Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Great Video Game Debate, Take 4: SIMULATION/STRATEGY

Round 3, FIGHT!!!

Ok, our Adventure games round wasn't really much of a fight. My friends and fellow bloggers at Soul Kerfuffle and LastBestAngryMan and I all pretty much thought each other's lists were kinda insightful and sorta creative. It was more "oh yeah, I remember that was an awesome game" than "both you and that game suck." All three of us had selections from Sierra's King's Quest series, solidifying that they are among the best games ev4r.

Harvester is still the most wretched piece of sickening fecal garbage ever...

But I digress...

On to the wonderful world of Strategy and Simulation games. We've decided to rate these together because so many titles blur the lines of these categories. Hopefully we will will be able to provide more colorful responses to each other's lists.

#5 Defender of the Crown (PC)

Set in Medieval England, you (a Saxon) find yourself trying to unite the land under one banner to drive those militant Normans off your island. You can go about this in a number of ways from raiding your foe's castles to large-scale battles. My favorite, of course, was laying siege with a catapult.


We played this game all the time back in grade school on my friend's Commodore Amiga, which was about 15 years ahead of its time graphically.

#4 Coaster (PC)

I can barely find any records showing this game ever existed. It was released in 1989 by Disney as the first (I think) "design and ride" roller coaster simulation.

Basically you had control over just about everything from height to track turning angle, radius, and pitch to placement of loops and corkscrews. You could even take the upstops off and go flying off the tracks. The design was rated by several computerized "judges" who gave very balanced critiques based on fun factor, speed, drop, and design harmony.

The game's physics were amazing. It realistically calculated every aspect of your blueprint and its impact on the human body. Then it allowed you to ride your coaster first-person along with your judges. If the design had bone-jarring turns or traveled too fast through a loop, the judges would not be pleased and your rating would sink. Awesome game that, in a way, made kids think about and enjoy physics.

#3 Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness (PC)

"Zug Zug"

Warcraft II was the first real-time strategy game I truly got into. I remember abusing the Villanova servers with this my freshman year by having massive battles that took several hours to resolve. Generally, all four or five other players would team up on one guy (usually not me because I sucked, as I do with all RTS games). This usually led to a lot of cursing and throwing things.

Beyond the multiplayer game, the single player game had a very interesting storyline illustrating the conflict between Humans (aided by elves, dwarves, etc...) and Orcs (aided by trolls, goblins, etc...). What was interesting was if you payed attention to more than just the killing (like I did on my third time playing the game), there were no "clear cut" good guys or bad guys. The game's sequel, Warcraft III, further expanded upon these concepts.

Then the whole story thing went to crap. Who needs story development when you have 3pix 1337 1007?

Moving on...

#2 Starcraft (PC)

This is definitely the best RTS ever produced. I made the critical mistake of trying to play this multiplayer against Soul Kerfuffle and my old stoner college roommate. I got my ass handed to me in about 30 seconds. Their battle, however, raged on for hours longer. I can't remember who won (I think it may have been SK due to my roommate passing out at his computer), but there were a lot of "Siege Tanks" and "Carriers" blowing things up.

The game is massive and well balanced. The single player game lets you control all three factions: the Alien-esque Zerg, the Aliens-esque "space marines" Terran, and the Draenei, errrr, I mean Protoss... Again, much like Warcraft II and III, there is no clear cut "good" or "bad" faction, which I think makes the story line very interesting.

I can't wait for World of Starcraft!!! I want to see Soul Kerfuffle cry...

#1 Civilization (PC)

I remember getting this game for Christmas and thinking it may be a clandestine attempt to get me to play a thinly veiled "history lesson" in video game clothing.

I was right and to this day Civilization ranks as one of my favorite games of all time (thanks, Mom!!!). I remember loading it thinking "I'll give it a shot." Fired it up, started play as the Egyptians, and within an hour Alexander the Great's tanks and infantry were pummeling the hell out of my phalanx while my precious Egyptian peoples were rioting in the streets.


It's a fun game with many real-world geopolitical lessons. You learn that for a world leader, the balancing act between being a well-liked (people celebrating your name, building you a monument, going to work and being productive as opposed to rioting, etc...) and being successful (running a financially stable country, smashing your enemies to bits, advancing technologically, etc...) is extremely difficult, and this game captures it perfectly. Civilization also shows the historical links between significant technological, spiritual, and social advancements which may not always be clear. All in all, it's an extremely entertaining romp through the "ins" and "outs" of world history.

Several sequels and spin-offs (Colonization almost made in on this list) to the original Civilization have been created, with the best possibly being the fourth iteration. I needs to stops beings a bum and gets me that game...

Other notable games include anything else from the Civilization series, any of the Roller Coaster Tycoon games, Chuck Yeager's (that's always going to be funny to me) Advanced Flight Trainer, the X-Wing and TIE Fighter games, and Castles, which I suck at.

Worst Sim/Strategy Game: Dwarf Fortress

This is one of those "minimalist" or "purist" ASCII text games that programmer snobs with Macs love. Yes, of course the game is incredibly deep, if your idea of fun gameplay is staring at all the little "@"s and "&"s running around your impenetrable stronghold, which is constructed from the best "l"s, "+"s, and "_"s that "$" can buy. Said stronghold, of course is surrounded by the beautiful snow-capped "AAA" mountains to the East and "###" forest to the South.

I'm personally waiting for the much anticipated Elf Fortress to be released, with its stunning 3D graphics
(you need 6gb of video memory) and amazing soundtrack (a Danny Elfman, John Williams, Trent Reznor, and RZA collaboration). Its richly developed characters, who you can tell apart not only visually, but by the incredible voice-over acting (Patrick Stewart, Sir Ian McKellen, Andy Sirkus, and Cate Blanchette have already signed on) add to the incredible storyline written by Roberta Williams circa 198X, Christopher Tolkien, and Wang Dulu.


An ASCII-based scene from Dwarf Fortress


A fully rendered 3D scene from the upcoming hit
game Elf Fortress: Just Better Than Dwarves











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1 Comments:

At February 12, 2008 at 10:18 AM , Blogger robustyoungsoul said...

First of all, I don't even believe "Coaster" actually exists. Pics or it didn't happen.

Warcraft II and Starcraft are both worthy choices, and the original Civ is certainly a classic although I'd argue that they have gotten progressively better.

However, your choice of worst ever is nothing short of appalling. An insult to right minded gamers everywhere. Shame on you and your gigantic gaming rig that can only justify its existence with epically graphic games where gameplay doesn't even matter as long as stuff blows up real good.

 

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