Millions of people fell in love with the customizable suburbanites of The Sims, which became the best-selling PC game of all time. How could veteran designer Will Wright top that? Answer: by showing just how adorably complex these creatures can be.
In Sims 2 (for PC; $49.99), your characters grow older, pass on their genes to their kids, even die. They have life goals (like raising a family or raking in cash) and short-term aspirations (like making a new friend or buying a new refrigerator). You can make your characters look like just about anyone (one gamer got 15 minutes of Internet fame by creating Sim Bush and Sim Kerry housemates). With the click of a button, you can even record the important moments of their lives as a movie file.
Like the original, Sims 2 also features Wright's trademark humor, such as when the Grim Reaper shows up bearing a clipboard and a cell phone. Play this game out over many Sim generations, and you get as sublime a sense of the whole human comedy as any art form can give.
Ideal for: Character-focused gamers who like to laugh
Next Rome: Total War