The Best PC Games Of 2009

While the overall Game of the Year debates are the main draw this week, we're also handing out some other awards. Like these, for the best PC games of 2009.

Since no PC game was in with a shot at the big prize, I felt like honouring the best of them in here. And when I say PC games, I mean it: only PC exclusives are in the running. So no Left 4 Dead 2, Borderlands and Dragon Age, no Batman: Arkham Asylum, DiRT 2 or Modern Warfare 2.

I loved them all, but these aren't the "Best PC Game That Also Turned Up On Xbox 360 And PS3 In 2009" awards. They're the "Best PC Games Of 2009" awards, which I feel is the least this oft-overlooked and under-appreciated market deserves.



Leaving aside pretentious notions of "games as art", Machinarium was the most endearing game I played all year, regardless of the platform. It requires almost nothing from you in terms of hardware, running as it does on Flash, but there's more atmosphere in this little indie adventure game than you'll find in any $US10 million blockbuster.

(Read our Machinarium review)


Dissenters will say it's simply a Diablo clone, and they're 100% correct. It is. But it's a clone with so much love for (and insight into how to improve) the source material that it's more than capable of being remembered in its own right. Developers Runic also deserve credit for having the prescience to actually give Diablo fans what they wanted - another Diablo - something Blizzard seem years away from doing.

The best part, though? The colours. Those vibrant, delicious colours.

(Read our Torchlight review)


Empire: Total War

Surprising, small-time hits are all well and good, but my favourite PC game of 2009 is anything but. Empire: Total War is a behemoth of a game, one of the last remaining series on the platform able to both provide a true "PC gaming" experience (menus! so many menus!) and bring with it the kind of big-budget production values we expect from the latest hardware.

Empire represents a near-perfect blend of real-time battles and turn-based strategic management. It's not without its problems - poor performance and siege pathfinding chief among them - but the way it makes controlling a vast empire so intuitive and accessible easily overcomes these shortcomings.

It's a testament to the game's pull that, nearly a year on from release, I'm still playing it. Every chance I get.

(Read our Empire: Total War review)

I'm aware I've left some reasonably big titles off this list, like Relic's excellent Dawn of War II, which I feel didn't quite make the cut compared to these three. So let us know below, what do you guys think was the best PC game of 2009? Know I will not accept "Team Fortress 2", even though the game's bevy of updates tempted me...


    Why do people even buy L4D2 on the Xbox? The Xbox literally chokes on medium graphics settings and given the twitch nature of the game the controller is another flaw.

    Shame on you people.

      Not everybody have an adequate computer to play L4D2.. so essentially, buying the console edition is the best way to play. so yar.. don't be shameful for other who are less "fortunate"

      $110 dollars for a game that's gauranteed to run on your console.

      That's why.

      I used to be a PC gamer, I still would be if I could afford to. But I'd rather spend my money on games than hardware... which will keep needing updating and if I buy a game for PC and my system can't handle it... I'm not allowed to return it, so there's even more money down the tube.

        "if I buy a game for PC and my system can’t handle it… I’m not allowed to return it, so there’s even more money down the tube."

        Why do you buy games without checking the system requirements or playing the demo (if available)?

        $110 dollars? If you mean AUD... wow. Try Steam? Play-asia? IMO just buy a PC that's way faster than a console (AUD$1500, inc nice monitor) once off, then use that for years. Plus then you have a mouse and keyboard... :D

        And you can sell your old parts on ebay when you upgrade.

        Anyway :) each to their own.

          And yeah if you absolutely can't afford to cash buy a beast in the first place, quite understandable.

        I upgraded my computer for about $600 almost three years ago. It has 4 gig ram, Q6600 quad core processor and an 8800GT graphics card. At the time, this was the same price as a new PS3.

        Three years later, my computer runs most games on highest graphics, with only the incredibly graphic intense (such as MW2) causing me to slide it down from 'highest' to 'high'.

        Please stop bitching about 'BEING A PC GAMER IS TEN THOUSAND TIMES MORE EXPENSIVE THAN BEING A CONSOLE GAMER' just because you don't know enough about computers to do your own upgrades, and shop around for parts.

          I'd be surprised if you got 4GB RAM, a Q6600 and a 8800GT for $600 3 years ago, I've got the old price-lists here. You didn't have to upgrade your motherboard or OS or power supply or hard drive at all? What CPU did you have before?

          It is more expensive to be a PC gamer than a console gamer, whichever way you slice it. You can pick up a 360 arcade for $199 now, you can barely buy a graphics card for that. I love my PC, but it is an indulgence.

      "Shame on you people"

      Excuse me, but given that PC gaming as be made a train wreck by copy protection, I see consoles as a good bet.

      Seriously, I have had cases where I could not play games because the copy protection was (you had better be sitting down for this) incompatable with my Toshiba DVD drive!

      Furthermore, when I buy a game, I want to go home and play it. I should not have to spend hours verifying that my hardware, operating system and drivers are in correct alignment to play the thing.

        And yet, Mass Effect2 for the 360 was available online (pirated) before the PC version.

          Avaliable, yes. But I would not think anyone would take that path. Not with the size of Microsoft's ban hammer.

      You need to stop getting mad at other people for their choices, you'll probably live longer.

      i did because there was alot of stuff about steam still blocking your game from imports and stuff so i just went ahead with the 360 version. its not as bad as you think, its quite nice playing it on the console and it also has a 360 turn for one of the bumpers which helps in the absolute extreme situations. Over all im just happy i can play it with gore and because of the live integration, and friends system. Sure itd probarbly rate it maybe .2 % less out of ten compared to the pc version but it doesnt make it a bad game at all! Im hooked I play it every night after work!

      after being in here quite a while now I've come to believe that Plmko is a twat.

    It seems silly to avoid games that are obvioulsy PC games, like Dragon Age, that have been ported onto consoles to sell (for reasons outlined by James above).

    Supreme Commander being another example of this.

    The thing is, you don't need to upgrade your PC as often as you used to. Games don't tend to push the technological barrier anymore. An average rig would last you a good number of years. Dare I say it'll last you as long as your console will and let you do extra stuff to boot.

    But hey, I guess, that extra 200-500 bucks you don't spend can do something else.

      we havent ne3eded to upgrade pc for a while because its still the same console generation and loads of the popular pc games these days are also on console.

      When we get ps4, that will be a time to upgrade computers i bet.

      Thank you. Although it has become a bleeding obvious fact over the years, i hate to see "I use to be a PC gamer..." I could never get over a mouse and keyboard and you don't need the perfect rig. Hell, my old computer relic (Kindly donated by a old friend) was fixed up and even got supreme commander running on the thing! Its a simple 7900 gs grapics card and some old 3.2gightz processor. Although i built it from old scraps lying around it could be put together well under $400 from a local tech-market. Here in NSW, newcastle we have computer fair's ever weekend/fortnight. I've seen these parts at a respectable price and they'll run your teamfortress, CS:S and most lan games.

      I'm the type of guy that sighs in disgust at liquid cooling, -30'c machines that run on leds lightshows. You parts are the MOST important. No fancy keyboards, no fancy headphones. I'm using $8 'sheiks' for gods sake. They are perfect sound and closed ear things, mic and all. Build a rig when something new comes out, people will drop the price on obsolete equipment even though it may be a year or so old.

      -Cheers, Chris

      Ironically, the extra 200-500 bucks you would save buying a console over a PC would probably be made up for the fact that PC games are $10 cheaper RRP, and even less if you buy from steam or play-asia (L4D2 was like $40 AUD when steam had it's 25% off sale)

      Stop kidding yourselves, console gamers, the real reason you play consoles is because you are too lazy to research PC upgrades

        I used to be a PC gamer so I know very well how to research PC hardware specifications and requirements.

        I, and any other gamer, know very well that PC games are $10 cheaper. I also happen to know very well what the term insignificant means in a dictionary and that is the *only* was a PC price can be described.

        I also happen to know that with a bit of research one can *import* console games and run them just fine.

        Overall, to say that console gamers are lazy is just over generalisation and does not hold water.

        I always find my console games cheaper than PC titles, except for Steam sales, which are rarely on new games.
        BigW sells most new titles between $68-$88, you'd have to be a sucker to pay retail at Harvey Norman. Forza3 was $78 at BigW and $109 at Harveys.

        It doesn't matter, if you have the money and enjoy PC games go that route, but it doesn't mean people are morons for going consoles. I enjoy sitting on the couch and gaming on the projector more for most games than I do sitting at the desk with the keyboard and mouse. Some games I prefer the PC for, but there are less and less titles that really buzz me, Total War was definitely one I enjoyed on the PC this year.

        I won't generalize others, and I have a perfectly capable gaming computer, but some people just aren't computer hobbyists.

        I console game for the simplicity of it. I just don't have the time to do upgrades, let alone learn how. :/

    i think some of you are being a bit too pretentious, i have a computer that can run almost all games well.

    some games are great for the pc, some are great for consoles, am i getting mass effect 2 for pc... no, im getting it for xbox, why?, because i enjoy the controller, i enjoy playing it on the tv, and i enjoy a console gaming experience.

    Does that mean i think consoles are better than pcs, nope, but sometimes its easier to sit down and insert a disc and go straight away than deal with pc issues.

    Also i think its unfair to say that the xbox has sub par graphics and performance than a pc, as those pcs have surely set you back more than the curret rrp for the xbox, i.e. graphic cards alone can set you back 300-500 depending on how hardcore you go.

    I'm not sure if I even played a PC-exclusive game this year. There seems increasingly less reason to do PC-exclusives other than MMORPGs; a game like Dragon Age is far better suited to PC than to console, but why miss out on all the extra sales of the PS3 and X360 versions?

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