Two 96s and a con­tro­ver­sial 94.


Phil: Do we tackle Dragon Age II now, or should we try to bury it two-thirds of the way through the spread where peo­ple might not no­tice?

Pip: Well, the other op­tion is to en­tirely del­e­gate it to They’re Back where not only is it cel­e­brated, but its 94 has been trans­formed into a 96. Hope­fully that will ab­sorb so much flak we can say what we like here. It’s ba­si­cally an im­mu­nity po­tion in ar­ti­cle form!

Phil: In that case, reader, I in­vite you to di­rect your anger at Chris. Also, though, I do like Dragon Age II. Yes, it is bad that 75% of it is set in ei­ther Kirk­wall’s only ware­house or a cave, but it does of­fer some of the best friend­ships in any BioWare game, which is re­ally say­ing some­thing. The struc­ture means your re­la­tion­ships evolve over the course of years, and that means you re­ally get to know your com­pan­ions in a way that makes their ac­tions mean­ing­ful. All that said, though, it is not the best, most im­por­tant game of the years 2008 to 2012.

I could, how­ever, see an ar­gu­ment for Dragon Age: Ori­gins.

It sits in a very in­ter­est­ing space – still clearly in­flu­enced by In­fin­ity En­gine games like Bal­dur’s Gate or Icewind Dale, but also carv­ing out its own path as a mod­ern 3D RPG. I think, qui­etly, it was pretty in­flu­en­tial. It opened up the genre to a new au­di­ence, some­thing

The Witcher 2 suc­cess­fully cap­i­talised on just a few years later.

Andy: I thought Dragon Age II was ut­ter rub­bish. Sorry.

Phil: That is not an un­rea­son­able po­si­tion to take.

Samuel: Andy is not cor­rect, but

Dragon Age II is not the best game on this list, as much as I love hang­ing with Var­ric in the Hanged Man.

Skyrim is now part of the fur­ni­ture, we’ve talked about it so many times. But it’d get my vote here. Deus Ex was prob­a­bly a bit over­scored. I re­vis­ited it a few years ago, and it is a pared down ver­sion of what the orig­i­nal game was go­ing for. Mankind Di­vided is a bet­ter ver­sion of that.

Minecraft is prob­a­bly the most im­por­tant game on here – but I’ve never played it be­cause I haven’t been 12 for 18 years. Dragon Age: Ori­gins felt like the last great meat-and-pota­toes clas­sic RPG, and it’s close to the top for me. I wish BioWare would make another game like it. I think what this era rep­re­sents was the re­birth of PC gam­ing – and these are some of the games that gave it life again.

Andy: Minecraft is prob­a­bly the most im­por­tant game here, at least in terms of cul­tural im­pact. But is it as good as Por­tal 2? Is it heck. Por­tal 2 is as close as I’ve seen to a per­fectly formed game. Ev­ery as­pect – puz­zles, pac­ing, story, mu­sic, voice act­ing – is of a qual­ity rarely seen in games. I love how it slowly in­creases the com­plex­ity of the puz­zles by in­tro­duc­ing new el­e­ments, like that won­der­ful, bouncy goo. I love see­ing the Aper­ture fa­cil­ity change over the years, from the ugly pat­terned car­pets of the ’70s to the gleam­ing white of the present day. I love J.K. Sim­mons, like, just in gen­eral. And the story, de­spite be­ing largely played for laughs, has a touch of dark­ness, too. It didn’t spawn many imi­ta­tors, mainly be­cause it’s just so damn hard to copy some­thing this clever, but for me it has to be one of the ten best games ever made.

Pip: I think I’m in the same boat as Andy here. Minecraft has the clout when it comes to cul­tural im­pact, but I have no per­sonal fond­ness for it. My re­cent re­turn to check out an up­date also in­volved so much Mi­crosoft Store non­sense that I might even be start­ing to ac­tively sour to­wards the game. But when it comes to Por­tal 2 my eyes light up and I start look­ing at nearby folk to as­sess them for their puz­zle-solv­ing co-op po­ten­tial. Por­tal 2 is just such a beau­ti­fully ex­e­cuted thing. I will say that Andy seems to have lucked out in say­ing it didn’t spawn many imi­ta­tors, though. As some­one who has had to pick through more than a hand­ful of “it’s like the Por­tal games but…” projects I can hon­estly say that Valve did some­thing spec­tac­u­lar to make Por­tal 2 so good.

Tom: Wan­der­ing down the moun­tain from the in­tro dun­geon in Skyrim still feels like magic to me. At the time the con­sen­sus seemed to be that big sin­gle­player RPGs don’t re­ally sell, and wow did Skyrim prove that wrong. Skyrim paved the way for big-bud­get RPGs like The Witcher 3

and gave the genre a boost at a vi­tal time. It re­ally is out­stand­ing in its own right.

In terms of va­ri­ety and at­mos­phere Skyrim has one of the best open world maps. Each area is dis­tinct, but not too out­landish. It feels huge, thanks to those tow­er­ing moun­tains, but it’s small enough for you to re­tain a sense of where you are. Sure, the story is generic and the dragons are a bit rub­bish, but there are so many sid­e­quests to stum­ble into.

Skyrim gives me a sense of ad­ven­ture that few games man­age, and the mod­ding scene is just in­cred­i­ble.

Andy: I adore Skyrim’s

world, but the quest de­sign and writ­ing is pretty bad in places. When­ever I re­turn to it, it’s to go for a wan­der and ex­pe­ri­ence that in­cred­i­ble set­ting, not to re­play quests. I agree about the sense of ad­ven­ture, though. Bump­ing into weirdos while trav­el­ling be­tween cities and get­ting tan­gled up in their lives is a great feel­ing. I just wish the quests them­selves in­volved more than just go­ing to a place, killing a guy, and bring­ing some­thing back, or div­ing into dun­geons made from the same lim­ited se­lec­tion of build­ing blocks. That’s why, in my head, I never think of Skyrim as a great RPG. It’s more like an okay RPG that hap­pens to be set in a re­ally evoca­tive, var­ied world.

Pip: Is this a good time to bring up

League of Leg­ends?

Phil: For a minute there I thought we’d get through a spread with­out you go­ing off-list. This one seems to be a clear choice be­tween Skyrim and Por­tal 2. I agree that Skyrim’s open world is amaz­ing – it’s a rich space, packed full of stuff to find and do, even out­side of the slightly rub­bish main story. Por­tal 2 prob­a­bly isn’t as notable, but I re­ally love

Pip: I’m one list fea­ture away from go­ing door to door ask­ing peo­ple if they’ve heard the good word about MOBAs to which we didn’t give 90+. I’ve cot­toned on to your trick though. I just have to keep talk­ing long enough to get the fi­nal word and then I get to pick the win­ning game.

Por­tal 2 Por­tal 2 Por­tal 2 Por­tal 2 blah blah blah opin­ions about things. Hot takes, cold takes, Por­tal 2.


ABOVE: The era when Cre­ative Assem­bly put To­talWar at the end of the name.TOP RI GHT : Dragon Age:Ori­gins is an odd mix of old and new.AB OVE RI GHT : The re­turn of DeusEx was cause for much cel­e­bra­tion from the PCG team of old.

BOTT OM: Spelunky is still one of the best plat­form­ers around.

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