It’s easy to overlook Counter-Strike today. The landscape is bullet-riddled with team-based, high-budget war simulators. Battlefield and Modern Warfare get all the attention, but those games are for n00bs. Counter-Strike is for l337 h4×0rs. Anyone can hop into one of the yearly triple-A shooters, run off as a lone gun and score some kills. They’re mindless. Not only will you die instantly if you try that in CS, you won’t have fun. Counter-Strike isn’t built for the shoot/die/respawn/repeat mindset. It takes skill and team work to win, like a sport. N00bs spend a lot of time watching games from the grave. If you’re willing to stick with it long enough to learn what you’re doing, it’s very rewarding. No other multiplayer game quite captures the feeling of being the last surviving member of your team and taking out the final opponent in de_dust.
Mass Effect 2
It’s not easy creating a sequel to a game that received near perfect reviews across the board, but Mass Effect 2 not only lived up to its predecessor, it eclipsed it. It even allowed you to bring over the Commander Shepard you created in the first game. The Shepard that made you proud. The one that sometimes punched a deserving news reporter in the face. Or, if you messed up so badly that you’d rather pretend he never existed, it allowed you to hand craft a new Shepard with trillion dollar plastic surgery. How they can practically rebuild a man from scratch but not fix Joker’s limp is still a mystery.
Age of Empires II
Chances are that when you started Age of Empires 2, you had no idea what your opening strategy should be. Should all those villagers only be gathering lumber? You probably shouldn’t have just one villager on farming duties. Oh, look! Progress! Someone entered a new age! Oh wait. It’s not you. Bummer. It had a bit of a learning curve, but once you got in the swing of things, Age of Empires 2 was one of the greatest RTS games of all time. Just keep in mind that while your villagers can magically go from farmer to construction worker, they can’t eat stone. Not that you have any stone anyway. Or gold for that matter. Really, did you remember to do anything other than chop down trees?!
The bloody grandpappy of the FPS, Doom wasn’t just an addictive game, it’s what taught us games could be so addictive in the first place. Sure, the plot wasn’t any more complex than what could be crammed on a single page of a 4″ x 4″ instruction manual, but its immersive Mars base corridors, its imaginative demonic imagery (we still have nightmares about cacodemons), and let’s face it, its then-unprecedented ability to blow the crap out of virtual people blew the Capri Sun from our preteen mouths, and convinced our parents we’d all grow up deeply disturbed individuals. What more can you ask for from a game?
World of Warcraft
There are two categories of MMORPG: 1) World of WarCraft and 2) All the Other Ones. Usually it’s hard to make an objective statement in a medium dominated by opinion and preference, but in this instance, the numbers speak for themselves. Every month, over 10 million people shell out roughly 15 bucks to immerse themselves in the expansive world of Azeroth. Can you think of something, other than eating and sleeping, that 10 million people across the world can universally enjoy? I tried to, but then I remembered I was late for my raid on Dragon Soul.