What?! You haven't played these classics?
Joseph Rody
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I've been playing video games since DOS was "THE" operating system. My remaining brain cells have been permanently scarred with the info needed to configure my sound card and still retain enough base memory to run the program.

In my time, I have scratched and sniffed some great games along with some attempts at software coding that are best described as defacation. Some games I missed during those formulative years and later on revisited just to find out how great they were.

Here is a list that is by no means the definitive list but it sure is a good beginning. Where were you when these came out? If you weren't behind a keyboard, you missed out.
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1. Video Game: Starflight [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:830]
Joseph Rody
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This is the grandfather of all Space Operas. It was the Twilight Imperium of its time. The game was addictive. The plot was compelling.

There is no set path, allowing players to switch freely between mining, ship-to-ship combat, and alien diplomacy. Starflight has well over a hundred stars and several hundred planets. Each planet has it's own unique characteristics and you are capable of interacting with it.

Space is populated with a handful of spacefaring races, androids, probes, strange singing beings called Minstrels, and a number of random encounters.

Words cannot accurately describe this game. I know that is an overused and cliched expression but it got its start with this game.

Play it, love it...live it!
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2. Video Game: System Shock 2 [Average Rating:8.53 Overall Rank:28]
Joseph Rody
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What a game! I missed this one the first time around and played it years after its initial release. By then, it could be considered "old school". Well... I learned that they teach some things in old school that new school hasn't been taught.

The game takes place on board a starship in a cyberpunk depiction of 2114. The player assumes the role of a lone soldier trying to stem the outbreak of a genetic infection that has devastated the ship. Like System Shock (the original), gameplay consists of first person shooting and exploration. The game also incorporates role-playing system elements, where the player can develop unique skills and traits, such as hacking and psionic abilities.

This game won numerous awards and I am not surprised. It is full of atmosphere and many "experts" stated this game was well ahead of its time. This is one time when "they" knew what they were talking about. You can feel the tension, you can hear the foot steps behind you...and the graphics, while primitive by todays standards, set a tone similar to the "Alien" movie series. Very edgy.

This game influenced another great game in thought, concept and style...Bioshock. Imitation is the sincerist form of flattery.



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3. Video Game: Quake III: Arena [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:347]
Joseph Rody
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Jeeeeeeeeezuz... I got fragged again.

This was the first fluid, multi-dimensional shooter that we were able to network and have multiple friends turning each other into puffs of red mist.

In Quake III Arena the player progresses through tiers of maps, combating different bot characters that increase in difficulty, from Crash (at Tier 0) to Xaero (at Tier 7). As well as tougher opponents the fights take place in more complex arenas as the game progresses.

You could also add in Quake: Team Arena and form teams to fight what amounted to paintball with futuristic weapons. every enemy had their own characteristics. Each level had it's own flavor. The best part was that you needed more than good relexes to win. Brains and tactics counted for something.

Very cool game that brough my friends and I closer together only just to tear us apart in combat.
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4. Video Game: Starship Troopers: Terran Ascendancy [Average Rating:7.75 Unranked]
Joseph Rody
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First... I enjoyed the movie. Some "purists" don't like the movie because it was not a recreation of the book. I enjoyed the book but the movie has a hidden cleverness that unmasked the political and social undertones of the times.

If you didn't enjoy the movie, you will not enjoy this game. This game takes up right where the movie left off and is very, very faithful to the film. You get to play a starship trooper and explore the galaxy as a grunt soldier.

You work your way through the game gainign promotionws and upgrades to your equipment. Your squad plays in career mode and keep their abilities and stats throughout the game...being promoted right along with you.

For me, the cool part of playing was the ability to see many of the other worlds I did not see in the film. Frozen ice balls and hot desert planets are common but you get to visit a resort planet as well. I hope you don't mind the cockroaches.

Some people will tell you this is not a good game but they didn't like the film. If you have seen the film more than once (I have seen it a dozen times or more), then you will find beauty in this game.
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5. Video Game: Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe [Average Rating:7.74 Overall Rank:564]
Joseph Rody
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Do you remember the original ROLLERBALL movie? The basic premise being that the future was so brutal that brutal sports were big on the entertainment hit list.

This game was made in 1991 and it captivated me. The original was good but this added more dimensions to the game. Part football, part hockey, part deathmatch and just plain fun.

I enjoyed it for hours on end. Yeah... I know life is meant for the living but I am a computer vegetable hooked on this game.
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6. Video Game: Magic: The Gathering (MicroProse) [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:954] [Average Rating:6.92 Unranked]
Joseph Rody
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Alright... I confess. I like CCG's. I never was a good player but I like to collect them. One of the few I did actually play was Magic.

I know it's fashionable to bash Magic as a money pit populated by anti-social, hormone-raging, ego monsters ...and there may be some truth to that statement.

However, this game allowed me to escape the unpleasant aspects of the Magic CCG environment such as sinking wads of money into what amounted to be a lottery pick hoping to pick up the needed cards for my deck.

My only wish was that they would have continually upgraded this game and it's game engine every time a new expansion came out. Instead, they discontinued it and put it online. Now they can charge you out the anal opening to purchase "virtual" cards that you cannot hold in your hand.

Well...at least I am not wasting my money on cardboard anymore.
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7. Video Game: Duke Nukem 3D [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:443]
Joseph Rody
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GAWD... this is THE shooter.

We used to play this via network and have great fun blasting each other into small, bite sized "Duke Bits".

Dark humor, cool levels, plenty of mods (fan based and otherwise)... this game had it all. Sure...technology has made bigger and better games but I never had as much fun as I did with this one.
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8. Video Game: BioShock [Average Rating:8.04 Overall Rank:57]
Joseph Rody
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I didn't think I was going to like it. I was desperate for a game fix and there it was on the shelf. Like a drug addict jonesing for a fix, I scarfed it up muttering to myself about how I'll regret this.

What I found was System Shock 2 reborn.

This game is full of atmosphere, adventure, great graphics and a plot that suspends my disbelief. Everything that I loved about System shock had been used to even a better standard. If only this thing could have been a Sci-Fi Space Opera and I would never have left the computer. They would find my stinking, rotting corpse with fingers still holding the cookie crumb encrusted keyboard.

Set in an alternate history 1960, the game places the player in the role of a plane crash survivor named Jack, who must explore the underwater city of Rapture, and survive attacks by the mutated beings and mechanical drones that populate it. The game incorporates elements found in role-playing and survival games, and the atmosphere is so thick in that I would go see this movie multiple times if they ever decide to film it.
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9. Video Game: Mass Effect 2 [Average Rating:8.56 Overall Rank:7] [Average Rating:8.56 Unranked]
Joseph Rody
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I liked Mass Effect 1. Really... I did. Until I played Mass Effect 2.

Mass Effect 2 is one of those rare sequels that is actually better than the original... and the original was excellent. You play the role of Commander Shepard and the story gets really deep from there.

Mass Effect is a true space opera. Certain decisions made by players in the original Mass Effect impact Mass Effect 2 in some form or another. When starting a new game, players are given an option whether to import saved files. If they choose to import a file, a summary of each one is given to help them decide which one to use. Imported Commander Shepards can be started from scratch if desired.

Players can dictate whether Shepard will die at the end of Mass Effect 2 based on their choices throughout the game. While exploring, recruiting squad members and hunting the Collectors, players can gather enemy intelligence and resources to purchase various upgrades for the Normandy that will have an effect on the final mission. If a player's Shepard dies at the end of the game, he/she cannot be imported into Mass Effect 3. Team members are affected by the player's decisions as well. Endings range from the entire team surviving to the entire team being killed, and everything in between.


With so many options and many side missions / quests, I continue to play this game even today.
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10. Video Game: Civilization IV [Average Rating:8.38 Overall Rank:19]
Joseph Rody
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Any game of Civilization will sedate even the most agressive animal types. take the most viscious criminal, put him at a keyboard and he will willingly spend the rest of his life chained to his chair playing this game.

Civ (in any form) has got to be the most addictive software game ever made. I've probably logged more hours of Civ than I have of sleeping and eating combined. Well...maybe not eating because my computer room is fully stocked with every snack food known to modern geeks so I don't have to interrupt my Civ game to head into the kitchen.

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11. Video Game: SimCity 2000 [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:338]
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You don't nuke anyone, you don't capture things, you aren't whisking through the sky cracking one-liners and saving women in skimpy clothing... so why is this game so addictive?


Without a doubt this ate up any "spare" time I had. You just keep building...and designing...and adding...and remodeling...and demolishing... and its fun.

Seems more like work than play but you had to be there.

Spawned a number of sequels (Sim Tower, Sim Farm, Sim City CCG, Sim This, Sim That, Sim the Other Thing. etc.).

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12. Video Game: StarCraft [Average Rating:8.07 Overall Rank:59] [Average Rating:8.07 Unranked]
Joseph Rody
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This game spawned the term "ZERG RUSH". I like war games. I like board games that are war games. Whenever I feel the moment is right, either when I see an opening or I am being desperately crushed into oblivion... I mount a Zerg Rush.

Hell... I've even Zerg-Rushed the pizza delivery guy when he was late (and I was starving).

This game spawned a life style. I read that people in Korea made a living playing this game professionally. The article mentioned that games typically lasted 15 minutes on the Pro Circuit.

Since my games usually lasted for hours, it looks like I can cancel this out as a career option.

Star Craft gave birth to a sequel and a board game as well as my favorite catch phrase.
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13. Video Game: X-COM: UFO Defense [Average Rating:8.70 Overall Rank:8]
Wulf Corbett
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Come on, now, how can you even mention classic video games and not have this at the top of the list? I currently own 2 floppy disc versions, 3 on CD, and a few 'revamps' I downloaded. Still a superb - and damn difficult - game.
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14. Video Game: Tomb Raider (1996) [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:497]
Wulf Corbett
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Yes, I know, it's old now, it's been done a thousand times since, and many of them better. And, yes, it was blatantly aimed at salivating teenage boys with an ass fetish (here in the UK we had Annika Rice on Treasure Hunt...)

But it was the start of something, it was and is iconic of it's genre, and it remains just good fun! I never liked platform games, they just did not work on old slow PCs (I have never owned a console), but the idea of a proper 3D action game with (what felt like) complete freedom of movement was wonderful!

The ass always looked a bit angular to me though. Improved magnificently through the series of games.
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15. Video Game: Carmageddon [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:1012]
Wulf Corbett
Scotland
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Not only a great old game, but also one of the earliest widely-known controversial video games. Splattering innocent pedestrians as you race through city streets was deemed too shocking in many countries, so in the UK the peds were replaced by green-blooded groaning zombies, while in Germany they went even further and replaced them with robots!

I hadn't known of this before I bought the game, and emailed the company to voice my objections. They replied something like this:
"We are sorry this decision has been forced on us by the censorship system, but we hope you will still enjoy the game. If you go to , you will find many extra features to enhance your enjoyment."

And there, on the fansite, was the UK Blood Patch

OK, publicity seeking and manipulative, but I got what I wanted. Sadly, I can't get the original game running happily on my current machine, even in DOSbox, but the rest of the series do fine.
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16. Video Game: Castle of the Winds: Lifthransir's Bane [Average Rating:8.24 Overall Rank:2980] [Average Rating:8.24 Unranked]
ErikPeter Walker
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Rochester
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A fun, beatable roguelike for Windows 3.1. It had a couple dungeons and a bit of story.
 
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17. Video Game: Descent: FreeSpace – The Great War [Average Rating:7.99 Overall Rank:618]
ErikPeter Walker
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Rochester
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This game came out at the tail end of the space combat simulator era, and while it didn't have many similarities to its predecessor (which, although innovative and great because of the full 3D exploration, another FPS) it really shines as an incredible example of immersive, exhilarating (and not-that-linear) storytelling.

Anyone familiar with Wing Commander or the new BSG TV series will feel at home. A great example of how cool the story is is the early plot twist that sets the scale for the rest of the game: You are out on a sortie against some pretty basic 'alien bad guys' that the humans are at war with, when, in the middle of the battle, freaking invisible super-aliens with high-tech weapons and shields show up and start blowing the crap out of you. You end up teaming up with your former enemies to stop them.

Over the course of the game you enhance your technology to meet the Shivans head on, and go from one climactic setpiece battle to the next. The story and mission parameters change based on your actions in each mission--for example, if you somehow managed to defeat one of the Shivans in that first encounter (with crappy guns and no auto-lock) you might get a special commendation or promotion--which means that instead of taking mission objectives from Alpha leader from now on, you ARE Alpha leader. Now you plan the battle ahead of time, you tell your wingmen where to go. Even modern games rarely tie that kind of "achievement" mechanic so closely into the gameplay.

All in all, a must-play classic.
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18. Video Game Developer: id Software
ErikPeter Walker
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Most of id Software's early catalog. Their games have always been tech demos, but that didn't stop them from being the best in their class until a little company called Valve came along.

The Commander Keen: Invasion of the Vorticons games were top-notch platformers with secrets, tight controls and plenty of room for emergent hilarity. The controls are wicked by today's standards, but I still suggest grabbing it on Steam.

The original Wolfenstein 3D and its sequel, Spear of Destiny (1992), should be used as case studies for excellent level design--later third-party expansions were bland in comparison. Despite being essentially a 'maze game' the game balance and flow was top notch. None of its imitators--or even the Mac port of the game (despite having better graphics) felt nearly as fluid.

Then Doom came out and upped the ante. It had stunning graphics (at the time), awesome weapons, scary enemies. The levels were fun and tricky and challenging, but also just felt right.

Quake was great fun too (and awesomely, the original design documents appear to have evolved into id's recent release, Rage: Mutant Bash TV), and really showed off how fun Deathmatch could be (though Doom had it first).
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19. Video Game: Bolo [Average Rating:7.12 Unranked]
ErikPeter Walker
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Rochester
Minnesota
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Bolo!
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20. Video Game: Winter Games [Average Rating:6.16 Overall Rank:3450]
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Switzerland
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Or some other game of this type...
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21. Video Game: Eye of the Beholder [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:540]
Joseph Rody
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Dungeons and Drangons was the genetic sire for most modern RPG's. There may be an argument against this but I cannot recall a more influential role playing game. D&D affected not only its gendre but crossed the artificial lines and boundaries into Sci-fi, westerns, etc.

Many titles were released (recall the Gold Box series) but the ones that captuured my time and attention were the BEHOLDER series. The three games in this series improved the graphics, the interface and the style of play over any previous iteration.

It also helped that I could carry my character attributes and accomplishments over to the next game. After geeking out at a screen for hours on end, I hate to see all my hard work go to waste.

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22. Video Game: Diablo II [Average Rating:7.95 Overall Rank:70]
Joseph Rody
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WOW... talk about an in-depth RPG. This was THE game. If D&D was good, this was the Kingdom of Heaven.

Diablo II is a dark fantasy/horror-themed hack and slash, with elements of the role playing game and dungeon crawl genres. It linear mission spread across many "acts" or sections but lot's of cool side quests that take you deep into this made-up world.

Diablo II allows the player to choose between five different character classes: Amazon, Necromancer, Barbarian, Sorceress, and Paladin. Each character has different strengths and weaknesses and sets of skills to choose from, as well as varying beginning attributes. The maximum level that any character can obtain is level 99.

You can play multi-player and we found it better this way. As 3 or 4 of us would team up, one person was usually stronger. We could level our characters up better with him defending our lives against the tougher denizens of Diablo.

One of the cool (spelled Kewl) featuress was the way you could modify items. You could take armor, weapons, shields, sorcery items, etc. and make them much better. As you accumulated treasure from your quests and kills, you could add the gems and runes to some items...making them nigh unstoppable.

You could take your classic butterknife and with the right combination of add-on's and magic, turn it into the nuclear chainsaw of death. Now... Diablo never had a butterknife or a nuclear chainsaw but you get the analogy (I hope).

This is what the D&D series should have been.





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23. Video Game: Doom 3 [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:835] [Average Rating:6.89 Unranked]
Joseph Rody
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The entire DOOM series influenced my gaming. "Influenced" is a nice way of saying that I avoided social contacts, neglected my responsibilites, consumed more junk food and sugar by-products than is allowable by law ... all in the pursuit of gaming.

The game is a reboot of the Doom franchise, disregarding the storylines of the previous Doom video games. Doom 3 is set in 2145 on Mars, where a military-industrial conglomerate has set up a scientific research facility to develop fields such as teleportation, biological research and advanced weapons design. However, the teleportation experiments inadvertently open a gateway to Hell, resulting in a catastrophic invasion by demons. The player, an anonymous space marine, must fight through the base and find a way to stop demons from Hell attacking Earth.

Doom 3, to me was the best in the Doom line. The graphics were superior for the time, the ambiance was eerie, the lights, shadows and sounds were downright spooky. While there are a few games that unsettled me...this game made me downright uneasy and jumpy.

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24. Video Game: Quake 4 [Average Rating:6.42 Overall Rank:1972]
Joseph Rody
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I remember talking to myself (I do that more than i am willing to admit) and wondering why Quake 4 seemed a lot like Doom 3? Turns out that the makers of Doom 3 ( Id ) supervised the making of this game and even gave/sold them the game engine used in Doom 3.

This triggered the dim 25-watt light bulb in my head as I said "Ah ha!". I had an epiphany... or, at least, as much of an enlightening moment as was possible for someone who lives in his man-cave, playing games ad nauseum and subsisting entirely on foods with absolutely no nutritional value.

The Quake 4 single player mode continues the story of Quake II by pitting the player against a cyborg alien race known as the Strogg. The game follows the story of a Marine named Matthew Kane who is a member of the fabled Rhino Squad. Following the success of the protagonist of Quake II in destroying the Strogg's leader, the Makron, the Rhinos are tasked with spearheading the mission to finally secure the aliens' home planet Stroggos. In the course of the invasion, the squad ship is shot down and crashes in the middle of a battle zone, separating Kane from his companions. Kane eventually rejoins his scattered team members and partakes in the assault against the Strogg.

The special effects are spectacular and the Sci-Fi setting appeals to the geek in me. If you enjoyed Doom 3, you will probably enjoy Quake 4.
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25. Video Game: Ultima VII: The Black Gate [Average Rating:8.27 Overall Rank:187]
Joseph Rody
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The entire ultima series can be praised as a ground breaking RPG. My favorite is VII.

Ultima VII: The Black Gate is the seventh installment of the Ultima series of computer role-playing games.

The Black Gate was critically and commercially successful, being widely lauded as a high point in the series and as one of the best isometric RPGs ever created. In an interview with GameSpot, Richard Garriott stated that Ultima VII "was the most masterfully executed of the Ultima series."

This is high praise indeed. If you played computer games in DOS, it didn't get any better than this.
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