The death of PC gaming has been predicted countless times, but like punk rock it keeps coming back, stronger than ever. It can also be one of the most daunting gaming platforms, with infinite hardware configurations and the fear that each new release will push the benchmark beyond your humble rig. Such paranoia is largely unwarranted, however, and those who steer clear of PC games out of technophobia are missing out on some of the greatest interactive experiences of all time. Here's our pick of the best from the land of keyboard and mouse.
We will update this page periodically with new additions, although we won't add games to the list as soon as they are released - we'll wait for the dust to settle a bit and then make our minds up.
Top 10 PC Games
Football Manager 11 (SEGA / Sports Interactive)
The venerable footy management game has been with us since the salad days of 8-bit computers, but Sports Interactive has continually refined and honed this timeless framework into one of the most astonishing pieces of simulation around. Staggering depth combined with peerless interface design means it's easy for fans to be sucked in, but virtually impossible to drag yourself away. Sheepskin coat not included.
Football Manager 11 review (9/10)
Half-Life 2 (Valve Software)
Still held aloft as the pinnacle of the first-person shooter genre, Valve's remarkable dystopian saga still astonishes, even as it approaches its 10th birthday. There's pleasure in the varied enemies, the challenging AI and the environments that pull you into its subtle fiction, but the lasting appeal comes from the seamless way that story is woven into the world, adding urgency and emotion of Gordon Freeman's world-saving quest without resorting to blunt cut scene interruptions. A true timeless classic.
Half-Life 2 (10/10)
Without doubt the biggest indie success story in recent memory, Minecraft's open-world construct-'em-up offers the scale and scope of a gigantic RPG world with the moreish creativity of LEGO, and in doing so became a word-of-mouth hit that won over millions of players even before the code was finished. Not only is it one of the freshest, most ingenious games of the decade, it's also the sort of game that could only have come about on the meritocratic PC platform.
Minecraft review (No score)
Portal 2 (Valve Software)
From a cult morsel to bona fide blockbuster, Valve carefully shepherded its surprise 2007 hit to standalone status, and came up with a masterpiece of tone and balance in the process. As in the original, released as an extra in The Orange Box compilation, careful use of reality-warping portals is the key to solving a series of fiendish test chambers. Yet Portal 2 opens out the gameworld without losing sight of its heart, spinning a jet black comedy with only one live character, and at the same time adding new elements to its core mechanics. The funniest, most heart-breaking puzzle game you'll ever play.
Portal 2 review (10/10)
Sid Meier's Civilization 4
The PC is unique in that it's been home to some series that stretch back over decades, always changing alongside the software. That can make it hard to know where to jump on board a franchise, but for the legendary Civilization the answer is easy: 2005's Civilization 4. Even all these years later, there's not a strategy game that can touch it, not even its own not-quite-as-good follow up, Civ 5. The aim remains the same - command a nation from prehistory into the space age - but the myriad ways of completing this epic endeavour make it a journey that will be exclusively yours. Just don't forget to eat, OK?
Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty (Blizzard Entertainment)
As fast and ruthless as strategy gaming gets, Starcraft's long-awaited sequel rewarded PC players with the sort of intricate systems and hectic battles that would leave consoles chugging on their last scraps of RAM. Starcraft 2 demands a serious gaming rig, but is well worth the effort - a detailed and incredibly flexible tactical challenge that is so big that it had to be split into three parts.
Starcraft 2 review (9/10)
The Sims 3 (EA / Maxis)
Once mocked as little more than an interactive doll's house, Will Wright's life simulation has evolved with its burbling stars to include lofty AI goals like heredity, emotions, hopes and dreams. Also, wee. Lots and lots of wee. But that's the beauty of The Sims. It can be utterly daft, or quietly profound, in the way it mirrors real life. With The Sims 3, the series really took flight, freeing its population from their suburban plots and giving them entire towns to explore.
The Sims 3 review (8/10)
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (CD Projekt)
While Warcraft has pulled the role-playing game online and populated it with real people, the traditional single-player RPG thrives as well. Nowhere is this more true than in CD Projekt's richly drawn gothic masterpiece, where stereotypical elves and dwarves get a bloody, bawdy makeover. Sprawling in design, yet ruthlessly focussed in scope, The Witcher 2 is the sort of PC blockbuster that leaves console audiences green with envy.
The Witcher 2 review (9/10)
Total War: Shogun 2 (SEGA / Creative Assembly)
Real-time strategy is arguably the only genre that has resisted the gravitational pull of the consoles. First-person shooters have made their home there. Role-playing games now bend their epic vistas to accommodate the strict architecture of the PS3 and Xbox 360. Yet real-time strategy still works best with keyboard and mouse, and that's why the PC is the exclusive domain of fantastic games like Shogun 2. As you'd expect for a game that uses Sun Tzu's Art of War as the basis for its AI, this is strategy gaming as it's meant to be. Rich, challenging but surprisingly accessible.
Total War: Shogun 2 review (9/10)
World of Warcraft (Blizzard Entertainment)
With over 11 million subscribers, World of Warcraft is a one-of-a-kind juggernaut. A true virtual world that has ensnared enough people to populate a small country and a commercial success that many have tried - and failed - to emulate. While this may cause sleepless nights for the designers of rival multiplayer RPGs, it's great news for gamers, ensuring that the world of Azeroth is well populated and caters to players of every persuasion. A true virtual reality, you owe it to yourself to experience WOW at least once. Or twice. Or maybe more...
World of Warcraft review (10/10)
Tom Bramwell, Editor at Large - BioShock
"I love games where you write your own stories, which BioShock is great at, but I also like games where there are specific moments, people and levels you'll talk about for years afterwards, and BioShock has tons of those as well. One of the very best is right at the start too. If you're not immediately drawn into BioShock by the descent into Rapture, put down your keyboard and mouse and rethink your life."
BioShock review (9/10)
Wesley Yin-Poole, News Editor - DOTA
"What began as a mod for RTS Warcraft 3 quickly became the best thing about Blizzard's game. The secret to DOTA's addictive gameplay was the incredible balance of its hero units and its wonderfully-designed maps. The most influential mod of all time?"
Never reviewed. (Still awesome.)
Johnny Minkley, Eurogamer TV - Left 4 Dead 2
"The perfect antidote to a thousand anonymous headshots in Call of Duty, the beauty of Left 4 Dead is in its camaraderie: as good a co-op experience as could be imagined, where every player has a vital role to play. The many thrilling moments shared with friends in the face of the zombie apocalypse remain amongst the most memorable of any online experience I've had."
Left 4 Dead 2 review (9/10)
Oli Welsh, Reviews Editor - Team Fortress 2
"It's always been easy to love Team Fortress 2 for its clean cartoon art and balanced team play; the inspiring thing about it for me, though, is how both game and community have been constantly nurtured for years by Valve, seemingly just for the love of it. Console gamers wish they had multiplayer games like this - or they should, anyway."
Team Fortress 2 review (10/10)
John Bedford, Content Editor - EVE Online
"EVE's infamously brutal learning curve puts far too many people off enjoying one of the most compelling and satisfying sci-fi experiences ever created. Know everything about everything in real life? Course you don't, but you still manage to tie your shoelaces in the morning. Treat EVE the same, master one area of the game at a time, and embrace being part of the most delicately player-driven sandbox in gaming. Failure's never been so rewarding - and EVE will probably still be going after you're dead. Epic."
EVE Online review (8/10)