I'm not much of a gamer. I bought a kickass computer for my 3D animation stuff so I thought, what they hey, I might as well try some games out. I used to play Counter Strike and I enjoyed the online stuff. I know it'd get obsolutely lit up these days, but I'd probably still have fun. Are there other games that are really enjoyable for beginner-intermediate people like me? I'd like online, but it doesnt have to be. Age of Empires still around? I'm not into Role Play Games or Warcraft though.
FarCry is pretty fun and is not really demanding on resources.
Civilization 4 is pretty good. It has some nice animation too.
Galactic Civilization 2 is very good, it has the best AI I've ever came across in a strategy game. The AI doesn't "cheat" like in other strategy games (Civ 4 for example). It's almost like playing against another player and can be quite humbling at harder settings for an experienced player.
Excellent Value, and will keep you busy for hours, then some more as everything but HL2 has developer commentary which makes replaying everything a whole lot more interesting. There are also a fair few online multiplayer games that use the engine, so getting the hang of these games will help for those. TF2 is included in the package, and is that new that there's more of a level playing field than something like BF2, where existing players have so much experience they make it difficult for new players to join in (Unless you play coop, where there's better teamwork, and experienced players give you more help than headshots.)
Try Age of Empires III its a new games of the series and is very good, or Supreme Commander for the stratagie type, but if you liked counter strike you will love Battlefield 2142 its an online First Person Shoter and probably one of the best to play online, and try Bioshock, is probably the best game that came out this year until now, or should i say until crysis is out!!;-)
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I was in the same boat and opted for Orange Box. I think you will really love Team Fortress 2. You don't have to be an expert to have a blast playing that game and I think as you pick up skills while playing, you will be able to apply them in othere FPS. There is a great mix of veterans and newbs online at all times and many character classes to toy with. Plus, I think you will appreciate the cartoonish style graphics. People have had lots of fun with them.
also, the orange box has portal, which despite its' short length, is, to me, THE BEST game ever (it was just Too funny, the gameplay was pretty good to, but I just loved the fact it screws with your head so succesfully )
If you haven't played any Half Life 2 then the orange box is an insane value. Supreme commander is the supreme commander of any strategy game but is not for beginners in the genre. I with chew you up if your not ready to really get into it.
All other suggestions sound good.
Galactic Civilications is a turn based, much slower strategy game with extremely poor tech tree mechanics. I had no fun with it. Its an acquired taste i think.