Game most played at the moment: Civilization 4
Game most wanted at the moment: Portal 2
See, here's the deal. I've played Civ since it was newborn. I remember when it was two Civs to a color and you got color slots rather than Civ slots, when Barbarians were red and everything was glorious pixels.
Civilization 2/4 continued that glorious tradition. I skipped 3 as I was in the middle of my RTS/Console gaming teenage phase when the testosterone was high and the patience was none. Quite thankful that's long done.
Civilization 5 isn't Civ. It's a good perhaps even great strategy game but it's not Civ. It's hard thing to put one's finger on. It's not like Master of Orion III, which destroyed my faith in even series quality (I'd been highly spoiled with good luck and gaming taste up til then). The flaws aren't hideous or glaring. It's a little slow and it's a little too streamlined but there's nothing "wrong" with the game. It just doesn't appeal to me. It's a very pretty game and it's a very nicely put together game but for some reason I just don't see the point. Perhaps it's the city states, perhaps it's the lack of stacks though to me that's a huge improvement. Perhaps it's ranged bombardment but Alpha Centauri had that and it still felt like part of the Civ sequence.
I think it comes down to some mythic combination of qualities. Perhaps much as building an empire to stand the test of time is more an art than a science, so too I think Civ is art over science.
To me, Alpha Centauri was the high point, the standard by which all others would be measured. It was an ineffable thing, a long, hard stare into the eyes of the gaming gods and a brazen "Your Move". Civilization 5 doesn't look the gods in the eyes. It sits among them and perhaps still has some spark of divinity left but it does not breath the spark of absolute devotion into the once ardent acolyte.
Valve on the other hand, I've not lost faith in. I know they will deliver as all truly great game companies do, "when it's done", the Blizzard Creed, taken to heart by others who are truly daring, stupid or just that good. Blizzard may not be crazy innovative but they know how to make a consistently good product that appeals in general to fans of all stripes of previous games. I can understand Valve's schedule slip, they don't want Episode 3 to be Starcraft: Ghost (Note to games companies, avoid titles that include references to infinity or dead beings in your titles.)
Portal 2, I am looking forward to intensely. I loved Portal 1. It was a solid lesson in how you build a game. Particularly the Valve method of that type of design. Very much a physics toy disguised as a game with a solid coat of shiny paint, an awesome story and characters despite being nearly non-existent. When you can carry a game solely on a silent protagonist, a pair of levels worth of cutesy turrets, and a gloriously funny psychotic computer, you've done some things very, very well.
So here's the lesson from this I think, find a good game with some unknowable spark of pure genius. Play the heck out of it. Understand it to its core in ways you can't describe. If you can, lasting greatness is achieved by that game for you. If the game aggregates to that, then perhaps it can be called, objectively and truly, timeless. Because sometimes you find that spark when you least expect it. I expected it for Civ 5 and it wasn't there. I expected Portal to be worth while but it was and is magic to its very core.