bonus objectives, that you have to find out for yourself by trial-and-error. So it pays to pay attention.
Best of all of this game is the level of control you have. I remember marvelling that this game uses every key on your keyboard. In fact it uses almost all of them twice, and many 4 times (normally, with shift, alt or ctrl). The list of keyboard shortcuts is endless, you can target the nearest enemy, the nearest one attacking you, the nearest one attacking your current target, the nearest one attacking your primary mission target, etc, etc. You can give dozens of different commands to your wingman. It's just awesome.
And all this in 1994!- Diablo I & II
Some people look down on these games because it's not a true RPG. Well, doh, it isn't. This is RPG meets shooter. Yes you gain levels, develop your character, grow stronger and gain better items and weapons, better spells, etc, etc. But all this you do while wading through endless fields on monsters. They die by the dozens, by the hundreds, and just keep coming. What did you expect, when you're in hell trying to kill the prime evil? The focus is definitely on the action. But it does so excellently.
Are the graphics good? Is the storyline great? is the atmosphere epic? Is the gameplay awesome? Is the amount of content huge? All those questions I can answer simply by saying: It is a blizzard game. So of course: yes, yes, yes, yes and yes!And the evil that was once vanquished shall rise anew. Wrapped in the
guise of man shall he walk amongst the innocent, and terror shall consume
they that dwell upon the earth. The skies shall rain fire, the seas will
become as blood, the righteous shall fall before the wicked, and all creation
shall tremble before the burning standards of Hell!
Enough epic to make a brave man weep.- World of Warcraft
I'm not going to say much about this game. If you don't know WoW, you are not from earth. I will only say this about it: It's too good. Too addicting. I know several people who have flunked their studies because of this game. Damn.- Doom I & II
Another game I don't need to say much about. So I won't.- Dungeon Keeper
I remembered this game when mister k mentioned it a few posts up, and yeah, it should be on this list. One of the funniest RPG games ever. You are evil in this game, but gleefully so. The ironic voice commentary about how idyllic the place you are going to attack is, and how, afterwards, you improved the place now that everything is burning, is just awesome. The game contains some very novel concepts too. You can go into the skin of a single minion for example, and play from his point of view for a while. The gameplay is just generally good, novel, and well-though-out. A bit too short perhaps.- Transport Tycoon Deluxe
I don't think this one has been mentioned in this thread yet. But it's an truly awesome game. It's a tycoon game. You start out controlling a small transport company somewhere in the 1930s or so. You're on a huge maps with industry and villages all over, and you can start building transport lines. Mostly train, though you can dabble in air, sea and road as well. So you start building trains to transport passengers, or coal to a power station, or steel to a factory, things like that. You slowly build up your empire, add more and more lines, more and more trains. Around you the country develops, time progresses, cities grow bigger, new industry appears. You get newer, faster trains too, of course. The game ends somewhere in 2050 with maglev trains that go 600 kph. Awesome.
The game had AI competitors, but they were quite dumb and most people just turned them off. The fun of this game was building huge, huge, super-huge railroad networks with dozens of trains going everywhere. And doing this efficiently without everything clogging down to a standstill. Designing epic railroad junctions where 8 different lines meet, and cross, and branch off, and doing this efficiently is just great fun.
The game is easy. But again that does not matter, because the fun in this game is not winning, but in building efficient railroad networks, and improving them just a tiny bit every time.
There's actually an open-source remake of this game that is very much like the original. But it fixes some bugs, supports much bigger maps and networks, improves control a lot when building things, adds some nice options, and support multiplayer and stuff like that. Check it out sometime! - Baldur's Gate I and II
When you say the word 'rpg' in the context of computer games, you should be thinking of this game. There had been dozens of games that called themselves RPGs before this one, of course. But this one is really the first one that deserves the title. And every single good rpg since, has borrowed heavily on this game.
The storyline is awesome. Character development is really central to this game, both in the story and in what you can do with your character. And you're not alone, you make friends and enemies that feel real. This is really a game you can immerse yourself in. And it's HUGE. Especially part II, which takes like 50 hours to finish.
The game has excellent dialogues and a lot of humor. I particularly remember one epic moment in the first game. I was walking around in the world, and assasins were trying to kill me, people were betraying me or trying to use me, and random people were insulting me or being generally unnice. Even though I was playing a good character and I was always nice and helpful to others. So, yeah, I was a bit irritated. And just then I walk into another group of adventurers, stuck up nobles, who promptly started insulting me as well. And then the game offered me the dialogue option: "I'm tired of being insulted by every pompous idiot I meet. Draw steel, Bitch".
The game was reading my mind! Wow! It took me quite a while to stop laughing. Then I clicked that option and it turned out to be a horribly difficult fight, but I won. Good times. Good times.
So, ehm, yeah, that's my list. I hope somebody actually reads it, and likes it