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Gamedaily’s Top Ten RTS Games

September 13th, 2006 by Troy Goodfellow · 10 Comments · Uncategorized

New AOL acquisition Gamedaily has put up yet another list of all time great RTS games, and it’s terrible. Not only does it commit the cardinal sin of throwing the largely turn-based Total War games into the mix, it is a crime against writing and editing – ironic considering Gamedaily editor Chris Buffa’s recent plea for better writing in games journalism. Let us count the things in Greg Atkinson’s article that made my head spin.

Strategy games are a special breed. They take patience, quick wit, and perseverance under stressors to defeat. Definitely not for everyone, but one particular style of strategy game has stood out quite well: the Real-Time Strategy. Though they still require patience, they also are much faster-paced and thus demand even quicker wit, even more cool-headedness. Of these mighty games, there are a few titles which have truly stood out and made the world take notice.

These are the first sentences in the article. I could write a worse introduction, but it’s still too early in the day for that. How many adjectives and descriptors do you need? Patience, by the way, is a killer in RTS; you are better off with measured impatience.

Providing varied and very unique units, an extremely ahead-of-its-time game engine complete with realistic physics, and a very grim but fun storyline, Mythgames (especially Myth II) are either fond memories of are sadly missing from your shelf.

I’m assuming that there is a typo in there somewhere. Maybe more than one.

There are a few games that have headed to space, most notably StarCraft and Homeworld, but each did it a bit differently. Well Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War was no exception.

No exception to what? Being a space game? Being a different space game? Remember, he’s getting paid for this.

The [Total War] series started with Shogun, then headed to Medieval times, finally landing on Rome. There aren’t any three civilizations in history more knowledgeable about combat

What about Assyria? China? Alabama? The Total War civs weren’t chosen because they were knowledgeable about combat. They were chosen because they were cool. And “medieval” is not a civilization. The games are also dubbed “One of the most tactical series of games in history”. Yeah, I don’t know what that adjective is doing there either.

From 1997 to present day, and beyond from the looks of the art book released in the Collectors’ Edition of Age of Empires III, the series has been known for fun.

Unlike all the other series on the list. Which were known for their amazing pole vaulting skills.

There are many that argue TA as the greatest RTS of all time. Then again, there are many that would argue for every game on this list, and probably many others not even present.

Some people think that chocolate is good. Other people think that other flavors are good.

On Rise of Nations, Atkinson wrote:

Not to mention, a whole new game mode “Conquer the World”, which is still one of the greatest inventions in RTS history.

So great that it was, in fact, invented by the people who did the Total War series. (For the record, “left select/right move” is the greatest invention in RTS history.)

I’ll stop because I can’t take anymore.

Knowing my own flaws as a writer, I generally don’t take time to pick apart the work of other people. I rewrite a lot of stuff, generally having two or three false starts on anything. I edit, I remove, I read aloud. And, mostly, editors see little need to rework it unless there is a word count issue. I make mistakes, freely own up to them and make any suggested changes. No writer is so good that they can’t be improved.

And let’s face it, bad writing on the Internet is easier to find than annoying flash ads. Finding bad writing – especially about games – doesn’t take any great detective work or special skills.

But this is an important site – worthy of AOL money – whose editor got very defensive when people criticized his gaming journalism series, written from the wilds of Obvious-stan. And here we have a piece that could use serious, serious editing. The content itself is your typical bland list that is full of the usual suspects. But the writing is woeful. And Buffa’s two big points were “hire better writers” and “hire better editors”.

This is where I would usually tell the physician to heal himself. Or at least read the article before he uploads it.

And by the way, how does an uninspired also ran like Empire Earth become a “runner-up”? The list is bad enough, missing Kohan, Majesty, and Europa Universalis. (Hey, if Total War counts…)


10 Comments so far ↓

  • Natus

    Hmmmmm….you know, if he cheated a bit and folded StarCraft in with the WarCraft series, he could have added the Kohan series. Remove the Total Wars, and pop in EU1 & 2.

    But it’s really easy to do a Top Ten list and then just put “xxxx Series.” That really covers everything (and not all games in a certain series were always very good), practically, except odballs like Majesty and yes, Sacrifice. What else is there, realistically?

    I’ve read too much of Atkinson’s writing. I’m going to go blind myself now.

  • Tom

    I like it when you do criticise bad writing. You should do it more – much more.

  • Gremmi

    Brilliant article. I know my writing skills are utterly dire, but I don’t get paid for it. If I did, I’d probably take the time to proofread. “…Are either fond memories of are sadly missing from your shelf” should become the new phrase for games. Bungie should put it on Halo 3’s box.

  • Justin Fletcher

    Hysterical. A+++++++++! Would read again!

  • xtien

    Thanks for making me laugh today. More importantly, thanks for not making me read the original article.

    Also, I’ve got to chime in with Natus here. It’s cheating just to lump a whole series in as one game. Actually, more to the point, it’s lazy.

    “Some people think that chocolate is good. Other people think that other flavors are good.”

    Still laughing.

  • FastangLX

    I have great skepticism in regards to Mr. Buffa’s ability to write a gaming article, let alone whether or not he actually played any of the games at length. AOL should request their money back.

  • Troy

    “I have great skepticism in regards to Mr. Buffa’s ability to write a gaming article, let alone whether or not he actually played any of the games at length.”

    To be fair to Mr. Buffa, he didn’t write this article, Greg Atkinson did. However, he or one of his under-editors should have given it a thorough proofread before loading to GD.

    Buffa’s no Shakespeare, but he’s not this bad.

  • Kieron Gillen

    Good work.

    And you never ever skewered the Best 10 RTS ever which includes series of games as one game.

    Seriously, you lazy fucking drone: Argue a corner. Shogun, Medieval and Rome are all fundamentally different games. Which one’s best?

    (I mean… if they called Starcraft, “Warcraft: Space”, would you have included it in the same entry? Well, yes, you clearly would. Fucking dolt.)


  • Troy

    The inanity of picking an entire series instead of a game is something that goes beyond Mr. Atkinson. How many top 50/100 lists have you read that will arbitrarily choose to honor either a single game (Civilization 2) or a series (SimCity) on the same list? Next-Gen’s list of the “top 100 selling games” was, in fact, about franchises – probably so they could squeeze more game onto the list.

    Arguing series on a list like this is, I agree, idiotic. But then, you see, the list would be clogged with newer games except for maybe Age of Empires II.

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