My top three games

A few months ago, a friend sent the following email around to a few people:

Didn't know it was on, but put my vote in for ABCs good game top 100 games of all time. I challenge you to pick a better 3 than:

  • X-COM: Enemy Unknown (2012)
  • Planescape Torment
  • Minecraft

This seemed to kick something off, with people offering their three favourite games along with really interesting reasons for their picks. I decided to pitch in too, so here are my top three games and the reasons I picked them.

Total Annihilation

This game defined high school for me. It did stuff that no other strategy game had ever even thought of and was so far ahead of its time that games now are only just starting to catch up. Some of the things I'm talking about:

Ok, perhaps that last one is a bit of a lie. 'What started as a battle over the transfer of consciousness from flesh to machines...' is not one of the greatest lines written for computer games.


While in my opinion Portal 2 was the superior game with better visuals, sound and plot, the first game had more of an impact on me. Aside from the whole first-person puzzle aspect (which was completely amazing), Portal stands out as the point that single player games went from being 'for gamers' (i.e. epic stories that required investments of hours to play) to something that everyone could consume as entertainment. The writing was engrossing, immersive, and for the first time I can remember as an adult, genuinely funny. It's true that games often used humour before Portal but its release at a time when games were pushing for gritty realism (e.g. the Call of Duty and Battlefield series) really set it apart.

Frozen Synapse

I was the last of my friends to pick this game up and will likely be the last to put it down, barring the possibility that when I die someone decides to host a memorial tournament. The most common phrase to describe it is 'chess with guns', but for me 'brain crack' would probably be more accurate. There certainly wasn't any game previously (and I kind of hope there isn't one in the future) that has grabbed me in the same way FS did - I've played over 500 games, put in countless hours (the 140 hours logged on Steam pales in comparison to the number played off-Steam) and peaked in the top ten. There are very few things for me that come close to the feeling of priming a turn and seeing a ballet of death (watch the whole thing) unfold because you managed to predict your opponent's plan so perfectly.

Honourable mentions (yep, way past three)