The staff members over at RPG Codex have built upon their previous "RPG of the Decade" article by recognizing what they consider to be the five most notable role-playing games of the past ten years. Starting with #5 and moving up, we have Diablo II, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Gothic II (with Night of the Raven installed), Baldur's Gate II, and, finally, Arcanum. Here is why Troika's very first offering tops the list:
We'd better get this out of the way at the start: The combat is shit and the game's main-plot is a bit linear. Despite that, it was the sheer breadth and depth of choice in Arcanum (at least, more than what you normally get in an RPG) that made us pick this as our number #1 RPG that was released this decade that you really oughta play (if you haven't already that is).
Simply put, Arcanum is a role-playing game that allows you to at least reasonably play the role you choose in some way. You can use Magic (with its over-reliance on the "Harm" spell) or Technology as your primary combat approach or go for a bit of both (if you can work around the consequences). Focus on becoming a superior Technologist and you get to wander around the country-side with your own army of Automatons backing you up. Stick to magic instead and summon creatures to do your bidding or ignore both and simply use your persuasion skills to collect an army of NPC followers along your way... or of course, shun it all and go alone and maybe for some extra fun, even choose to do it as a big, dumb stupid brute.
As for your personal weapon of choice you get to take your pick of axes, swords, firearms and even some decent throwing weapons. Sadly, combat will be a necessity thanks to the game's "OH GOD LET'S JUST STUFF THIS DUNGEON FULL OF MONSTERS" design in some areas but it's really the awesome quests that make Arcanum a worthy Codex pick.
Set in a steam-punk world where Magic and Technology are clashing, it's your standard fantasy fare but with a nice unique twist. Akin to Morrowind, there's lots of stuff to do and a big world to explore but unlike Morrowind, you actually will have some choices to make and those choices will affect some of the things you will be able to do. There are also some really, really, really well-designed quests and an interesting host of characters to meet.