1. Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings
The first "real" game i got into. After 10 years i still play it every now and then. Even in 2011 the 2D art looks great and the gameplay is really fun. AoE2 is the game for me that captures that magic formula of collecting stuff - to make stuff - to kill the other guys' stuff with - the best. I think it does so for me because the game takes the classic fast paced gameplay of Starcraft and C&C, slow it down a bit while expanding the scale of the map and giving you more things to do. So you can totally build giant fortified cities and warfleets, advance through ages and just take your time to do stuff! (while in starcraft the game can end after 5 minutes if you forget to build an overlord -_-) Anyway, AoE2 is just a hell of a game!
2. Jazz Jackrabbit 2
A lot of "serious" PC gamers (and PC game designers) often forget: games are about having fun. Well i've had a lot of fun playing a PC game called Jazz Jackrabbit 2. Everything about it was just crazy, from the over the top art style, the variety of "a wink and a nod" levels to the wacky soundtrack and the special attacks, which just destroy enemies into pieces. JJR2 also played really well, with its combination of very fast running and jumping, gunplay and collecting coins and weapons. Each weapon came in handy in a different situation. Also if you want to play this game, here's a pro tip: use Spazz, he has the karate kick ; )
3. Rome: Total War
The most epic game i've ever played. The sheer scale of the game just blew me away at the time. Combined with rock-solid gameplay, Rome was a winner. I only felt there should've been a little more depth and a little less micromanagement in the turn based part of the game. But those epic, EPIC battles where two armies of 20 000 dudes clash, and after 15 minutes just five of your dudes are still alive and scream "VICTORY!", while standing on an ginormous pile of corpses, are awesome! (and pretty funny :p) Also, check out Europa Barbarorum; a great mod that gives the game a lot more depth.
4. Dragon Age: Origins
This game can be grueling, not because it's too complex or needlessly hard, but because IT IS SO LONG! (after 60 hours i'm still not anywhere near the end) and THERE IS SO MUCH TO DO! (you can have 10 min conversions with almost everybody, fiddle around with your party tactics to perfection or read an ingame encyclopedia) That is another great thing about the game; it really takes its time to set up and fill out the world and story and although it certainly is a fairly standard variation on the classic Tolkien fantasy, it also has some interesting takes on it. But the best thing about Dragon Age is its combat. It can be challenging but it never felt frustrating to me. Most of the time when i could not win a battle, i just stopped playing for a bit and just thought about what went wrong, did it again, and then crushed it no problem :) I just like how the combat didn't feel like an excuse to get to the next awesome story moment, a problem that a lot of other rpgs have.
5. Mass Effect
Mass Effect was so awesome for me because, like a good movie, it got me engaged right of the bat and it never lost its momentum. So like i a good movie i wanted to finish Mass Effect in one sitting. That was of course impossible, but still, i finished it in 3 days. It blew me away that a game could tell such a cinematic story but do it in a way even better than a movie could. The second game was a giant leap forward in terms of gameplay and if Bioware can end the trilogy with a bang I think the Mass Effect series will stick with a lot of people for a long time.
6. StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty
Dude! An rts in 2010 that sells millions of copies? What a strange world we live in... Anyway, if i could only play 1 game, it would be starcraft 2. The missions of the singleplayer campaign are really fun (although the story sucks balls) but it's the multiplayer that gives it so much extra value. So much so that you could play it forever, it would never become boring. Whether you play 1v1 or 3v3 with friends, the game always finds equally skilled/incompetent opponents for you. For me, it's all about that mental rush i get when the outcome of a match hangs on the edge of a knife... I know that in a year, i'll still feel that way.
7. The Orange Box
So if you consider bang for your buck a deciding factor when buying games, you can't beat Orange Box. While the Half-Life games can get a little long-winded and frustrating, they're still filled with atmosphere and thrilling moments. Then you get Team fortress 2, which is pure ludacris multiplayer mayhem and Portal, which was both a beautiful surprise and the icing on the cake. (get it?! portal?! cake?!) What a great deal!
So yeah, this is a browser based, free to play MMO with lots of grinding and the people who played it are more annoying than even Jar Jar Binks was in Star Wars. But the game itself (even the free to play part) is of high quality and the world feels cohesive. Everyone in my school played it and we all had a blast! So maybe you think i'm crazy for putting this on my list but basically, fuck you! Haters gonna hate!
9. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
I have a lot of conflicting feelings about oblivion. For all the times i got stuck in the geometry while riding a horse, accedently killed an npc i wasn't supposed to and other moments that broke the illusion... also the world could look really generic... Man, there's a lot of bad stuff in this game! But when it's awesome, it's really awesome :). The moments you sneak up on an npc, kill him for the dark brotherhood, and then disappear in the night... Or just simple things like riding a horse and look at the beautiful landscape, seeing the sun go down and go to an inn to sleep, then wake up and choose what adventures will happen that day. You can almost try everything you want and most of the time the game will back you up, and that is why i put it on this list. (also check out the mods for this game, they fix a lot of stuff :p )
Guns, guns, guns, guns, and... killing undead monks... with guns. That's what Painkiller was about. It featured some of the most creative and satisfying weapons i've ever seen in a game. Stake gun, anyone? A rifle that shoots electric ninja stars?! And did i mention the game had a combined chain gun AND rocket launcher?! It also had the only metal music i've ever tolerated. When you just want to relax and kill of thousands of horrible monsters, painkiller is the game you want to play.