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12/15/2020

Top 102 PC Games, #70-61

70. Simcity 3000 Unlimited (Maxis, 1999/2000)

Simcity 3000 had a lot to live up to after the groundbreaking original and the fantastic 2000, and I was a little worried since it was the first game in the series that Will Wright didn't work on.  However, 3000 did the name justice.  The game is pretty much what you'd expect, taking the groundwork of 2000, putting it in 3D and adding in a few more features like having to manage your city's garbage and sound alerts when disasters strike. One can also make business deals with other cities to address power/water/garbage storage issues, or take on other cities' problems for some extra cash at the cost of an increased burden to their own resources.  Unlimited added some new content of its own, letting you place numerous real-life landmarks like the Empire State Building, the CN Tower and Notre Dame's cathedral.  Better still, an easy-to-use editor lets you customize the appearance of your buildings or even craft custom ones, letting you build some truly massive and beautiful-looking cities.  The only real downsides were a significantly clunkier UI and the fact that this is the last great Simcity game.

69. Satisfactory (Coffee Stain Studios, 2020)

Coffee Stain Studios brings us a resource-farming experience, though the twist this time is that you build your own factory to automate the process of constructing whatever your bosses want as much as you can.  Conveyor belts, splitters, power plants, smelters, refineries, constructors, and whatever else you need can be automated, and given how time-consuming it is to build things by hand (if it's even possible - many later items aren't), you'll be rushing to do so.  You also get to build vehicles to travel in search of resources and weapons to defend yourself from hostile fauna, and online co-op means it's a challenge you can tackle with friends.  Satisfactory definitely lives up to its name.

68. Day of the Tentacle (Lucasarts, 1993)

The sequel to Maniac Mansion and Tim Schafer's first game as project lead, Day of the Tentacle was another hilarious and well-made point and click adventure from LucasArts.  Starring Bernard and two of his college roommates as they attempt to foil the Purple Tentacle's scheme for world conquest, the setup is quite a clever one - each of the three characters is trapped in a different time period, able to pass objects between one another but otherwise unable to directly interact, and changing things in the past will affect things in the future, opening paths for puzzles to be solved. This, plus the sharp writing, acting and animation, make for a truly fun and creative adventure. Though it sadly lacks the multiple paths and endings of the original game, Day of the Tentacle is nonetheless a worthy sequel to a classic. 

67. Sid Meier's Civilization IV (Firaxis Games, 2005)

Sid Meier's iconic Civilization series has always been a popular one, and many fans consider IV to be the height of the series.  It isn't hard to see why, either, as it takes everything great about its predecessors and improves it tenfold, even supporting player customization and a number of high-quality expansions (including a full remake of Sid Meier's Colonization).  Still, the core element remains much the same - build cities and armies, research new technologies, build world wonders, and reach one of the win conditions before your opponents do.  But as the old saying goes: Don't fix what ain't broken!  Plus, it has Leonard Nimoy doing the narration; you can't argue with that kind of awesome.

66. Diablo (Blizzard Entertainment, 1996)

Warcraft and Lost Vikings were fairly popular games in their time, but Diablo is the game that really put Blizzard on the map.  Taking the concept of games like Rogue, adding an action bent and dousing the whole thing in a heavy grim atmosphere, it definitely awed people at a glance. It only became more immersive thanks to its fantastic soundtrack and a surprisingly good story with some high quality voice over, and the fact that you got a random shuffle of quests, items and spells each time you played lent it quite  a bit of replay value. It had an official (though non-canon) expansion in Hellfire as well, adding in several new quests and three new playable classes (though you do have to do some file-editing to make them all accessible). While largely overshadowed by its sequel these days, Diablo is still a very worthy game that is not to be missed. 

65. Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition (Ensemble Studios/Forgotten Empires, 2019)

A real time strategy game with a historical bent, having the player gather resources, build a kingdom and advance it through four "ages", gaining access to new units and military technology as they go.  As in games like Civilization, one can win by simply wiping out all the other armies, but alternate win conditions exist as well - keeping a Wonder standing for a set amount of time, or controlling all relics on the map for a set period will also win the game. The campaign is also one for history buffs, recreating several famous historical campaigns. The Definitive Edition adds another campaign and four new civilizations, as well as upgrading the engine to support HD resolutions and massively improving the computer AI (no longer having to cheat to provide a challenge to the player). 

64. Minecraft (Markus Persson/Mojang, 2011+)

I don't think any "top games" list, PC or otherwise, can go without at least mentioning Minecraft; after all, it is far and away the best-selling video game of all time as of this writing and has spawned too many imitators, alternate versions, spinoffs and player mods to even count.  Essentially a procedurally-generated sandbox game where you battle monsters, collect resources, find food and water to survive, and build... well, whatever you want to build.  Towns, skyscrapers, castles, giant pieces of art, Beetlejuice-themed rollercoasters, you name it, it's probably been done (and if not, soon will be).  Those with a more goal-oriented mindset can also opt to collect enough resources to enter "The End" and slay the Ender Dragon, winning the game in a more traditional way, and there are no shortage of mods that change up the setting or make huge alterations to the core gameplay.  It's a game that has a little something for everybody, which probably accounts for its ridiculous popularity.

63. Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition (Black Isle/BeamDog, 2014)

Icewind Dale is Baldur's Gate's more combat-oriented cousin, though that didn't stop Black Isle from including some well-written dialog and story beats throughout.  Enhanced Edition takes the base game and tunes up the engine quite a bit, giving it HD resolutions and a lot of the improvements introduced, including a much wider variety of playable classes to utilize (all the ones from the Baldur's Gate remasters).  They've even updated it to include support for cross-play, letting people with any version of the game join in games and play it.  A solid co-op strategy RPG experience and a great remaster to boot.

62. Alvora Tactics / Voidspire Tactics (Rad Codex, 2015/2017)

Rad Codex is a name I've grown to love in the short while I've known of them, mostly because they're one of the few indie devs I've seen that finally gets what made classic CRPGs like Fallout, Ultima and Might and Magic great.  They afford the player a deep combat and character-customizing experience and great amount of freedom to explore the world and forge their own path while not getting bogged down in flowery overwrought dialog, a story that tries to overstep its bounds into the realm of pretense or tedious busywork; you just get to roam and enjoy yourself while facing whatever challenge comes your way, taking everything at your own pace, and every fight you get into feels like there's really something at stake and it's not just boring filler.  (It also helps that the combat is heavily modeled on Final Fantasy Tactics, another of my favorites).  Quality over quantity, playing to your strengths and not getting full of yourself even when you make something genuinely good; more CRPG devs need to take lessons from Rad Codex.

61. Horizon's Gate (Rad Codex, 2020)

A game that has been described by many as "Final Fantasy Tactics by way of Uncharted Waters", and upon playing it, I can certainly confirm that is indeed the case.  You build a character, take part in turn-based battles both on foot and by sea, unlock new classes as the game progresses, and can basically explore, trade or become a privateer at your leisure, taking part in ship battles or legitimate business to earn loot for later upgrades.  Inventory management and item manipulation is simple as can be too, using a keyboard-and-mouse interface that reminds me more than a bit of the classic Ultimas.  It's certainly not the deepest example of anything it attempts to be, but it is a lot of fun, and really, that's what I come to a game for anyway.  Sacrilege, I know.