Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Published October 5th 2012
There must be thousands of PC games that have been released over the years, far more than have ever been brought out for gaming consoles. One reason is that they had a bit of a head start, with the computer being introduced to homes before video consoles began to be made. Another reason is that there is a wider market. Not everyone is going to have an X-Box, or a Playstation, or a Nintendo in their homes, but it is a pretty safe bet that most will have a computer.
Despite there being a ton more games to choose from, PC games have generally held the least interest for me. There are a number of reasons for this. First is the compatibility. There are several types of operating systems for computers, and PC games are always designed to work with the most recent on the market. If you have the wrong operating system then the game simply won't work. In fact, even if you do have the minimum system requirements, they don't always work. I found that out far too frequently. I would buy a game that matched my computer specs, but when I try to install it, I inevitably got an error message or something saying the code that I needed to type in was incorrect.
The question of compatibility is even more of an issue for me now because I have a Mac. There are a few games made for Mac computers, but the majority are exclusive to Windows. This is particularly true of downloadable games. I would love to be able to play Star Trek: Online, but it is only available for Window users.
Using a keyboard is also much more difficult than using a controller pad. Half the time I can't remember which letters do what action, and usually the keys you need to press are juxtaposed in awkward positions, making it difficult to perform multiple actions (like running and jumping) at the same time.
Simon The Sorcerer
Still, even with these problems there have been a few games that have caught my attention over the years, the first being Simon The Sorcerer series. The first game came out in 1993 on floppy disk, and it parodies just about every fantasy story in popular literature: Narnia, Jack and The Beanstalk, Lord of The Rings, you name it. The humour can be a little adult at times, but it is fantastically entertaining especially when Simon breaks the forth-wall and talks to you.
The storyline is based around the character, Simon, a teenage boy who finds a magic book in his attic. The book sends him through a portal to another world, where he is given the (unwanted) mission of saving a wizard called Calypso from the evil sorcerer, Sordid. It is an adventure/puzzle game and avoids the problems I mentioned about the controls because it is a point and click game. You don't need fast reflexes, but you do need to be creative when figuring out the solutions to the puzzles you have to work out.
Simon The Sorcerer II
Simon The Sorcerer was so popular it was re-released several times for different computer systems, and followed up by many sequels. On Simon's second appearance, he arrives in the magical realm through a wardrobe, and to get home he must find 'mucusade', the wardrobe's power source. Other releases included a puzzle pack and pinball, which were great time wasters (I mean fillers) when bored.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, I became immersed in Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force. It was (and remains) the only First Person Shooter I have ever been interested in. There is no doubt in my mind that the only reason for this is because it was a Star Trek Game, but even if you are not a Star Trek fan, it is a good FPS in itself. When the crew find themselves trapped in a spaceship graveyard with dangerous enemies, you assume the role of Ensign Alexander Munro, a member of the Hazard Team. There are about thirty levels with eight missions each; they involve various tasks like boarding alien vessels, unlocking codes, and obviously shooting the hell out of everything.
The game was eventually released for the Playstation 2, and while the controls were easier to use, what was great about the PC version was the expansion pack. In the expansion pack, you got explore the Voyager ship, and complete various tasks for crewmembers. You could also visit the holodeck and take part in multi-player shoot-em-ups. Think paintball with phasers.
Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban
A game that probably has a wider appeal is Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban. Although the PC is my least favourite mode of gaming, the third Harry Potter game for the PC was my favourite in the series. The PC version differed significantly from the console versions of the game; instead of focussing on quests, Harry spent most of the game in class or taking exams. While initially this doesn't sound very interesting, I had a lot of fun taking Hagrid's Magical Beasts class, where you ride Buckbeak through a number of rings, collecting pick ups along the way. You could replay the level several times, trying to beat your previous best time.
Ultimately the best PC game of the bunch has to be The Sims. A life-simulation game that allows you to create characters and instruct them in their daily lives (for better or worse). The first in the series came out in 2000 and had seven expansion packs, including Vacation, Super Star, and Making Magic. A few years later The Sims 2 came out, and then The Sims 3. Each new evolution brought even better graphics and expanded the kind of activities the characters could do. I think I liked The Sims 3 best, simply because I love creating characters. I enjoyed that more than the actual gameplay, and the level of detail you could control about their appearance (right down to the eyebrows) was fantastic.
The only reason that I don't still have the game now is because of the compatibility issue I talked about. The Sims requires constant online updates in order to work. Half the time I tried to perform an update it wouldn't let me, and then when I did, I found it created certain bugs in the game. On several occasions characters from one of the large families I had created just disappeared. I got disheartened after spending so long building the family up, and decided just not to bother anymore. That's one of the advantages of the original Sims game. While the graphics are nowhere near as sophisticated, you didn't have to keep updating the game.
I expect The Sims is on a lot of favourite lists, but are there any other PC games you love?