Part of the reason that I'm primarily a PC gamer is because of mods, the sense of reward you get from playing mods like Minerva whilst telling yourself "wait, hang on, this is free?" is great. It's part of the appeal of PC gaming to me.
I've recently downloaded two mods, one of them is the newest version of Pirates, Vikings and Knights. It's a HL2 mod, that runs on the source engine. The game is insane, the premise is great too, get 3 things that never co-existed in the same time period and put them in a game. It's primiarily a melee combat game, which is deeper in the latest release. You can swing your weapon in four different directions, your opponent can anticipate what direction you swing in from your animation and block in the same position (it's a lot harder than it sounds, co-ordinating an attack whilst defending and moving is difficult). There's also some ranged combat, from bows to parrots and some special abilities (The heavy knight can drag his claymore around in a 360 turn, the archer can fire 3 fire arrows for a one hit kill) special abilities can only be performed with a full red bar, which goes up when you inflict damage on your opponents). There are three factions (no second guesses on who they are) and two classes within the factions, all have thier own weapons and special abilities. The game modes seem to encourage all three to duke it out in locations throughout the map, for instance, one is about who controls the most "booties". There are three bases and all have to defend thier treasure chests whilst obtaining the others from the eneimes, the most consistent team who usually has the most chests at thier base win. It leads to funny moments where a pirate will use a flaming barrel and take out around 3-4 guys in one explosion.
The visuals are amazing for a mod on the source engine too, it's easily the best looking source mod out there. The sound is great aswell, all factions have their own war cries, which leads to funny instances where you exchange calls with a teamate whilst slashing them with a cutlass. The spirit of the game encourages this sort of behaviour and it leads to a very fun mod, it's worth a download.
The other one is Insurgency: Modern Infantry Combat (another source mod). I played this from 11:30 pm to 2:00 am straight away, it's intense, immersive and deep. It's very realistic, the original lead designer was in the Canadian army (it shows). It's set in Iraq, you can play as the Iraqi Insurgents or the US troops. Both have different ****s lead by a commander, within the team there are two squads with squad leaders. The realistic nature of the game enhances the experience, it draws you in keeps you alert. You're always aware of the fact that one or two well aimed shots will drop you, so you find yourself peering around the corner with your scope, scanning the landscape before you move, you can't go Rambo here, you have Call of Duty 4 for that.
It's not as good looking as PVK, but it still looks brilliant relative to other mods, because it's currently in the beta phase, there is no AA, but there is HDR and many other affects that still make the game easy on the eye. The gun sounds are amongst the most realistic I've ever heard, they're bloody loud, it's honestly like the gunfire from a news report in Iraq. Don't be tentative about this one, get it now.
I've also downloaded Warsow, but that's for another blog :) (it's a cross between Quakeworld and Jet Set Radio Future), for those who like twitch based shooters, get it before I make a long winded blog about it.