With what’s been a successful year for PC gaming — at least in my eyes — coming to an end, it’s time for Ironhammer to reveal what we deem to be the very best PC games of the year. It may even be the most important top 5 of the year ever, as if the prophecies of 2012 show themselves to be true, this could be the last one ever. Although, I’d much appreciate it, personally, if any cataclysmic events could hold off for a while. At least until Blizzard have released all three parts of the StarCraft II campaign.
That aside, here are our picks for the year:
5. Shogun 2: Total War (Creative Assembly)
Generally, us strategy fans know that so long as a game has Total War written on the box, it’s going to be a good one. However, many were unsure about Empire and Napoleon when they released — still great games, but they felt lacking in some areas. Then, this year, we get Shogun 2: Total War. Returning to the Japanese setting that made my favourite Total War game, while also bringing back a few things that’d been removed from the series over the years. Add to that some computer-crunching visuals across the vast landscapes and immense battles, and Creative Assembly show us that they’ve still got what it takes to please us PC gamers.
4. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (CD Projekt)
The original Witcher title gained a loyal following, be it not a massive one. There were a few things the left it being a very niche product. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, however, put most things right and delivered an amazing game, an amazing story and, ultimately, made amazing use of our computer’s naughty bits. The game launched to such a great reception, that not only did it score 5/5 in our review, but CD Projekt also decided to widen their audience — setting about the preparation of an Xbox 360 version.
3. Frozen Synapse (Mode 7 Games)
From a huge use of our PC’s hardware, to something much more on the simple side graphically. When I previewed an early build back in June of 2010, I was immediately impressed by what Mode 7 had. If they’d launched then and there, they’d have released a very solid game. However, they chose to keep working on it. By the time the amazing soundtrack, finer details and game balance were finished in May 2011, Frozen Synapse launched, and I was even more staggered by what the few chaps at Mode 7 had achieved.
2. Orcs Must Die! (Robot Entertainment)
For those who are yet to play Robot Entertainment’s Orcs Must Die!, this may look like a strange choice for our second best game of the year. But for those who’ve purchased it, they’ll completely understand. Not only is it the kind of gameplay with enough variation that you can go back and play it a thousand times, but it’s also the kind that’s enough of the same every time to produce a noticeable score improvement each time. That’s without mentioning how beautifully the PC version runs, and appears, for that matter. From the scoreboard layout and mouse control, to the comic-like headshot markers that appear, this game just feels perfect. As our 5/5 review score might suggest.
1. Portal 2 (Valve)
Valve, Valve, Valve… how do you do it? Not only do you steal our hearts with your Steam sales, but also with every game you ever release. Portal 2 is just simply another one of those must play games. The inadvertent story-telling brings us a compelling campaign mode, one of the best ever, for sure. Then there’s the co-operative stuff. Also some of the best and most well thought-out multiplayer experiences I’ve ever had (a title previously held by Valve’s Left 4 Dead 2). Then there was the best implementation of cross-platform gaming I’ve seen yet, allowing players on PC and PS3 to play together with no difficulty whatsoever. Every aspect shines. Thanks, Valve — and if you’re reading — can you work it so I can give DotA 2 this same title next year? That’d make me happy…