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Over the last five years there have been some noteworthy games that have provided plenty of highlights for PC gaming fans. Popular series, such as Call of Duty, Far Cry, Total War, Half-Life and Command and Conquer have all been expanded with new games. Further to this, multiplayer gaming has also flourished with World of Warcraft expansion packs, Lord of the Rings Online and Guild Wars. So, there has not been any great shortage of top PC game titles over the last few years.
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2006: Company of Heroes
In 2006, Company of Heroes became the next great PC game to be set in 1944 France, but unlike past games it was one of the first strategy games with this setting. With either the American Able Company infantry division or Fox Company parachute regiment, players battled it out with the Germans over a number of missions that had variable objectives and dynamic battlefields. Company of Heroes' single player campaign included famous Allied operations such as D-Day, Operation Cobra and the Battle of Cherbourg.
The Essence game engine added some great effects and animations. In addition to this, it also included the Havoks physics engine and had some of the best physics of any strategy game before or since, with buildings and bridges that could be destroyed by a variety of weapons. Advanced squad AI also provided more advanced squad tactics for battles. As such, Company of Heroes was rated the best PC game of its year by a number of publications, such as IGN and PC Gamer.
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The outstanding PC game of 2007 was Crysis. It was a great sci-fi FPS action game that set new milestones in graphical design. Although admittedly, this also ensured high hardware requirements. Because of this, it became a benchmark for other PC games. Its single player game starred the US Delta Force Operator Nomad, who is sent to an island in the South China Sea after contact is lost with a team of US scientists that have discovered an alien structure. After a large alien ship reveals itself Nomad is left to battle it out with the aliens. Crysis had great open ended gameplay, which was in some respects similar to Far Cry, and provided various ways to reach the end of its levels. Objectives could be met in variable orders depending more on preference, and optional objectives were included. As a great addition to the single player game, Crysis also had a new 32-player multiplayer mode with armor and customizable weapons. Its epic plot, open ended gameplay and advanced graphic engine all ensured that Crysis was the best game of 2007.
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2008: World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King
The World of Warcraft game series was expanded with this expansion pack: Wrath of the Lich King. The game provided Warcraft fans with much of what they may have hoped for, including the new continent Northrend and the first announced hero class for World of Warcraft, the Death Knights. Like other World of Warcraft expansion packs, Wrath of the Lich King raised the level cap by 10, this time up to 80, with new quests and dungeons to battle through. It also included a number of new enhancements to the Warcraft graphics engine. As such, Wrath of the Lich King was the hottest PC game of 2008.
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2009: Empire: Total War
The Total War game series has had some great games, and among the best of these is Empire: Total War. The game is set in the 18th century and included the battles between the British, Spanish, Dutch, Russian and French empires. As such, the game had some great campaigns in Europe, the Indian sub-continent and the Americas, which included up to eleven playable empires or factions. These campaigns included a much greater variety of gunpowder weaponry than previous games in the series, which is perhaps not surprising considering its era. The campaign map had a variety of new upgrades and enhancements for trade, dipomacy and espionage. It was also the first in the series to include naval warfare with single ships or larger fleets. In addition to this, Empire: Total War revamped its multiplayer mode with new gameplay modes, leagues and player rankings. Overall, it was one of the best PC strategy games of recent times.
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2010: StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty
StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty was the much anticipated sequel to StarCraft. Although a few were disappointed with the lack of LAN play options for multiplayer games, overall the game was a worthy sequel to the original. StarCraft 2 is a sci-fi RTS game set in the 26th century. Its plot is based on the warring factions of the Protoss, Terran and Zerg in a distant part of the Milky Way Galaxy. The Wings of Liberty campaign focuses on the Terrans, and includes a number of unique missions. The sequel also provides some big enhancements to the multiplayer mode with a new ladder system for ranked games, matchmaking mechanics and enhanced replay options. So overall, StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty was one of the best games of the last five years.
These PC games were among the highlights of the last few years. Company of Heroes, Crysis, Wrath of the Lich King, Empire:Total War and StarCraft 2 were the best PC games of the last five years and among the finest PC games of the last decade.
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Source: Author's own review and opinion
Screenshots from Company of Heroes, StarCraft 2 and Crysis publisher websites.