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Strategy Preview – First Quarter 2009

January 1st, 2009 by Troy Goodfellow · 4 Comments · Preview

Way back in the Golden Age of FoS, I did monthly previews of what strategy games were coming out. Often there were only two or three so the posts were kind of empty.

Still, I think these sorts of posts are useful, so I’ll quarterly posts even if that means I will be including games that slip from one month to the next. I’ll try to include comments where appropriate though. Here they are – in alphabetical order since many of these dates are vague. If no date is given, it means some time in the next three months.

Anno 1404 (Ubisoft) – March I’ve never been a big Anno guy. The series is very German, by which I mean it is very fussy and heavy on the micromanaging of one point here and one point there. You see this in a lot of European building/commerce games and it appeals to a very specific personality type. I’ve been told that things are a little looser now in Anno world, so I may give this one a shot if only because it is supposed to be vaguely Middle Eastern – a nice change of pace.

BattleForge (EA/EA Phenomic) – This is an online card based fantasy themed RTS. You have cards sort of like Magic the Gathering or Pox Nora and then play them straight on the battlefield. I have no idea how this is supposed to work, but there is a tree guy who shoots leaves out of his back. I think they are sharp leaves. If you pre-order you can get into the beta. Then you can tell me if this makes any sense at all.

Codename Panzers: Cold War (Atari/Innoglow) – February 9 – This was being developed by Stormregion, the Hungarian studio behind the other games in the Codename Panzers series. Sometime last year the development was moved to Innoglow, fellow countrymen but beyond that the relationship isn’t clear. Stormregion’s site is down and Innoglow’s is just a placeholder. So all we know is that a new game is coming out, but it’s the Cold War now. I doubt this will make the very specific target date.

Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 (EA) – March 25 – This is the PS3 version of last year’s most disappointing game.

Commander in Chief (2009) – (IGS/Eversim) – January 20 – Released last year as Geo-Political Simulator, this is a reissue/refit timed to take advantage of the inauguration of a new American president. I found GPS to be pretty boring. I am still waiting for the next Hidden Agenda or Shadow President.

Dawn of Fantasy (Lighthouse/Reverie) – A fantasy RTS/RPG that will try a lot of new things. Units that can mount and dismount is nothing new, but character emotions? climbing? swimming as a natural skill? It will dabble in an MMO mode as well has having an elaborate single player campaign. Most of the screenshots are scenes of people on walls, so I guess there will be cities to conquer. Or at least burn.

Demigod (Stardock/Gas Powered Games) – February – I’ll admit to being captivated by this game from first screenshots. There are some RPG elements, but it’s a basic game of territorial controls as far as I can tell. Your army will be periodically reinforced provided you don’t lose the sources of those reinforcements. Then you destroy a town center to win. The games are centered around the demigod units, some of which are meant for fighting and some of which are meant for support.

Disciples III: Renaissance (Akella/.dat) – Turn based fantasy classic returns with a prettier, grittier game. You level up your heroes, collect magic stuff and expand your empire. Some franchises just won’t die.

East India Company (Lighthouse/Nitro) – With Empire: Total War treading some of this same ground, EIC will have a lot of trouble getting a hearing from gamers who would usually be drawn to this military/commercial strategy game. I have no expectations that it will be anything more than average, but I do hope to be surprised.

Elven Legacy (Paradox/1c) – This is a sequel to Fantasy Wars. It just goes to show that everyone gets a sequel.

Empire Deluxe (Graffiti) – March 31 – A DS version of the seminal 4x game. With so many good strategy games on the DS, I wonder if anyone will be in the mood for a game so basic in its design and whose biggest appeal is nostalgia.

Empire: Total War (Sega/Creative Assembly) – March – I’ve written a lot about ETW already. One of the two big titles from Q1, and probably the single “can’t miss” on the list.

Empires of Steel (Battlefront/Atomicboy) – A light strategy game that looks a lot like a 1994 shareware adaptation of Empire. Not necessarily one to watch.

Freaky Creatures (Abandon Interactive) – Make creatures and set them loose in combat. You develop skills, spend upgrade points. It’s Spore for people who like dog fighting, I guess.

Halo Wars (Microsoft/Ensemble) – March 3 – An RTS designed for the Xbox 360 and Ensemble’s last hurrah. It’s more about combat than building and will hopefully be approachable for people like me who have no real interest in Halo Pre-History.

Jagged Alliance (Empire Interactive/Cybron) – February 17 – Porting this to the DS is a great idea.

Majesty 2 (Paradox/1C) – I have a bad feeling about this. The screenshots show nothing especially inspiring and there hasn’t been a lot of news about how development is progressing. It’s in 3D and there have been some changes to character classes, but otherwise nada.

Men of War (1C/Best Way) – Play soldier in WW2 in this sequel to 2004’s Soldiers: Heroes of World War II, a game that I had the good fortune not to review when it seemed like I was reviewing every WW2 RTS out there. There are a lot of units and a lot of settings in the sequel. Do we need 50 different units in an RTS, let alone 50 new ones?

Mytran Wars (Deep Silver) – So an RPG or an action game or a strategy game? It’s for the PSP, which means I probably won’t find out for myself. But it lets you research tech and use mechs to kill enemies.

New Play Control! Pikmin! (Nintendo) – March – Pikmin adapted for the Wii controllers. Yeah, this will work fine.

Nobunaga’s Ambition: Iron Triangle (Koei) – January 27 – Your typical Koei overload in a thrilling historical setting for the PS2. 1000 historical characters, lots of new weapons and techniques to research, almost 100 cities on a 3D map.

Officers (TriSynergy/3AGames/Game Factory) – February – For all the complaining about World War 2 strategy games, it’s worth noting that almost all of them come from the former Soviet bloc. Officers is emphasizing size, with miles of terrain to cover and up to 1500 units on screen. Big battles are the point. It’s already nine months late, and it even had a demo in 2006. So I have serious doubts that it will make any target in the next little while.

Offshore Tycoon (Valcon) – Light business sim for the Wii about fishing. I’m sure it will be very cute and sell more than 25 copies.

Perimeter II: New Earth (KDV/Strategy First) – The poor man’s SupCom gets a sequel. The plot?

The Harkback has lost faith in Spirits, throw off their rule and decided to head back for the Old Earth, not believing its death. They refused to believe in death of their planet. Both sides took the final step on their way, but the chain has enclosed and mortal enemies entered the same planet face to face.

I have no idea what that means, either.

Sims 3 (EA) – February 20 – The other really big strategy/sim game of the year. Judging from this month’s PCGamer article, it looks like to be a big shift away from micromanaging and towards character development. People would rather recreate Gossip Girl than play Bladder Cop. This is a day one buy for me, unless a nice fairy princess at EA can get me a review copy sooner. And even then I’d pay for it. (EA’s Sims‘ review copies expire.)

Stormrise (Sega/Creative Assembly) – March – For both the PS3 and Xbox 360, this RTS is all about battlefield tactics in a 3D world. Two factions with different units and skills fight it out in an urban environment. It’s one of the better looking RTSes on the way, though I have some serious doubts about how well it will handle in the wild. It has an almost Gears of War aesthetic, and also emphasizes cover and weapon choice but from a command perspective. I am looking forward to it more than Halo Wars probably because it is so unique and radical in how it expects the player to use his/her units.

Theatre of War 2: North Africa 1943 (Battlefront/1C) – The new videos are pretty slow moving, it looks better than the original ToW.

Tom Clancy’s EndWar (UbiSoft) – March 2 – Now console RTSes are getting moved to the PC. It’s like men biting dogs or something.

War Leaders: Clash of Nations (V2Play/Enigma) – February – This has been in development forever. Imagine a Total War game; turn based campaign (“manager”) mode with a RTS battle engine. It’s a nice idea, but the development history here doesn’t give me a lot of confidence that it will see the light of day or enough promotion to make it a hit.

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II (THQ/Relic) – Word is that they are leaning more heavily on the role playing side this time, which will be an interesting change of pace for Relic. They do great work, so this is a big game for a lot of people I know. I never really got into the first DoW, but Company of Heroes is still the best RTS of the last three years. So I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

World in Conflict: Soviet Assault (Ubisoft/Massive) – When this multiplatform mission pack/expansion was dropped by Activision/Blizzard, it could have spelled the end for the WiC franchise. Ubisoft picked it up, but the troubled corporate history does make me worry. World in Conflict was a good half-game – great online Counterstrike type RTS with a pretty lame campaign and no skirmish worth a damn – but it looked great and brought some new ideas to the genre. Fingers crossed that Soviet Assault comes out soon.


4 Comments so far ↓

  • Scott R. Krol

    In regards to Empire Deluxe the answer for at least this one gamer is a resounding YES, I shall be in the mood. Granted, I’m one of those who still has the original on my PC. ED for me is one of those games of the “if I was stranded on a desert island” type. It’s absolutely beautiful in its simplicity, and so easy to get sucked into. And yes, there is the nostalgia factor going on, although it is probably different than what you’d expect (evoked not from a simpler time of PC strategy titles, but more from the reason I purchased the game and the group of folks who I used to play it with, along with all those QQP games).

    And I will also say that I’m hoping Empires of Steel is just as enjoyable.

  • Krupo

    Almost done my Teutonic Knights campaign, getting ready for E:TW! Happy New Year Troy!

    I thought the WiC campaign was fun though… :p


  • Dirk

    First, really appreciate your site Troy, thanks for the good work!

    This sort of a list would be a lot more usable with some subcategories, such as “Can’t Miss”, “I’m Optimistic”, “We’ll See” and “Not Holding My Breath” (these are likely not the right labels, but trying to capture the spirit of the idea). Having all of the games listed in Alpha order makes the post hard to digest, or to come back to re-reference things of interest with any kind of a cogent mental model.

    Keep up the good work!

  • Troy


    Thanks for the comment. You are right that there a million better ways to do this. I mostly wanted to get it done before I bolted off to New York for a few days. Plus, I know very little about most of these games beyond the PR stuff.

    And don’t worry too much about the re-referencing. Anything worthy of comment good or ill will pop-up again.

    Still, your criticisms are very valid, and I’ll keep them in mind for any future lists.