Yeah, I know the title sounds a little over sensational and that the list probably won’t be thorough but I’ll take my shot at it anyways. So, basically here’s a compilation of 10 strategy games that for some reason or another changed the course of history. They might have started a trend, some of them are still being played and all of them should take hardcore gamers back into nostalgia’s field. Be it for their gameplay, their innovative features, their groundbreaking concepts or their level of addiction, here are the 10 titles from the strategy genre that will be remembered for years and years to come.
Oh, and one more thing before I begin: no, there’s no Age of Empires here. I know I’ll be utterly hated and totally despised for this, but I certainly feel like there are other strategy games worth including before AOE. Sorry and I patiently wait your rage-filled comments.
10 – Rome: Total War
Although the pc game Shogun: Total War introduced us to controlling massive armies in a realtime strategy game, we’d have to wait until the third installment of the Total War series to see its full potential shine in front of us. Rome: Total War is the perfect example of an incredibly well-developed game in which the player immerses himself in a distant land and confronts some of the most ferocious enemies he’ll ever face. The astonishing level of detail of units and structures, the incredible audios included in the title and the challenges you had to confront are enough to put this amazing game in the tenth spot.
9 – Heroes of Might & Magic III: The Restoration of Erathia
For its turn-based gameplay, its 8 completely unique races, its countless heroes, maps and quests, its impressive and grandiloquent story and for having kept us in front of the computers for years, Heroes of Might & Magic III: The Restoration of Erathia takes the 9th position. Although many modern gamers might find it boring and dated, HoMM III was definitely the perfect combination of action and strategy and its huge customization alternatives made it possible to play with it almost forever without running out of options.
8 – Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines
When I got Commandos back in 1998, I was bolted to my chair. In a videogame scene filled with strategy games that were looking to become the genre’s next big thing, Commandos appeared silently to turn into a classic almost instantly. The idea of gathering six different soldiers (each of them with distinctive skills) and throw them behind enemy lines to see how were you going to lead them to their objective is still brilliant. The challenges required careful planning and the missions increased their difficulty to unheard of levels, which resulted in hours of thinking. And although the franchise couldn’t surpass the success of the first release, Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines will remain as one of the best strategy games.
7 – Populous
Let’s go back (real back) in time to the birth of one of the strategy games’ subgenre: the year is 1989 and the newly released title is called Populous. This game put you in a deity’s role from where you had to take care of your people through direct divine intervention. The final objective: to defeat the opposing deities and expand your civilization so everyone could see how great God were you. If you haven’t played Populous and you looked it right now, you probably are baffled by its poor graphics. But back in the day this was THE strategy game and the proof for that is that it remains an inspirations for hundreds of newer titles.
Many strategy games focus their attention in building a cultural society that thrives upon technological developments. Not Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War. Although you’ll find city and unit management this game totally shines when it all comes down to battle. The combats take place with the goriest of actions, something we don’t see in this type of games very frequently. Besides, it was the first videogame ever to adjust to the Warhammer 40k setting and, though it may not replicate it, it surely respects it.
The maturation of the Warcraft ethos was to be found in the third installment of the franchise. In Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, Blizzard took the elements from the first two games of the series and redesigned them completely, with some of the lessons learned from having worked in Starcraft. There were two new races added to the main of the first titles, the story of the game was more obscure and captivating (and it progressed while changing the point of view from where the players witnessed it) and the addition of playable heroes skyrocketed the game sales to various millions. Although the game wasn’t revolutionary in itself, its polished finished, its amazing levels and its multiplayer components quickly reserved a well-deserved place in history for Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos.
4 – Sim City 2000
If you don’t understand why Sim City 2000 is ranking so high in this list, you probably never had the pleasure of building a giant metropolis, providing it with the most basic services, embellishing it, constructing breathtaking skyscrapers and making your people happy just to send some alien invasion to destroy everything. Sounds stupid? Back in 1993 it wasn’t since every kid wanted a copy of Sim City 2000 to do exactly that. And though that wasn’t the original objective (remember that this is a simulator in which you had to plan your city strategically) it surely provided us with loads of fun and it what ultimately turned Sim City 2000 into a classic of the strategy games genre.
Imagine a pre-Starcraft era in which realtime strategy games hadn’t any huge title to be compared with. That was the context in which Command & Conquer: Red Alert was released and it quickly become the standard against which all RTS were going to be measured. Why? There were two main features that made C&C:RA big in the first place: its multiplayer options (which made possible long and tense battles between contestants) and its amazingly bizarre story. Any game with Albert Einstein and Hitler confronted thanks to time travelling is a classic in my book. Apparently, I’m not the one who thinks that way since C&C:RA enjoyed the top spot among strategy players for quite some time.
2 – Civilization IV
The defining title of the 4x subgenre. The Civilization franchise helped in forming the subgenre’s identity in which players have to explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate opposing players throughout the map. Doing so isn’t easy since this kind of games are incredibly complex. Especially Civilization IV. In this title you’ll have almost endless ways to achieve victory: through diplomatic, military or religious means you can take your people to the glory. And all of these aspects are perfectly combined in the fourth installment of the franchise, providing an astounding title that challenges to try our best strategies to win.
1 – Starcraft
If you’ve read this list carefully, you surely have imagined this outcome. I have to confess that I’m an enthusiastic Starcraft fan and that I believe this is the best game in history so I can’t be impartial on this one. However, I think that most people would agree with me that there was an undeniable turning point in the strategy games’ history once Starcraft was launched. I mean, come on! This is one of the all-time best selling and one the most memorable PC games of history for one reason!
The way it looked, the impressive cinematics, the exciting soundtrack, the three utterly unique races, the enthralling story and the multiplayer component (that resulted in one of the biggest online communities of the gaming world) has captivated all sorts of gamers and not only the ones that play strategy games alone. Besides, its sequel kept the players’ sustained interest over the years (which was highly rewarded with the essential Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty), which demonstrates the unconditional love of the Starcraft fans.
So, what do you think of my list? I’m certain that you surely disagree with some of the games here (if not with all of them). So, I’m curious to know what are your top strategy games. What do you think? Which is the greatest strategy game of all time? Tell us in the comments!
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