2008 has seen some really incredible titles released for the personal computer. I would say that this has been one of the best years for PC gamers in quite some time actually. It seems that while developers know that console games have the most market saturation, the PC gaming market is far from dead. If you are someone who is looking for that perfect PC game or peripheral to buy a loved one or even put on your own Xmas list this year, look no further as we have compiled our top choices by genre/type. Enjoy!
Left 4 Dead by Valve Software – Valve really has a winner on their hands in Left 4 Dead. In plainest terms, it is a cooperative, first-person shooter set in the wake of a zombie apocalypse. These aren’t Romero zombies we are talking about here – these are Dawn of the Dead re-make zombies and the come at you in very large numbers. Left 4 Dead isn’t just about zombies though. In fact, because of the threat you and your three survivor buddies face, the game emphasizes teamwork above all else. One day, I would love to see company ‘retreats’ where their team-building exercises consist of Left 4 Dead rounds (I wanna work there!). Coupled with the fact that it is available via Valve’s Steam service, allowing it a built-in community, means you will not have to wait long to get game going. Aim for the head!
Runners-Up: Crysis: Warhead, Rainbow Six: Vegas 2, Call of Duty: World at War.
Fallout 3 by Bethesda Softworks – If you never got the chance to experience the original Fallout or its first sequel, you are really missing out as they are truly some of the best RPGs ever made. Thankfully, this tradition has been carried on by Bethsoft even when taking the game into the first-person from the previous title’s overhead, isometric view. In Fallout 3 you will wander around a post-apocalyptic Washington D.C. in a quest to find your father, who mysteriously disappeared from the vault you have been living in since you were born. It features an incredibly immersive world replete with tongue-in-cheek humor and 1950’s retro styling. The game will take you many hours to get through, and even then you will not be able to experience everything, forcing you to play through it again and again.
Runners-Up: Dead Space, Mass Effect, Far Cry 2.
Hit the full list up After the Jump!
EVE Online by CCP – The MMO with one of the toughest learning curves on the market is still one of the most fun, featuring a living, breathing economic model on a galactic scale. Upgrade components of your starship, take on missions, join up with player-run galactic corporations and more. The depth of this game is so staggering it can turn a new gamer away within the first forty-five minutes of play. Our advice: Stick with it and find a helpful player-run corporation, you will thank us. Oh, also watch for scammers as CCP takes a Laissez-faire approach to their in-game economy.
Runners-Up: World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King, Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning.
Spore: This species simulation had some serious hype surrounding it and, while unfortunate that it did not live up to all of it, what we did receive was a very creative life sim that allows you to take your small, multi-cellular beasties all the way from algae eating to space colonization. Suffering from a fair mid-point, the game’s first and last stages are more than worth the play-through. Plus, this is one of those family-friendly games that makes a great gift for the little ones you do not wish to see blowing away wastelanders with their Fat Man!
Runners-Up: T-34 vs Tiger.
Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3 by EA Montreal – While not the most advanced game when it comes to gameplay innovations or visuals, it is easily one of the most well-balanced RTS titles we have played in quite some time. This can lead to some very fun and highly-pitched battles between you and your friends (or enemies) in multi-player games. The single player campaign also stars the likes of Tim Curry, so get out there and defend Mother Russia for Dr. Frankenfurter!
Runners-Up: Combat Mission Shock Force: Marines, King’s Bounty: The Legend, Sins of a Solar Empire.
Out of the Park Baseball 9 by Out of the Park Developments – Unfortunately, aside from a racer or two, the PC market has not been very lucrative for sports gamers this year. Even though Out of the Park Baseball 9 is a baseball management game, it still tops our list as, well, nothing else was very notable. It features some of the most in-depth sports management ever seen in a PC game. Manage your players and team in both offline as well as online seasons against other players. Sorry sports fans, your future looks to be console-bound.
Runners-Up: Pro Evolution Soccer 2008, Need for Speed: Undercover (Even though it is not a sports game by concept, it does deal with street racing and that is as close as we could find to a runner-up).
Microsoft Sidewinder X5 Gaming Mouse: Microsoft released a bare bones version of their feature-packed Sidewinder gaming mouse this year dubbed the X5. While cutting-down on the extras, it still features extremely responsive handling as well as a unique design that feels far more comfortable than it looks at a discounted price point.
Runners-Up: Wolfing Trooper MVP, Cyber-Snipa Stinger.
Saitek Cyborg Keyboard: Saitek’s Cyborg is a large and very capable keyboard that, while looking like something out of a Tie Fighter’s cockpit, is sure to help your gaming performance. It features a multi-color, multi-region back lighting system as well as a touch-sensitive control panel and twelve macro keys. The keyboard is no slouch on construction either, featuring a very fine key-action and gold-plated USB connectors.
Runners-Up: SteelSeries 7G, Microsoft Sidewinder X6.
Creative’s HS-1200 Digital Wireless Headset: When we first looked at Creative’s wireless gaming headset we were skeptical at best. Usually, wireless headsets that cost less than a couple hundred dollars are lackluster. What we found, however, was that the HS-1200s featured incredible sound quality and a generally comfortable fit that made gaming (or just listening to music while relaxing) a joy. Plus, the boom microphone’s muting system makes it very easy to tell when your broadcasting, minimizing the risk of accidental outbursts to your friends playing with you.
Runners-Up: SteelSeries 5H V2 USB, Creative’s HS-1000 Gaming Headset.