Baldur's Gate Series
Few can argue the impact the Baldur's Gate series had on the PC RPG genre. In a time where the market was suffering from a slump, I first heard of the game shortly after high school. The nerdiest nerd I had ever encountered (last name Wakle, no less) slammed a PC game magazine on my desk and urged me with that high pitched, retainer slurping voice of his to read all about this awesome RPG that was coming. I had dismissed it out of hand at the time, not really wanting to show interest and become a nerd by association. I changed my tune a few months later when he brought the Baldur's Gate game box into class. It was expertly packed and loaded with 5 CDs -- the ultimate measure of quality.
It was the deep, resonant narrator's voice that first led me to believe that I was about to play something special. The town criers in Candlekeep hinted at a world far bigger than my own character and the game didn't waste much time before throwing you into it. The story and world building throughout the series was augmented by the D&D license, rather than limited. Same goes for the character creation and party management that managed to maintain the tactical nature of combat while keeping it manageable and fun. Memorable characters with their own demons like Jahira's mourning, Minsc's madness and Aerie's "Love me or want to beat me to death" fragility. Few games can truly withstand the test of still being fun and relevant a decade later, but the Baldur's Gate series is one of them. This is thanks in part to the excellent 2D artwork that holds up far better than old 3D models ever could.
So here's to the Baldur's Gate series! Special thanks to 'anyone' for posting a link to a mod that allows you to play these games and other Infinity Engine titles in glorious widescreen resolutions. Click "Read More" if you want to peruse a few extra shots of the games..