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The 25 best PC games of 2012

Looks like it will be a vintage year for PC owners...

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21. South Park: The Game


At first glance, you might be tempted to imagine that South Park: The Game sounds like one of those dire cash-ins designed to act as a form of merchandising for some movie, which inevitably sour or love of the entertainment properties whose coat-tails they cling onto. But THQ's take on the adventures of everybody's favourite potty-mouthed kids is different. It's going to be a proper RPG, in which you play a new kid in town, who must befriend Kyle, Stan, Cartman and Kenny, and fend off a serious of (hopefully preposterous) threats to the Midwestern town. Trey Parker and Matt Stone are heavily involved. Let's hope it features a swearing engine, extra XP for every time somebody kills Kenny and giant Barbra Streisand and Robert Smith mechs as bosses.

22. Spec Ops: The Line


This third-person, squad-based tactical shooter published by 2K Games looks set to be a quality effort. Set in a post-apocalyptic Dubai (how could they tell?), Spec Ops: the Line puts you in control of a Delta Force team. It promises to "Challenge your morality", and the destroyed Dubai setting, with its implied criticism of Mammon-worship, ought to strike a chord in these straitened times. Likely to possess a tad more intelligence than the average console game, while providing an agreeable dose of PC based military action.

23. The Witcher 2


Yes we know it's coming to Xbox 360 this year but you'll also find that the Witcher 2 gets a massive content update on PC FREE OF CHARGE for existing fans - you can't say those CD Projeckt guys aren't good to you. With a fantastic looking new CGI intro movie from BAFTA nominee Tomasz Baginski and hours of new in-game cut scenes and cinematics to enhance the story, there's also up to four hours of new missions, with new characters, new locations and a whole bunch of new Witcher action. What amounts to a massive free DLC update for one of the standout PC RPGs, fans should be tucking into this one with full force and firing up the Witcher 2 for another bash this April.

24. Tomb Raider


In recent years, though still one of the games world's most popular icons, poor old Lara Croft had been let down rather by the rather tired games constructed around her. So - you guessed it - it's franchise-reboot time. And Square-Enix appears to have done a pretty decent job of giving Lara her mojo back. This time around, we get to play as a 21-year-old Lara, fresh out of university, who ends up getting shipwrecked on an island off Japan. Starting with literally nothing, and suspended from her ankles in a cave, she first has escape to the surface of the island, using whatever comes to hand, such as a flaming torch. There she finds a rather battered Captain Roth, from the ship she was on, and after reviving him, he becomes her mentor, helping her develop the climbing, shooting and adventuring skills which were to the fore in the pre-reboot games. Imaginative stuff, all conveyed in a much grittier style than previously. For the first time in years, we'll have to take Tomb Raider seriously again.

25. XCOM


XCOM sparked some controversy when it first saw the light of day at last year's E3, attracting opprobrium for apparently sharing nothing but a name with its illustrious turn-based, 1990s predecessor. But whether or not you think it should be allowed to use the name, XCOM looks like a pretty interesting proposition. It's a tactical first-person shooter, which is heavy on the strategy, under development by 2K Marin of BioShock 2 fame. It resembles the X-Files if it was set in 1940s America, with you desperately trying to keep the lid on a pretty widespread alien invasion - and having to use considerable ingenuity, plus agents endowed with all manner of special powers, in order to prevail.

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