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Strategy Games of the Half-Year 2007

June 29th, 2007 by Troy Goodfellow · 5 Comments · Awards

The year so far hasn’t been rife with awesome, that’s for sure. Where last year I had Rise of Legends, GalCiv 2 and Battle for Middle Earth II in my top three, this year I have to make do with much slimmer pickings.

As usual, I don’t consider games I haven’t played or haven’t played very long, which means that Supreme Commander and War Front: Turning Point don’t have a chance. Ultimately, I decided to pass on SupCom because nothing I read made it sound like a game I would spend much time on and a colleague told me that it would appeal to the game design wonk within me, but not the gamer. C’est la vie. I’m a little sorry I haven’t found time for War Front because I like goofy games.

Also, expansions are excluded unless they make major changes to the core game or stand on their own as significant titles.

Honorable mentions for Commander: Europe at War and Ancient Warfare: Punic Wars – two good wargames that don’t have a lot of staying power, but do what they set out to do with style and simplicity.

Number 3: Europa Universalis III (Paradox) – A lot of Paradox fans love to complain about this game, me included. But the core design is so strong and improvements so noticeable that it’s hard to hold a grudge. I’ve come back to this game over and over again because so much of it works. Yes, it has less color than EU2. And yes, some of the functionality is gone. I still like it a lot, though. And, as I said, it’s been a so-so six months.

Number 2: Galactic Civilizations II: Dark Avatar (Stardock) – OK, it’s an expansion. But it’s bigger and better than the original, which took second place last year. Some of the improvements are so obvious that you want to wring a few necks for not including them the first time around. The interface is better, the tech tree clearer, the planet colonization less hectic and the campaign passable. With this game, Stardock has exorcised the ghost of Masters of Orion; this is now the ultimate 4x space conquest game.

Number 1: Command and Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars (EA) – Damn you, EA. Again you dominate the first half of the year with a franchise sequel. And one with little to no real innovation. But I have to choose the game that has given me the most joy so far, and this is it. C&C 3 works because it is comfortable in its own skin and embraces its own heritage. Skirmish games manage the near impossible feat of merging the typical messy brawl of a first generation RTS with the unit/counter-unit/superpower chess match that has come to epitomize this generation. This game is a reminder that formula has its place in game design and that sometimes small changes (the Scrin, for example) can add freshness to that formula.


5 Comments so far ↓

  • Dave Long

    War Front Turning Point is a measly $5 at http://www.gogamer.com right now. I threw that in the basket with a copy of Act of War: Direct Action for another $10 since I never played that.

    My review copy of War Front never worked correctly. Time to find out if the box version will.

  • Scott R. Krol

    A real-time, resource collecting title ranking higher than classic 4X turn-based gaming? My eyes, they burn!! ;)

  • Troy

    I try not to get too wrapped into genre distinctions when evaluating what games amuse me. It seems a little constipated. ;)

  • JonathanStrange

    I have all three games and while I would rank them in reverse order for ambition, I also would admit that C&C Tiberium Wars has been by far the most fun. Just amusing gaming fun. I just look at GalCiv2 and say to it “Why can’t YOU be more fun dammit?”

  • Krupo

    Since a glorious hard drive failure my gaming has been dictated by “what will actually install in Vista.”

    The corollary, sadly, is “which CD keys do I still have handy?”

    Oddly enough MTW2 is still in the lead, and despite horrendous driver problems, BF2142… now I’m mixing it up with Supreme Commander, which overcame a VERY nasty Installshield pox which wouldn’t let me install everything. Perhaps the “Games for Windows” certification was the blessing needed to make things work again.