Metacritic is one of the internet’s entertainment review aggregates, and we used its data to figure out which PC games are the most iconic of our time. In order to give users an unbiased look, Metacritic’s data features each game’s Metascore – the summation of critic reviews – as well as the average user score as well.
Converting the Metascore’s 100-point system to a 10-point one like the user scores, we averaged out what critics and gamers alike have said about these classics over the years to concretely say which games truly hold their own in the test of time.
10 The Sims (2000)
Will Wright had a hit with Sim City. So, it was bound to be a success when he took a magnifying glass to it and let you play dolls with the people living there. Throughout the years since its release, The Sims franchise has taken on a life of its own, eclipsing Sim City and going on to spawn sequels, spin-offs, and add-ons. The game is fun and easy enough to bring casual gamers in, promising friendships, romances, careers, and most importantly, homeownership.
Inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame in Rochester, NY in 2016, with a Metascore of 92 and User Score of 8.0, The Sims kicks off our list at a strong 8.6.
9 Minecraft (2011)
The grip Minecraft had on the gaming community when it launched can’t truly be forgotten. The game initially released in early 2009 and had developer updates steadily until Mojang released the final version of it in late 2011, selling over a million copies in the first month. Consistent updates have kept the game relevant even today.
Taking numerous awards from gamers young and old alike. With it’s Metascore of 93 and User Score of 8.1, this sandbox game has stood the test of time at an average score of 8.7.
Home to one of the most active modding communities, Skyrim has spent the last decade at the top. Though how many platforms Skyrim has reached has become a meme, the game more than made a home for itself in the action RPG genre.
It was heralded for being versatile, engaging, and well-rounded for its approach to classic RPG elements like character class, in-game perks, NPCs, UI, and art style. Skyrim still stays relevant with a Metascore of 94 and a User Score of 8.4 averaging out to 8.9.
7 Disco Elysium: The Final Cut (2021)
You go through the most modern game on our list as a cop with amnesia, who’s trying to solve a murder through dialogue in a city ruined by war. What’s not to love? Though the game was already great on its initial 2019 release, it was enhanced significantly with a free update on PC in 2021. Written and designed by Estonian novelist Robert Kurvitz, this independent game dev didn’t know what a hit he had until Game of the Year awards began pouring in.
A TV series was announced in 2020, and with a story this rich and character-heavy, who can blame Kurvitz for agreeing to that? The game has a 97 Metascore and a User Score of 8.4, averaging out to a combined 8.95.
6 BioShock (2007)
Would you kindly give this iconic horror FPS the respect it’s more than earned? Heavy on the Ayn Rand references, in 2K Games’ hit 2007 release, you make your way through Rapture, a once-idyllic underwater metropolis that’s been overrun with genetic mutants and huge protectors known as Big Daddies. The eerie visuals, the tenseness that permeates throughout, along with a well-executed plot twist, this game earned a number of awards, including several Game of the Year spots.
Launching a series that’s proven its staying power, with a Metascore of 96 and a User Score of 8.6, BioShock boasts a combined score of 9.1.
5 Sid Meier’s Civilization 2 (1996)
This turn-based strategy game might not have been the first in its series, nor the last, but it sure gave the series staying power. Your goal in the Civilization games is overseeing your empire through time, and competing directly with a handful of AI to complete the victory conditions. Scout the map, raise an army, settle a capital city, and set about racing to be the first to defeat all other civilizations, to get to space, or survive until 2020 (which probably sounded way more appealing back in the 90s).
It’s easy to sink hours into a campaign, and Civ’s scores reflect that. With a 94 Metascore and User Rating of 8.8, Civilization 2 stays firm almost three decades later with a 9.1
4 Mass Effect 2 (2010)
In Mass Effect 2 you continue Commander Shepard’s mission to save the human race. The sequel to BioWare’s 2007 release, Mass Effect 2 vastly improved on the combat system, as well as added complex and well-written characters that it depicted via acclaim-worthy cinematography. It’s impossible not to get emotionally invested in the characters and their stories, and easy to see why the game has been nominated for dozens of awards over the years.
BioWare’s hit series has staying power, and the most popular of its entries has a 94 on Metacritic with a User Score of 8.9, bringing it to a combined 9.15.
3 Baldur’s Gate 2: Shadows Of Amn (2000)
BioWare makes the list once again with this RPG sequel, and for good reason – not only is Baldur’s Gate 2 great, but it’s jam-packed with 200 to 300 hours of content. In 2000, that was unheard of, but between the main story and side quests, you more than get your money’s worth. Critics lauded the game at the time with words like “captivating,” “polished,” and “exemplary.”
Having earned its place on numerous Game of the Year lists, this classic RPG has a Metascore of 95 and a User Score of 9.1, bringing it to a combined 9.3.
2 Portal 2 (2011)
Sure, the cake might be a lie, but Portal 2 taking the second spot on our list definitely isn’t. This 2011 sequel follows the original’s puzzle-platformer gameplay, and adds new elements, including tractor beams, light bridges, and lasers. Guiding voice and classic video game antagonist Glados returns, and she’s pissed that you killed her in the prequel.
Portal 2 is unique because it’s educational value, with some teachers using it to help students learn physics. It took prizes left and right in the first half of the 2010s, and with a Metascore of 95 and a User Score of 9.1, Portal 2 stood the test of time with a combined 9.3.
1 Half Life 2: 2004
Released in 2004 to follow up on the smash success of its predecessor, Half-Life 2 puts players back into the mind of Gordon Freeman. You’re joined by Alyx Vance as you fight your way through the campaign to the people helping the Combine, in order to free the human race.
The game’s reception has remained positive, too: it won 39 Game of the Year awards, along with awards for dozens for components like voice acting and sound effects, and even has several nods in 2008 from Guinness World Records. Between its Metascore of 96 and User Score of 9.2, Half-Life 2 claims the top spot with a combined 9.4.
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