The following games are all deserving of a place in your games library.
The free-to-play Alien Swarm is a top-down shooter in which you work with up to three other people to enter off-world colonies, cleanse them of alien intruders and rescue their human inhabitants. With customisable weapons and many items to find, Alien Swarm is a fun, old-school arcade blaster that offers the additional benefit of running well on older computers. If you have even the slightest interest in blowing away teeming hordes of aliens with a few mates, you really have no reason not to play it.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
£12 inc VAT
Set in a haunted mansion, Amnesia is a single-player first-person adventure that focuses on exploration. Staying alive and keeping your sanity is the objective in this fright-fest, which requires both puzzle solving and sneaking around, avoiding confrontation with the deadly denizens. You’re defenceless in a house full of monsters of whom you almost never catch more than a glimpse. With gory graphics and top-notch, atmospheric sound, this game is one of the finest interactive horror experiences money can buy.
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
£19 inc VAT
The third Assassin’s Creed game, Brotherhood is set in Rome in probably the deepest and most visually rich setting in the series so far. A novel multiplayer mode pits players against one another: each receives a contract on another player and must ferret out their quarry from the crowd while trying to conceal their own identity from whoever is stalking them. The plot might leave a few too many of the franchise’s mysteries unsolved but, as far as gameplay goes, this assassin hits his mark.
Batman: Arkham Asylum
£19 inc VAT
The Caped Crusader has a chequered past when it comes to video games, but Arkham Asylum isn’t just one of the best Batman games, it’s one of the best games of the past five years. The action is stealth-based: Batman must sneak around, using his gadgets and his fists to get the drop on foes. Featuring fluid combat that incorporates a large repertoire of moves, and offering gameplay that favours lateral thinking over simple twitch reactions, Arkham Asylum is a mature title that is rewarding and enjoyable.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2
£6.60 inc VAT
The Battlefield series of military first-person shooters is well regarded for its fun, intense multiplayer mode. Bad Company 2 includes unique and varied situations and objectives, requiring players to contend with challenges such as timing sniper shots to coincide with thunderclaps to mask detection, or strategically placing explosions to collapse a building on enemies. The squad-based online multiplayer mode is a great bonus.
£20 inc VAT
Simple in concept but fiendishly addictive, the Bejeweled series is a hugely successful puzzle-gaming franchise that has sold more than 75 million copies worldwide. Bejeweled 3 doesn’t mess with the colour-matching formula, instead adding eight different game modes, a quest mode among them. Not every one of the additions is a hit, but most introduce new goals and mechanics that are just as captivating as the original title.
£10 inc VAT
Set in a world torn apart by vicious monsters and sadistic bandits, Borderlands is a first-person sci-fi shooter that blends action with role-playing-style character development (you improve your skills based on the experience you earn from completing quests and slaying baddies). With four characters that you can tailor to suit your playing style, and millions of weapons and tons of loot to discover as you traipse across the wasteland (or tool around in weapon-bearing dune buggies), Borderlands is huge fun and wonderful to look at.
£13 inc VAT
Notorious for its foul-mouthed dialogue and cartoonish ultra-violence, Bulletstorm is a first-person shooter that’s formulaic at its heart. However, its terrific visuals and insane action take things to a whole new level. The game rewards you for pulling off stylish kills, which is satisfyingly easy thanks to the array of crazy weaponry you get. Definitely not a game for children, Bulletstorm sets a new high (or low, depending on your viewpoint) for over-the-top action.
Call of Duty: Black Ops
£20 inc VAT
An instalment in one of the most successful modern-day franchises, Call of Duty: Black Ops is an exceptionally realistic and intense first-person shooter. The player goes on Cold War missions in Russia, Cuba, Laos and Vietnam as a covert operative. Judging from the stunning graphics, visceral action and varied gameplay, it’s easy to see why Call Of Duty is so popular. And once you’re bored of the single-player mode, you can go up against others in the multiplayer mode.
£10 inc VAT
Boasting jaw-dropping visuals, Crysis 2 is a first-person shooter set in a ruined New York, which is under martial law following an alien attack. The player takes a central role in reclaiming the Big Apple, working with a team of commandos whose nanosuits imbue them with superhuman powers. Offering a story as striking as the graphics, Crysis 2 is a showcase of PC action gaming.
Fallout: New Vegas
£15 inc VAT
In 2008, publisher Bethesda Softworks revived the nuclear wastelands of the Fallout series with the release of Fallout 3. Featuring a huge environment filled with characters and places to explore, the follow-up, Fallout: New Vegas, is thoroughly engrossing. Although it’s a role-playing game, it also has first-person action combat sequences. This works well, delivering satisfying results.
Mass Effect 2
£15 inc VAT
Is it a shoot-’em-up or a role-playing game? Mass Effect 2 is both. It not only vastly expands the first game’s cast of characters and the scope of the sci-fi story, but also adds prettier graphics, tighter combat and frequently presents you with moral decisions. Although veterans of the original will be more familiar with the story’s background, new players will quickly get up to speed.
£15 inc VAT
Minecraft, the ultimate sandbox game, gives the player an infinitely deep box of virtual Lego bricks for building pretty much anything. Whether that’s castles and statues, electronic calculators, replicas of the Starship Enterprise or just a simple safe house in which to survive a night of zombie attacks, Minecraft makes the hours fly by.
Red Faction: Guerrilla
£7 inc VAT
Although this third-person shooter has a clear objective? – your task is to topple a totalitarian regime on Mars – the open environment of Red Faction: Guerrilla lets you stomp off and do your own thing. The formula effectively allows you to get to grips with the weapons and environments. Great graphics, destructible environments and a high degree of ‘Wow, I can’t believe I can do that!’ make this game a winner.
£15 inc VAT
Rift, a massively multiplayer online game, has quickly garnered a fervent following. Featuring four customisable classes, the game offers a heady mix of questing and dungeon crawling in a vast and beautiful environment. A game that will easily consume weeks and months of play time as you level up your character and earn ever-more-powerful gear, Rift provides a constantly changing experience.
StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty
£29 inc VAT
The original StarCraft, a military game in a sci-fi setting, is the most successful ever real-time strategy title. In Wings of Liberty, fans get most of the things they loved about StarCraft, and plenty of new features. Players command armies of specialised units and use them to wage war with other players or a computer opponent across a wide variety of landscapes. StarCraft II is tactical, strategic and creative – a war game unlike any other.
£15 inc VAT
Torchlight marries the whacking of loot-filled monsters with terrific dungeon-crawling action. Players roam in randomly generated dungeons, killing enemies and fulfilling quests. Torchlight stands out not only for its sense of humour, but also for including a pet that fights alongside you and that can instantly return to town to sell off items – a handy feature. It’s compulsive.
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II
£5 inc VAT
Set in the futuristic Warhammer 40,000 universe, where human Space Marines battle Orks, the elf-like Eldar and the bioengineered Tyrannid, Dawn of War II alters the real-time strategy formula by eliminating resource gathering and unit building. Instead, the player starts with a set number of customisable units, supplemented by friendly units on the battlefield. Gameplay is intuitive and fun, and it quickly teaches you to become a sophisticated tactician.
World of Tanks
£6 inc VAT
Developed in Belarus, this is the best tank warfare game we’ve tried. Players jump
into an American, German or Russian World War II tank and enter battles where two teams of 15 fight for survival. Success yields credits that let you upgrade your tank or buy a more powerful one. The game requires you to use the tactical thought and strategy of
a tank commander. With its fantastic graphics, superb battlefields and impressive selection of historically accurate tanks, World of Tanks is highly recommended.
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm
World of Warcraft is the most successful massively multiplayer role-playing game in existence. Recently overhauled with the Cataclysm expansion, it features a huge world, customisable characters and a bewildering amount of things to do. Whether you want to explore, collect virtual items, fight other players or just hang out, the game has something for everyone. And now with its free-to-play option, you have no excuse not to try World of Warcraft.