Through the annals of gaming history, certain titles stand out in glistening six foot tall neon letters. These games have created genres, inspired the games that followed, or simply been damn good fun.

So, without any further ado, here is our pick of some of The Greatest Computer Games .. Ever!

Pong

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Pong (picture half-inched from AtariHQ)

Pong is the original, one of the very first electronic games, a ridiculously simple game involving a pair of rectangular "bats" and a vaguely ball-shaped blob that bounces backwards and forwards between them.

As well as helping to spawn the entire computer games industry, it has been revamped as a modern console game, become a cultural icon of the twentieth century, and appeared in a music video courtesy of French electronic band Air...

"Who could have predicted back then that such a simple game would kick-start the gaming age?", mused EuroGamer writer Geoff Richards.

Elite

A strong favourite for EuroGamer Editor John Bye and gaming evangelist Mat Bettinson, Elite brings back waves of nostalgia for those of us old enough to remember its original release, way back in the days when CGA graphics were revolutionary and a BBC Micro was a state of the art home computer.

Black and white wireframe graphics, free form gameplay, and a massive universe to explore made Elite an instant classic when it was first released, and developers have been trying (largely unsuccessfully) to clone it ever since.

The basic idea was simple enough - you piloted a ship between a seemingly endless series of star systems, doing whatever you wanted to. There was no real goal to the game, although you could judge your success by your wealth, your pilot rating, or your criminal record.

Although it looks primitive today, the game is a classic and pretty much created the entire space combat genre. More recent space trading games such as "X : Beyond The Frontier" and "Wing Commander : Privateer" owe a particular debt to Elite and its sequels, and are still proving popular today.

Expect a flood of massively multiplayer Elite-style space trading and combat games over the next few years...

Doom

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X : Beyond The Frontier

Peter Male picked out Doom as his favourite game of all time. "It was really the first game that got me started on the road to gaming", he told us.

Although id Software had already laid the groundwork for the first person shooter genre in early games like Wolfenstein 3D, it was Doom that catapulted them from being just another shareware developer to becoming one of the most respected companies in the computer games industry.

Doom also more or less invented from the scratch the idea of deathmatch, with up to four players able to play over a network, or two players via serial cable or modem. For the time it was state of the art.

Doom is another of John's favourites as well, largely thanks to the ability to modify and add to the game.

"Doom was a major force in the creation of the internet gaming community, with hundreds of 'amateur' designers exchanging add-on maps for the game, and creating classic modifications such as the Aliens TC, which still ranks as one of the scariest games ever made. Many of the top companies in the gaming industry today are based around people who got their first break designing add-ons for games like Doom."

"Without Doom I don't know what I would be doing for a living, but it certainly wouldn't be this! My first website was a way of sharing my own Doom maps with the rest of the world, and later reviewing other people's maps. That led me to a job running PlanetQuake, and finally to working as editor of EuroGamer."

"I can't imagine what my life would have been like without Doom."

Quake 2

It is perhaps no surprise that both co-founder Nick Loman and web designer Jay Adair picked out Quake 2 as the greatest of game of all time, and it is certainly one of the most popular games amongst our staff.

"No other game has kept me coming back so many times, whether its for a duel, a team game, or just some free for all action on a public server", explained Nick.

"It not only brought fresh enthusiasm to the Quake scene, but was also in the right time-frame to take advantage of the more powerful 3D video cards that were coming out", Jay said.

Although the out-of-the-box experience was a little disappointing, once id had patched it in February '98 it soon became one of the most popular online games. With classic deathmatch maps, an excellent CTF mode, and countless mods, maps and models created by the Quake community, Quake 2 is sure to remain popular despite the recent release of Quake 3 Arena and Unreal Tournament.

Total Annihilation

Described by our gaming evangelist Mat Bettinson as "the most incredible Real Time Strategy game ever", Total Annihilation is another firm favourite amongst our staff.

The graphics might be something less than state of the art these days, but the gameplay is still as solid as ever, and the game now offers an almost infinite selection of units and buildings to construct thanks to multiple expansion packs and free add-ons provided by developer Cavedog over the internet.

The recent addition of the "Boneyards" multiplayer system, which allows hundreds of gamers to take part in an online galactic war, only adds to the game's appeal, and perhaps points the way forwards for real time strategy games of the future.

A truly groundbreaking example of its genre...

Ultima Online

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Quake 2

Ultima Online is one game that managed to pass most of the EuroGamer staff by, partly because of the long delay in setting up the first European servers for the game, and partly because we were all too busy playing Quake 2 and Total Annihilation at the time. But there is no doubt that the game will go down in history as a groundbreaking classic.

Although it wasn't the first massively multiplayer RPG, Ultima Online was certainly the first commercially successful one. Despite having an ageing graphics engine and a long list of bugs, design issues and performance problems on launching, hundreds of thousands of gamers have signed up for it.

And as well as buying the game to get started, they are also paying developers Origin a monthly subscription fee to cover the on-going costs of running the servers and supporting and expanding the game.

Ultima Online is now Origin's most profitable game ever, and has proven to be such a success that the company has entirely ditched single player gaming to concentrate on producing more online games. For the company behind the long running Ultima and Wing Commander franchises, that is quite a step to take.

Ultima Online showed that it was possible to set up and run a game with thousands of players from around the world playing simultaneously, all living, trading, fighting and exploring in a fantasy land .. and paying by the month for the privilege.

Since then the game has been joined by more visually impressive games such as Everquest and Asheron's Call, but Ultima Online is the one that kick started the whole online revolution.

John "Gestalt" Bye

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Quake 2 .. on the N64!

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Total Annihilation
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Ultima Online
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Ultima Online gets a visit from Santa .. oh dear.

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