PC Gamer, PC Enthusiast and love to write. Strategy games are my thing together with space simulator games and many more interests.
Command & Conquer 3 - Tiberium Wars
A bit of history in the RTS games genre
RTS (Real Time Strategy) games had always a great success in the gaming community. The fast action, the endless mouse clicks, the tension of building a base and forces and hopping the enemy A.I or a human player won't rush with a crazy tactic, was always in the center of any good RTS game. I am not going to make some list "top 10" or "top 20" best RTS games, cause to be honest, I hate those kind of lists.
A top 10 best game list, for me, cannot be the same for any other person, so, instead I will focus on games that I played and still play from time to time, since RTS games were always a genre that I always love.
This is just my opinion of some games that any RTS fan should at least check out, or know about. Still, for the hardcore players, probably, the games referred here are already know to them.
I start with Dune 2, a game that was responsible to bring the platform and the "blueprint" if we can call it like that, to all the RTS games until today. Remember this genre started around in the earliest 90's, there were no video cards, no dual cores or things like that. Things that today we take it for granted.
The graphics of games over the last decade have been improving almost at the speed of light. When we see today games like Bioshock, Crisis and so on, it is very hard for some people to revert, literally, to the stone age. But keep an open mind...
More importantly then graphics, at least in my honest opinion, is the game play, the story and the feeling a game gives the player that he is in control.
Since Westwood, the studio that developed the Dune series, Command & Conquer and Generals already with the hand of Electronic Arts, there have been many copies of RTS games with more or less success. Many, copies of what Westwood invented, and really, I can think about at lest another similar company. ;)
So, why so many people love this kind of games? Despicable has it may be, war is fun! War is great and anyone wants to know what is to be the General that gives the order and be the boss that command an entire army and it's logistic.
Dune 2 The Building of a Dynasty
The Father of all RTS games
The beginning of a franchise in the RTS Gaming.
It was late in 1992 when Dune 2 - The Building of a Dynasty, was released. Many people, never imagined a small studio company called Westwood (later bought by Electronic Arts), made one of first fast action RTS games. A few time later, Blizzard, came out with Warcraft - Orcs and Humans. Many people thought that Blizzard was the first to introduce the RTS genre in gaming, but it was Dune 2 that begin the revolution of RTS games and the endless copies of many other companies to do the same.
Dune 2 was a huge success due to the simplistic and intuitive way of playing. A fast action game where the player must gather the "spice" to convert into credits, build his base and his army with many units from different kinds of Infantry and Armor units.
The game came after Cryo Interactive's adventure game Dune, a point and click adventure where the player had to maintain the production of the spice and build an army to control Arrakis.
Based in the novel by Frank Herbert's Dune and adapted to the cinema with great success, the game was an inspiration for the development of Westwood greatest RTS hits like Command & Conquer.
Dune 2 Graphics - A Atreides Base
Dune 2 Game play - Nostalgic...
Buying the game
It is very hard to get this game today. In particular for the PC since it was a MS-DOS game.
Dune The Movie
More then a sequel, Dune 2000 was a remake of Dune 2. While many players and gaming publications gave the game a bad critique, the game was a success in the online tournaments.
Improved graphics, improved gameplay, a storyline with real actors (this was a major introduction in the games developed by Westwood) and a great soundtrack.
In a way Dune 2000 was a blueprint for the major rts games hits developed later by Westwood and Electronic Arts.
Dune 2000 was like the original Dune 2 but brought many new features. New units, improved graphics engine and an incredible sound track.
Dune 2000 base
The RTS "Blueprint"
In the picture above, we can see already some of the features that would be implemented in future games until recently.
The construction bar on the right, provide quick access to every building and unit the player could build, this would increase in size when the player advances the campaign and also, the control buttons for repair, sell, guard and in case of Dune 2000, the retreat button.
The only thing that was implement later was the ability to scroll down or up in the construction bar using the mouse wheel, Dune 2000 still needed the player to click the arrows to scroll up and down.
Another feature is the radar when it was built, the Harkonnen symbol would disappear and show a mini map with dots regarding friend or foe. Only much later in the RTS genre the LOS (Line of sight) was introduced, also the fog of war. More realistic approaches how a unit would fire and behave in the battlefield.
These 2 options forced the player in later games to be more aware of the terrain conditions and also to keep constantly scouting the area away from the base looking for enemies. This kind of details were very evident in Command & Conquer, where ordering a vehicle to go on different types of terrain could slow it down or give it more speed.
In the case of Dune 2000, the terrain speed control and line of sight were already introduced for the first time. A Tank in the top of a hill might hit or not a unit bellow, also different speeds were applied while driving on the desert, rock or spice (the orange pockets that harvesters go to collect the spice and bring it back to the refinery for credit conversion).
I leave you with 2 videos about Dune 2000 for nostalgic view. Game play and the amazing full soundtracks.
Dune 2000 Game Play
Dune 2000 Complete soundtrack
Emperor - Battle for Dune
The end of a franchise in style!
Emperor - Battle for Dune was the last game in the Dune series. It is my hope, that some day, Electronic Arts make a remake of it with the new technology that we have.
Westwood already had released Command & Conquer, it was a major hit also, C&C for short, it will be also reviewed and mentioned in this article later on.
In Emperor - Battle for Dune, the game is a sequel, starting where Dune 2000 left. With the Emperor dead due to the war in Dune 2000 story, several new factions appear in Emperor - Battle for Dune.
The 3 major factions, House Atreides, House Harkonnen and House Ordos, are again at war and are controlled by the player. Each one with their unique weapons, units, and storyline.
Again, like in Dune 2000 and Command & Conquer, the game was provided with long cut scenes filmed with live actors.
Emperor - Battle for Dune
Emperor - Battle for Dune, continues the plot after the Emperor Corrino has been killed by his concubine, Lady Elara at the end of Dune 2000. With the Planet Arrakis (Dune) still in chaos, the Spice melange must flow, since it is the only way to travel in space.
The Spacing Guild, a faction that controls the spice for traveling and uses mutated Guild navigators to fly their huge heighliner starships (their Navigators use the drug "The Spice Melange" (a bi-product of the spice harvested on Arrakis) to fold space for interstellar traveling , this gives the ability of the Guild travel from planet to planet instantaneously). The Spacing guild is contracted by all the 3 houses to move armies and whatever each house wants, since they control the space lines, in the game they have a hidden agenda to control Arrakis. This would mean they would control the Spice, like mentioned in the movies (yes there was more then 1 movie and sequels) and in the games, "who controls the Spice, controls the Universe".
The Spacing Guild proposes to the 3 houses, a "war of assassins". The house that wins, would control Arrakis and their leader will be the next Padishah Emperor of the Universe.
Emperor - Battle for Dune
Emperor - Battle for Dune Trailer
Sub plots and sub factions
Emperor - Battle of Dune also introduced 5 sub-factions. They are including in the storyline and in the campaign, the player must decide which sub house they will form an alliance.
This brought the game an interesting view in terms of strategy and game play. Whatever the primary House the player chose, with the follow of the story, he will eventually be "forced" to ally with at least 2 houses.
In the case of House Atreides, the plot focus on the effort of the Duke (a roll played by Michael Dorn from Star Trek Worf) to make an alliance with Freman, the natives of Arrakis. Despite, the Fremen are not a "official" House, even in the novels, they are one of the main focus of the story. With an ability to survive in the harsh sands of Dune.
The Imperial Sardaukar, are the infamous shock troopers of House Corrino and totally fanatical. With Emperor Corrino dead after the events of Dune 2000, they are left without a leader to serve. They go to Arrakis to observe the 3 houses and decide which of the 3 will be worthy to serve, of course the player has it's hand on it. Been probably the best infantry in the game, they have 2 powerful units, the Sardaukar Trooper armed with a devastating machine gun, and the Elite Sardaukar with a powerful laser gun that can take almost any armed vehicle or structure with ease.
House Ix, is another sub faction in the game. Described as fascist, technocratic House, in which the scientist elite rules. Once the player chooses to ally with the Ixians, they provide 2 units, an infiltrator with stealth capabilities that will kamikaze near enemy units to reveal cloaked enemy units when it detonates and the Projector Tank, fast hover tank with light mounted cannon, which when deployed, is able to project holographic images of the player's troops that provides realistic damage, yet disintegrates harmlessly on impact.
Guild of Navigators, the guild provides also 2 units with very unique capabilities, the Maker, a Guild Navigator with a powerful Cannon and a NIAB short for "Navigator in a box", a unit that uses the Navigator's technology to fold space, and can be teletransported in a second to any discovered area of the map, giving it a very strategic importance.
Tleilaxu, the Bene Tleilax, known as only the Tleilaxu in the game, in the game's fiction, the Tleilaxu are portrayed as religious fanatics who believe machines are evil. With this in mind they have 2 units that portray this belief to the letter.
The Contaminators, an infantry unit that releases a deadly virus on any enemy infantry units killing them and from the remains another Contaminator appears. They also have Leeches, a organic tank like unit that infects other enemies armor units that when destroyed hatch another Leech increasing their numbers the more they kill. It is possible saving the infected units by repairing them, in this case the Atreides uses their repair unit, while the other houses use an engineer to remove the leach.
Emperor - Battle for Dune - Review and game play
Another short trailer
The Dune games series
Command & Conquer - The First Decade
Command & Conquer Series
There is no doubt, that, Westwood was responsible for the RTS Genre. By the time Dune 2000 was released, Westwood started with a franchise that would last for years and getting a massive fan base for the Command & Conquer series.
From the plot between GDI and NOD from Command & Conquer to the Red Alert games, the company were always faithful to a style of game play that worked. With simple shortcuts and mouse clicks (a lot of them) you can control everything in the game very fast.
There were too many games and their expansions released in the last 10 years of Command & Conquer. Some better then others, but with great plots, action and with each one, improved graphics and game play.
If Dune 2 was a kind of "blueprint" for the RTS games in general, Command & Conquer really set the standard. Besides many releases of the franchise over the years, along with Warcraft 2, the game was responsible for the appearance of great games over the years from other companies that follow a "wining formula", games like Ages of Empires, Starcraft and others become so popular also because of Command & Conquer.
C&C - The beginning of a great franchise in RTS
Released for the PC in 1995 still using MS-DOS the game was a huge success. In part, this effort came from Dune 2 by adding things to C&C that never came to life in Dune 2.
Command & Conquer Gold was released after a while but for Windows 95, taking advantage of SVGA graphics, and multiplayer, something that was rare in games at the time. Dune 2000 also was a big responsible in this matter giving players all over the world to connect to Westwood servers and play in teams against each others or 1 vs 1.
This time the developers opted by a different theme. Originally thought to be played in a fantasy world like Dune 2, the developers brought the game story to Earth in current times.
The plot starts after an alien meteorite crash in Italy bringing a very toxic substance called Tiberium which becomes highly valued due to the fact it can absorb and crystallize all precious metals from the soil. A cultic secret society called "The Brotherhood of Nod" and their mystical leader only know by "Kane", claims it had foreseen the potential in this new substance and begins to invest into the refining and harvest Tiberium, developing new technologies much ahead of the scientific community.
Since Tiberium spreads at a incredible fast rate all over the world, NOD already controls half of the tiberium production in the world giving it a huge advantage in resources and power.
After a few terrorist attacks in Vienna which are attributed to the Brotherhood of NOD, the United Nations realizes that Kane and NOD are beginning a global campaign of terror to control most of the world, it is decided then, to activate the GDI (Global Defense Initiative) to counteract Nod's activities. This escalates into a world war against terrorism and NOD.
Command & Conquer Gameplay
Command & Conquer Tiberian Sun
Tiberian Sun was released in 1999 and it was a most waiting sequel of the first Command & Conquer. It was the game that sold the most in 1 month from EA (Electronic Arts), reaching 1.5 million copies in the first month!
Despite the game was released in rush, mainly after Westwood was bought by EA and containing several bugs and some small issues, the game was very popular. The new concept of units, maps, game play and the incredible tactics used in online games, made Tiberian Sun a winner of many awards and great and positive reviews by many publications and sites related to the gaming industry.
Believe it or not, even today it is possible to find people playing Tiberian Sun on online matches and we are talking about a game that was released over 14 years ago!
With a great story that included full motion video since this become a must in all RTS games released since Dune 2000 by Westwood, some well know Hollywood stars participated in the movies that brought the player into a deeper immersion of the war. Names like Michael Biehn plays GDI commander Michael McNeil, who reports to General James Solomon, played by James Earl Jones.
Due to the pressure EA wanted to release the game ahead of schedule, many things were not included in the game, this latter was solved with the expansion Tiberian Sun Firestorm. The expansion has a great plot, in my honest opinion, even more interesting then the original, the new units are great, but some lack balance or are too powerful in groups, this made the fans discard the expansion in online matches, there were many online matches to play but when compared to the original, it was a very small percentage.
Tiberian Sun can be considered one of the best rts games of all time. The fast action, a simple and intuitive interface, a great sound track made this game, a great start for the many RTS games released latter in the years from the Command & Conquer series.
Tiberian Sun Game Play
Command & Conquer Red Alert
One year after the release of Command & Conquer, in 1996 comes Red Alert with a more centered story and a more modern army.
The first Red Alert followed the same principles in the first C&C but this time not in a futuristic war. This time, the plot was in a parallel universe around 1950, which was created by accident by Albert Einstein in an experiment with time travel. By traveling to the past at a time where Hitler was still a young teenager, he kills Hitler to avoid the horrors of the 2nd World War.
With the threat of the Nazi German removed, the Soviet Union grows in military power with Joseph Stalin. With the Nazi German removed from history, the USSR starts a conflict to conquer all Europe according to the vision of Stalin of a Europe under Soviet rule.
The European nations quickly form an alliance to counteract the Soviet invasion which in turn becomes an alternate second world war.
At the end of the game, when the player plays the soviet side, Stalin turns to the player commending him, and cynically says "I will see to it personally that you are very well taken care of." (implying he will have him disposed of). While drinking a cup of tea, he dies poisoned by Nadia (a girl that usually brought the player to speed in the missions ahead). Nadia then turns to the player and tells him that the Soviet Union is now under the rule of the Brotherhood of Nod, leaving the player the ruler of the Soviet Union until NOD reemerges in the 90's. She is betrayed by Kane, the leader of NOD with a shot in her back, who reveals that he has been the true mastermind.
Command & Conquer Red Alert Gameplay - Nostalgic...
Command & Conquer Red Alert - Sequels
After the great hit by Tiberian Sun in 1999, in 2000 and 2001, the series presented another great hit. Command & Conquer Red Alert 2 was a very different game from the past.
With a improved graphics engine, a good story (to be honest the first games had a more deep story), a great game play with many different and unique units, the same style of interface that was already a proven wining formula, Red Alert 2 brought many great innovations to the series.
This time the conflict is between the USA and the Soviet Union, were the USSR invade the United states. Again, the game brought new concepts of playing like for the first time, it was possible to garrison buildings with infantry (something that was very developed latter on with C&C Generals and C&C 3 Tiberium Wars) and also to put infantry units on vehicles that would change their primary weapon according the type of unit, this was on the USA side.
Red Alert 2 - New units and concept
New buildings for both faction with unique abilities, and some buildings and units where also present from the first Red Alert, like the Tesla Coil defense for the Russia side, attack dogs and so on. This was also the first game in the Command & Conquer series where it is possible to capture neutral structures like oil derricks, workshops and so on. The capturing of buildings was always possible in any C&C game with the use of engineers, but this add a new tactical perspective to the game.
Red Alert 2 also saw an expansion called Yuri's Revenge, Yuri is the advisor of the Russian President, but with his own hidden agenda. The expansion added a 3rd faction to the game, more maps and units. Red Alert 2 was full of action and it was also played by many fans of the series in online matches. Still, in this aspect, it never beat Tiberian Sun.
Red Alert 2 Gameplay
Command & Conquer Renegade
In 2002, Command & Conquer fans would see a new game that made the battles personal.
For the first time in (and probably the last) a first person shooter would make the delight of all fans of the Command & Conquer series.
In C&C Renegade, the player is set in an environment of the first RTS C&C. All the buildings and units from the first C&C were now in a First Person Shooter where the player can drive all the great tanks from the RTS game and be any type of infantry unit he wants. Also some new infantry units were made for balance terms.
Renegade was, and believe it or not after 12 years, still is a great success online. The game was abandoned by EA for some time now, still, a group of fans picked up the game and maintained online servers where hundreds of players are constantly playing. Some mods were also released but the at the core the game is just amazing when playing online.
In online gameplay, players will form teams, GDI vs NOD, the first team that destroys the other's base wins the map. With many of the building from the RTS version but this time bigger and interactive, the player feels how small he is. The goal is to work in team with the several units present in the game, attacking or defending the base.
It can be great fun playing Renegade but at the same time, frustrating when playing online. If your team do not get organized, it is a loss for sure.
In terms of single player, the game is also good. It has a good plot, where the player assumes the role of a GDI commando to find and save 3 top scientists that were abducted by NOD.
In terms of gameplay, the player drive many different types of vehicles from a humble Jeep to the mighty of a Mammoth Tank. With many weapons at his disposal, like a automatic pistol with a silencer, Sniper rifle and C4 that he can plant on many critical units or places, every mission has a good use for it.
Even the super weapon of the RTS game, the GDI Ion Cannon is present, which can obliterate a building.
All this was passed to the online mode, giving C&C Renegade with many tactics and ways of playing online. Renegade was in a way, a dream come true for the fans of the C&C series that wanted to be in the middle of a battle, close and personal.
C&C Renegade Multiplayer gameplay
Good guy or bad guy?
Command & Conquer Generals
C&C Generals - Another big hit from the series
Command & Conquer Generals was a warming welcome to the C&C series. This time, the game was totally redesign in a new 3D perspective and the construction bar moved to the bottom of the screen. A different play style, more "down to Earth", the game focus in a global conflict between the USA, China and GLA (Global Liberation Army - a terrorist faction).
C&C Generals is a good RTS game that brought some new innovations to the series but in a sense, stayed away from the typical RTS games previously released. Most of the shortcut commands using the keyboard and the mouse are basically the same like in previous games, the change is on the interface and the new 3D perspective.
Since the game focus on a global war of the XXI Century, the units of all 3 factions reflect this. You have tanks, Hum-Vee's, Transport helicopters, Apaches, Stealth Bombers, Bio weapons, and so on and on. With 3 factions, each one containing specific units according to each style, the game is well balanced and it is of great fun to play.
Each faction has it's strengths and play style, while playing the USA side, the player has interesting units but the main power is Air Force, China is more "Nuke" based and infantry tactics but it has a good collection of tanks, in this aspect , China tanks are more versatile and the most powerful in the game. The GLA focus on WMD (weapons of mass destruction) and relies on stealth tactics, toxic weapons and it has the most versatile building construction of all faction but also it has interesting units where it focus in a "terrorist" style, like vans with anti-aircraft weapons, toxic tractors that spray a toxic liquid that can kill infantry in a second.
While the first C&C Generals was fun to play, the expansion Generals: Zero Hour was a great addition to the game with more units and more technology available to the player. In my personal opinion, the expansion, is much better then the first game. Both games have interesting plots for each faction also.
Command & Conquer Generals Trailer
C&C Generals Zero Hour Gameplay
Command & Conquer the First Decade
Command & Conquer Tiberium Wars
Probably the best RTS game from the Command & Conquer franchise of all time!
Well, it might be a matter of opinion, but to me, Tiberium Wars was the best Command & Conquer that I played, also is one of my favorites, so this is a game that I strongly advise anyone to play.
Tiberium Wars brings back some of the units saw in Tibirian Sun but also brought many new ones with great game play and a very personal style. Released in 2007, the graphic engine is really good, it may not be a "Crisis" but it is good for the C&C franchise. Full motion video is included and this time the developers bet on well know actors to bring the player close to the combat. Names like Michael Ironside playing GDI's General Jack Granger, the sexy Tricia Helfer that is well know by her role on Battlestar Galactica as Number 6, Billy Dee Williams well know for many movies included Star Wars and Grace Park also well know for her roll also on Battlestar Galactica as Sharon.
The developers also included real world newscasters to bring news style reports between the cut scenes of the story like CNN news reporter Shanon Cook plays the character of Cassandra Blair, Fox News anchor John Huck appears as William Frank and the sexy Shauntay Hinton (Miss USA 2002) was cast as the reporter Brittany Bhima.
C&C Tiberium Wars factions and major innovations
In Command & Conquer Tiberium Wars a 3rd faction was included to the war between GDI and NOD. A Alien race know as Scrin that are responsible for the Tiberium infestation on Earth and it's destruction of Earth's ecosystems.
The 3 sides have their own agenda, where GDI gets involved in a 2 front war now with the Alien invasion, NOD, see these events as an opportunity to fulfill Kane's vision of Tiberium control and the control of the Alien technology, and the Aliens just want to wipe out all life on Earth to have the world to a full Tiberium conversion for their use.
Each faction presents very unique units and also buildings. GDI keeps their role on surprise assault tactics and air control, while NOD have more focus on stealth and guerrilla style attacks. A great introduction was the base defenses of each side, bringing some "new-old" weapons into the game, like the GDI EMP Cannon, the NOD Obelisk is also present with a twitch that use a special unit to increase it's range, power and rate of fire. Also on the NOD side the old Laser towers defense were upgraded into a hub, every hub the player deploy brings 3 laser turrets or 3 anti-infantry turrets. If one of the turrets is destroyed but the hub remains, after a little time the turret is constructed again.
In the old series, whenever a player put several construction buildings, production was accelerated (like in Dune 2000) but this time the developers brought the innovation from Generals where the player puts 2 or 3 buildings, for example a barracks, he gains access to more production lines at the same time. This changes everything in the speed of creating a army, with special focus in online games and rush tactics.
The Aliens are a very unique side with some powerful units, where most of them seems more focused to cause havoc on the battlefield, "mind control" units are present, and most units can gain a shield giving it even more resistance to damage.
The 3 factions also gained a kind of "super unit", in the case of GDI, the well know Mammoth Tank is back with powerful upgrades, NOD has the Avatar, a robotic unit that can be upgraded in different ways by "eating" another vehicle and gain it's ability.
Command & Conquer 3 Tiberium Wars Gameplay - NOD
C&C The end of a successful franchise
C&C Red Alert 3 and C&C 4 Tiberian Twilight
The last 2 games in the franchise did not end too well. For Red Alert fans, Red Alert 3 is a bit confusing, playable, but confusing. There are too many units for each faction. Don't take me wrong, the game is well done, it follows the franchise, sound and graphics are good.
When I did try to play Red Alert 3, I got the feeling something was lost from the series. The bases works a bit different, no more building refineries everywhere. Instead, there are special places to build those, and the amount is limited, giving the player more thinking to do. All this would do well in a turn base strategy game, but in a C&C game, is just wrong.
Still, Command & Conquer Red Alert 3 sold an impressive number of editions and it was very well received by the gaming press and the fans.
Command & Conquer 4 Tiberian Twilight did not had the same success of it's predecessors. It had mixed critiques been most bad about the single player campaign. The developers redesign the game in a way that cause many fans to stay away from the game. No more base building, no more endless units and also no more mining tiberium. The way the game is played is only good for online matches, but still no every players will have access online to all the units since they first much unlock them on the single player campaign.
This was the worst game of the C&C series and it is sad that a game that had some good ideas, amazing graphics were so badly developed in terms of game play.
C&C Red Alert 3
C&C 4 Tiberian Twilight
Warcraft is well know by their RTS games, Blizzard Entertainment become well know in the video game industry thanks to the Warcraft RTS franchise, still, they made their huge impact on the popular MMO World of Warcraft and Diablo.
In 1994 a couple years after Westwood released Dune 2, Blizzard "kinda" copy their style. But unlike many other companies that copy game ideas from big hits, Blizzard adapted their RTS games in a very peculiar and interesting style, Warcraft - Orcs and Humans, was the first RTS game released by them.
Warcraft was a success due to the interesting story and fantasy game play. The general RTS ideas were there but Blizzard went far ahead with compelling stories for their games, building bases and the peculiar units developed to include a medieval touch but in a fantasy world where magic, dragons, knights and so on were very well developed. Warcraft - Orcs and Humans got a massive good reviews at the time and it was a sales success for the company that were almost bankrupt. Thanks to this game, Blizzard assure their financial freedom to make several games all of them with success.
Warcraft III - Reign of Chaos
Warcraft 3 brought a great concept to the series. Despite the reviews of the game that were somehow mixed, it was still awarded "Game of the Year". The game didn't brought anything major to the RTS genre but it was still very well received and made a legion of fans (something that can be seen by the success of World of Warcraft).
The game has a great storyline that could be compared to some Hollywood big hit movies. In fact, in my personal opinion, Warcraft would make a great movie with the right people. The simple interface, sound, music (very well done) and the simple graphics but very detailed, made this game to be able to run almost on any machine. Today it is still a game that can been installed on any modern machine and will run with no problems. I still have it installed on my computer since this game is always fun to play and it's expansion "The Frozen Throne".
The cinematic movies between missions to tell the story are somehow mediocre due to the usage of the ingame graphics engine and because the game uses a cartoon style for buildings, units and landscape. Also the game presents some small movies done with CGI that are very good, worthy, like I mentioned before, of a Hollywood movie.
The biggest concept of them all, and one that it was never seen on RTS games like C&C, were the introduction of Heroes that will move from mission to mission with the player along the storyline and they will level up to gain more abilities and strengths over the time giving the game, sometimes a RPG sense to the player.
Warcraft 3 Introduction movie
Warcraft 3 Concepts
Warcraft 3 Reign of Chaos and it's expansion "The Frozen Throne" have many interesting concepts. Besides the Heroes introduction that give a sense of RPG inside the RTS game, it has some concepts that were never seen in other RTS games.
Resources are gathered by workers to collect wood from trees or gold from mines, some missions even focus on this depending the storyline and the faction the player is using. The interface at the bottom of the screen was adapted also like many other RTS games, this one will change it's looks depending of the race the player chooses.
Another welcoming feature was the introduction of a "upkeep" cost. This put an end to the endless construction of units avoiding massive armies. It is possible to build many units but it's capped around 90 units due to the upkeep. Also, due to the upkeep having 3 levels, the income from mines that give gold to the player and trees to chop wood starts reducing due to the cost of the upkeep.
Every unit the players build has a upkeep that will increase the more the player builds, this is due to the usage of food, another concept that is new. If the player is playing humans for example, he must build farms, each farm produce a fixed amount of food adding more upkeep to spend. With 2 farms the player reaches a very low number of units, in particular the most powerful units can cost something like 5 food or more.
Buildings can be upgraded also, something that is rarely seen in RTS games in general. Upgrades to increase the strength of the building by adding more hit points and unit upgrades also that will increase armor, range and damage depending of the units.
Orcs also have interesting upgrades. One of them is the ability to upgrade all the buildings with spikes that will damage any enemy units that attack any building. Also if the player sound an alarm when his base is under attack, the working units that gather resources, all run to near building and start shooting arrows at the enemy. Human workers go to the city hall or castle and get a basic armor and a sword to help fighting the invading force.
In terms of game play, Warcraft 3 is great, simple to use and manage but the A.I. is somehow predictable and the player can planning is defense accordingly.
Warcraft 3 Gameplay
Warcraft 3 plus Expansion
Sins of a Solar Empire
What happens when you mix Master of Orion and Homeworld? You have Sins of a Solar Empire.
The great strategy game follows the tradition of the old turn based games like Master of Orion or Galactic Civilizations but in a real time strategy game.
Sins, made this very well, the game is great to play and the graphics engine is not that heavy but it is made with quality, this allows Sins to be played in less powerful Pc's.
Despite not having a campaign mode with a storyline, the game focus more on skirmish games that can take a while to complete. The major innovation is in multiplayer gaming, using Lan or Internet to play with other players, since a game with many planets and solar systems can take very long to finish, it is possible to save the game and continue latter, this can be very interesting in multiplayer games.
Sins of a Solar Empire, follows the rule of 4X games, eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate. If a game with one star and around 20 planets can take like 4 or 5 hours to finish, a game with several stars and hundreds of planets can take days depending the A.I. difficulty level and player experience.
With already many "updates" released, that in fact are releases of games inside the same one, the last one is called Rebellion.
Still, no matter what game you play, you have a lot to do, from ship building, managing resources, developing technology and hope the A.I don't make a sneak attack that will cripple you. Of course playing against other humans is a different story.
If you enjoy a calm RTS game in space, if you ever played the good oldies Master of Orion 2 or Galactic Civilizations, but playing in real time in a very well developed interface, easy to learn game, then Sins of a Solar Empire will deliver.
Sins of a Solar Empire Video Review
Sins of a Solar Empire - Rebellion
XCOM - Enemy Unknown
Almost after two decades of the great and amazing game called UFO: Enemy Unknow also know as X-Com: UFO Defense released in 1994 by Microprose and Mythos Games, in 2012 a remake by 2K Games and Firaxis Games brought to us a "rebirth" of some sort of that amazing strategy and tactical game that all the fans know it by UFO.
Titles like, Enemy Unknown, Terror from the Deapth, Xcom Apocalypse, brought ways to fight off a Alien invasion on Earth.
If in the 1994 Xcom many players, including myself, played the game to exhaustion, the concept of having basically "2 games" in one, was very well made. The strategic game, where the player had to build bases, research new technologies and fabricate them, personal management from scientists, engineers and soldiers, there were always a lot to do.
When the Ufo's started appear, the player had to intercept them and then send in a squad of special troops to investigate the crash site, of course many missions were a total war zone with total destructible scenario.
The XCOM saga comes alive
In 2012 we finally had a modern Xcom game. Many different and conflicted critiques were given to the game. For the more hardcore fans, many things were lost and the game lost it's strategic power, giving more importance to the tactical combat made in a mixed of real time and turn base action.
This time the player just have one base that he must expand in the long term if he wants to fight the Alien menace. Also, in terms of production and research, it got simpler, perhaps too much simpler.
Despite all that, the game is very addictive. With great graphics that include cinematic action of certain activities in close angle during the tactical battle that give another sense of action.
After it's release, there were also sold a few DLC's (add ons) to the game, these were a bit weak but now, after 2 years of it's release you can get the full game and the DLC's very cheap.
Late in 2013 a new game came out with the same graphic engine and gameplay called XCOM - Enemy Within, this one add more interesting things to the game, including new technologies and more enemies. This time it's not only the Aliens but a secret organization that Xcom must fight.
If you love the 1994 game and the ones after, you will love the "new" Xcom. It is more simplistic in terms of strategy and gameplay, maybe because the developers wanted to catch a broader audience of gamers that never played the old Xcom. Still the both games are a blast and worthy for any true strategy gamer to add these gems to his/her collection.
This is not a RTS game and probably should not be including in this article, but the XCOM and UFO franchise are classics of great strategy games.
XCOM Enemy Unknown - GameSpot Review
XCOM Enemy Unknown Complete Edition
More games coming soon
More games coming to this list. Command & Conquer take most of it, but there a few more games that you need to check out. Keep checking this page for updates.
© 2014 Carlos Mendes