When the ESRB was established to rate and label video games in 1994, many thought it was the start of something horrible, a censorship sticker slapped on the face of a burgeoning art form. But, as the catalyst for the whole mess – Mortal Kombat – found out, there was something to the sectioning off of games by age level. And it seemingly gave the giving companies free reign to do whatever they wanted in a game as long as they were okay with that MA rating. Of course the final say comes down to parents on whether or not the label matters, and generally it tends not to. The sales of MA games are still some of the highest in the industry and the violence level continuously increases. To this day, the only mainstream game labeled with the AO sticker was the hackable version of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas containing the Hot Coffee sex scene. To which the game companies nod their heads, point noted – violence is okay, sex is not.
PC gaming is built around the first person shooter. It’s bloody, it’s violent, and it’s always cutting edge. There are dozens of amazing shooter options for the PC going back 10 or more years and that’s not even all of the best MA games available. The best MA rated games for the PC is a hard task because there are just too many and generally when there are too many it’s a matter of choosing my personal favorites, so I cut out the middle man and here are the best of the best.
Half Life 2 – Half Life gave us so much of what we know in the modern first person shooter, and Half Life 2 made it all as good as possible. This is one of those games that manages to accomplish so many things in almost every arena. From freely interactive environments to the seemless transition of maps, to the upgrade to CS that we all wanted to so badly, the second chapter in the Half Life saga is the only way to play as Freeman. If you think you’re missing something, go back and play again.
Unreal Tournament – The ultimate online shooter. That’s the only point. You go online and deathmatch, and it’s never more fun than with Unreal tournament. The weapons are bigger, the physics more outrageous and the hours you’ll spend taking out some guy in Ireland are well worth the effort. This was the original deathmatch game and everything that Halo 2 does for us now on Live is because of it.
Diablo II – It’s not a shooter? What? Diablo II has to be on this list though. As you travel into the bowels of hell to take on Diablo himself, you know the violence is going to be intense and the bloodshed outrageous. Why else would you play the game? Diablo II was one of those perfect point and clickers that even now 7 years later is on my desktop. Here’s hoping they actually get around to a Diablo III someday.