5. Medieval 2: Total War
While some might think it not as good as previous entries or is simply Rome: Total War 1.5, M2TW still is an amazing game. Medieval warfare has never been this much fun. The gameplay is deep, engaging and challenges your mind much more then your clicking ability. One of the few games that make great use of the environment.
4. Warhammer 40 000: Dawn of War, Winter Assault and Dark Crusade
Gameplay wise, it isn't anything groundbreaking. However, the execution is perfect. The game is graphically superb, with details going as far as tiny blood marks on your soldiers' armor. The action is fast and intense. The world is dark and violent, fanatical and deadly. The developers at Relic managed to translate everything that made the incredible Warhammer 40 000 universe from Games Workshop to video game form. Great use of an existing franchise.
Note that it has one of the best intro videos ever made.
3. Unreal Tournament 2004 or the mod mania
Unreal Tournament was already a great game so it was natural that UT2k4, who follows the same basic gameplay, would be just as great. In fact, it surpasses its predecessor, allowing you new toys including vehicles for a bloody carnage. The game is superb in every thinkable way. The action is incredibly fast and incredibly fun! Nothing better after a bad day then loading UT2k4 and decapitating people with futuristic weaponry. A real blast (pun intended).
Furthermore, it boasts an incredible amount of mods, due mainly to a mod friendly approach taken by the developers at Epic. Buying UT2k4 doesn't give you only one game, it gives you access to an entire library of use made content, many of them, of excellent quality.
2. World of WarCraft
Please no MMO debate...not the time and place.
When I learned of WoW's existence, it was only a few days before the start of the open beta. I liked WarCraft 3, but wasn't that much into it or its lore. So I decided to sign up for the beta, which was one of the few that didn't require a credit card (something that I didn't have back then), downloaded the client and entered the World of WarCraft. And then it hit me, like when Rocky Balboa received that big punch from evil Soviet cyborg Ivan Drago. The game is superb and still is. It was a refreshing change for me, coming from StarCraft, Diablo 2 and BF1942, I needed a change of pace in my multiplayer gaming and WoW did it. Although there are gameplay annoyances, the game has superb art design and a rich and beautiful world to explore with friends. As someone who enjoys exploration, WoW really was fulfilling.
1. Tie between Tie Fighter and StarCraft
These are the two games I spent my teenage years playing. First things first, Tie Fighter.
Tie Fighter is the oldest game in my list, but arguably one of the best if not the best. It contained incredible dialogue, gameplay that surpassed X-Wing and an incredible cast of characters, including the famous Admiral Thrawn, that I've come to love due to his presence in Tie Fighter. This game put you in the seat of an Imperial craft to make you see the other side of the conflict. The developers truly made the Star Wars world an ambiguous affair, long before KotOR 2 did. In fact, they did it a hell of a lot better then KotOR 2. After the end of the game, you almost think that the Empire is the force of good. The game doesn't spend its time moralizing you, telling you that what you are doing is evil or bad for the galaxy. It tells you that you're an Imperial Ace, doing your job for the Empire, no more, no less. And it works. The magic works. Everything about this game is amazing. I cannot find a flaw in it.
StarCraft. Well, I'm Asian, is that enough
? Seriously though, this is the most popular RTS ever made and there's a reason for that. Gameplay was fast and exciting. The battles were exhilarating. Although the game focused on multiplayer, that doesn't mean Blizzard didn't put any effort into providing a great single player experience (unlike some developers *cough*Ensemble Studios*cough*). This is one of the few RTS games which made you care about the character. I felt bad when Kerrigan was left to die on Tarsonis. I enjoyed Jim Raynor's witty attitude. I loved Praetor Fenix, even though he had so little to do, he had this very aggressive and strong voice that made him likeable. I cried when Tassadar sacrificed himself to destroy the Zerg Overmind and save the Protoss people. Furthermore, the game has among the best cinematics ever made. From the Terran destruction team getting attacked by Zergs on a Science Vessel to Tassadar's sacrifice, everything was beautiful. Brood War added to that with its amazing intro video. You could feel the desperation and anger in the eyes of the Marine when he sees the Battlecruiser abandoning him as the Zerg are about to kill the remaining Terran forces. Amazing. Simply amazing.