Games the shaped a generation: PC

12. Far Cry
Crytek | Ubisoft | 2004

An open-ended FPS that plays out on an archipelago of luscious tropical islands, with a thick smattering of brilliant vehicles

What made it so great?
Freedom of approach. Far Cry always lets you scope out the area you've got to infiltrate, get through or blow up, and the game's extraordinary view-distance and electronic tagging binoculars made this fun in itself. Once you've got the lay of the land, you've typically got as long as you like to circle the island by boat, drive through the jungle in a jeep, or creep stealthy through the brush by foot, picking the precise moment, angle and force of your attack.

Stealth is one area that often gets overlooked in the fuss over Far Cry's stunning good looks - even today - and explosive action. And yet many of the game's finest moments come when you're stalking through dense undergrowth beneath a ceiling of palm fronds and suddenly realize there are five other men in the jungle with you. Movement is tough to spot among the swaying leaves, but the second you notice it you instinctively hit the deck, carefully scan for your assailants through the vegetation, then break out the silenced MP5 and set about dealing with them one by one.

Get ready to play
Set the whopping 1.4 patch downloading while you install and start pondering this: if a tree falls in the jungle and no one hears it, turn your speakers up.

Been there, done that?
This sounds like a job for Cate Archer, super-spy! Her tirelessly inventive second outing, Monolith's FPS spectacular No One Lives Forever 2, makes a worthy alternative to Crytek's violent vacation in Micronesia.