We all play videogames, but what are the best science fiction-themed games that a fanboy should know and love? Below we’ve drilled the list down to the ten best franchises across all platforms. It doesn’t matter if you’re a PC or console gamer, there’s something here for you and they’re all good.
The Mass Effect Trilogy
BioWare’s science fiction space opera is the best combination of Star Trek and Star Wars one could ever want in a game. While the first game can be a bit of a grind, the second is one of the best games ever made and worth every single second you put into it. We can’t wait for the third part of the trilogy which will bring the fight to Earth.
Blizzard’s sequel to the StarCraft phenomenon took a while to get here, but it improved on the original in almost every way (LAN fanboys can just shut it, OK?). From the improved Battle.Net to a really satisfying campaign, the game gives you more than your money’s worth in both the single player and multi-player game modes.
EVE is a MMO that isn’t for everyone, but it’s one of the best “hard scifi” settings in any game. From the player driven economy, to the player driven politics; there really isn’t another MMO like EVE out there; especially after EA shut down Earth & Beyond. Just watch out for pirates camping jump gates; or else you’re ship is gone and you’re just a pod floating in space.
EA’s Dead Space games take the formula made famous in Alien and apply it to an amazing set of games. The first is set on a ship, and the second is set on a space station, and both are worth playing through from beginning to end. The Zero-G parts are a real highlight, as is the use of surround sound to make you crap your pants multiple times. Just don’t play in the dark.
Master of Orion II
About fifteen years ago; “4X” strategy games were extremely popular on the PC, and one of the best was Mindscape’s Master of Orion series. The original is a classic, but its sequel surpassed the first game and is easily the best of the series. Things went a bit downhill in the third game, but MOO2 remains one of the most addiction sci fi games ever made.
Star Wars: TIE Fighter
The sequel to X-Wing didn’t just improve upon the original in nearly every way, it went down in history as the greatest Star Wars game made and no game has yet to come even close to topping it. In X-Wing if you failed one part of mission, you were screwed. TIE Fighter fixed this by including optional mission objectives where if you messed up you weren’t completely out of luck. But do enough of these optional missions and the Emperor himself will notice you and invite you into his secret club complete with cool tattoos! Even the graphics received a slight upgrade from X-Wing, and Lucasarts’ iMUSE sound system was at well use with its famous dynamic soundtrack. TIE Fighter is in desperate need of a 21st Century face-lift and re-release for modern computers so a whole new generation can experience what Star Wars gaming was meant to be.
The five Fallout games (1, 2, Tactics, 3, New Vegas) put you in a believable post-apocalyptic United States and you can basically do what you want. With the first two in the series set mostly on the West Coast, the third put things around Washington DC, and I don’t really need to tell you where New Vegas is set. Definitely play the first two, as they’re classics. The third and New Vegas are great as well.
This one may be tough to track down, but it’s definitely worth it. One of the last of the mega-budget adventure games in the 90s, Westwood Studios (creators of Command & Conquer) created the perfect Blade Runner game. You don’t play Deckard, but you explore that perfectly realized future Los Angeles in one of the most impressive movie-licensed games ever made.
Roger Willco’s adventures are considered PC classics today, and any science fiction fanboy will die laughing at all of the references sprinkled throughout the games. Sure, the first three may look primitive to todays standards, but the humor is still great and the puzzles are still challenging and in some cases deadly.
One can’t list off the great science fiction games without mentioning Bungie’s Halo. What began life as a RTS along the lines of the company’s Myth games ended up revolutionizing the first person shooter genre and became a cultural phenomenon of its own.