Mass Effect 2 (2010)
The second instalment in the Mass Effect trilogy takes place in deep space during the 22nd century, so not the usual genre of fictional world I’d normally go for. It rates highly for me due to the fact that it isn’t really like any other game out there. As players who had completed the first Mass Effect could import their saved games to join Commander Shepard where they left off, I was one of the smug PC Gamers who played Mass Effect and mocked the console kids for their lack of knowledge on the series when ME2 came out. Naturally, since completing ME2 I have gone back and started from scratch, just to see what it was like. What can I say? I enjoy intense third-person combat too much. In comparison with Mass Effect, ME2 has increased intensity with precision shooter controls, location-based damage system that lets you target the weak points of your enemy and an entire galaxy to explore. It would be a waste to play it just once.
Recommended system requirements: ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT video card (or equivalent), 2.6+ GHz Core 2 Duo Intel (or equivalent), 2GB RAM.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011)
The fifth main title in the Elder Scrolls repertoire is set in Skyrim, the wintry homeland of the Nords – a fierce warrior people living on spectacular mountainous terrain in the bitter cold. Great to play if you’re British (or Scandinavian) as you’ll be comfortable in this climate. The truth is, you’ll need to make yourself at home because this is one mammoth adventure. A friend once wrote that playing Skyrim made him feel like his childhood dreams of discovering Narnia at the back of his wardrobe had finally come true. One of the less technical reviews I’ve heard, but I can see where he was coming from. You have the ability to mould your character into any hero you desire and to roam the vast, dangerous landscape at your leisure – the possibilities are endless. This fifth instalment of The Elder Scrolls wins a slot for freedom of choice, overwhelming quantity of content and irrepressible sense of adventure, as well as much-improved engine.
Recommended system requirements: Quad-core Intel/AMD CPU, 4GB RAM, 6GB of free hard drive space and an NVIDIA/AMD ATI graphics card with 1GB RAM.
What I recommend: The Neptune AMD Bulldozer 6800K 4.4GHz desktop PC – worth every penny! It’ll also cope with the downloadable HD textures that Bethesda have made available to download for free!
Bastion’s perhaps my favourite RPG that’s been released in recent years. It’s an action RPG with an unremarkable combat system, it’s short in length and the graphics are rather basic. Despite all its distinctly average attributes, Bastion is an incredible game. The beautiful watercolour style graphics, heartwarming story, fantastic soundtrack and one of gaming’s most loved narrators combine perfectly to create a truly unique RPG experience. I couldn’t help but get sucked into the story – even with a cast of just a few characters, only one of whom gets more than a couple of lines of dialogue, I was completely emotionally invested in Bastion. RPGs don’t need the budget of Skyrim or Mass Effect to succeed – they just need heart.
Minimum system requirements: 1.7+ GHz Dual Core CPU, 2GB RAM, 512MB video card.
What I recommend: Bastion doesn’t rely on stunning graphics, but to ensure you’re ready for Supergiant Games’ next release – Transistor, you might want to think about upgrading your rig.
Whatever your RPG preferences, I think these three deserve to be on everyone’s must-play list. Disagree? What would your choices be?