Jens' favourite games - part 5, Strategy games
Finally, here is the last genre:
Jens' favorite Strategy games of all time
Jagged Alliance 2 (PC) - Jagged Alliance 2 pulled off something I didn't think was possible to do well: a stats-driven combat role-playing game in a contemporary setting. While I've never been as fascinated by real weapons as some of my friends, this added to the game more than I expected. This combined with the excellent setting (overthrowing a banana republic) and some truly deep adventure makes this game legendary in my eyes. Sadly, the developer Sirtech Canada failed to convince the world of this and I remember the day when read that they had closed down. Shortly after creating such a genius game and well underway with the third installment the team scattered. Jagged Alliance 2 was not too long ago released on Steam, and while the user-interface may feel dated it's still great so if are into strategy and RPG, I truly recommend you to give it a try.
The Clue! (Amiga) - The Clue! is probably the biggest underdog to take a top spot. I've yet to find a game that recreates The Clue! experience. Taking the role as a thief, climbing his way to the top in seedy London (mostly) was a great setting, but the game-play was the unique thing. You planned your heists on blue-print and synchronized all participants using a time-line until you were satisfied. This game was made by some obscure German developer and I think it did well enough (at least in Germany) to warrant a sequel. The sequel did seem to keep the core game-play, but it was made in simple 3D that didn't help the game-play and a cartoonish style that didn't appeal to me. It also seems to have failed commercially.
X-Com: UFO Defense (Amiga) - The original and best. Fighting back an alien invasion can't be done better than this. I spent many hours on this sluggish beast that it was on the Amiga and recently rejoiced when I found out that it's free and fully playable on today's PC (of course without any hint of a slowdown). Surprisingly enough even the user-interface, that usually keeps old games from being playable, manages to keep its head over water. If you are at all into combat-strategy, you must test this one. The UFO/X-Com license has had a weird history, with the two names being owned by different companies, both producing "sequels". I try to try out every one of the new releases and UFO Afterlight actually got it (at least with the nostalgia glasses on). Of course, with the recent news that Irrational is working on an X-Com project, we might see something really special in the future.
Advance Wars (GBA) - I've always been fascinated by the simple turn-based strategy titles but how simple they may seem, it seems to be very hard to do them well. The updated DS version is equally excellent.
Civilization III (PC) - From Civilization 1, I always tried similar games and played them through once and was satisfied with that. With the third installation, I for some reason restarted it, and tried to play it another way. I almost regret that, since Civ3 became one of the biggest time-sinks I've ever encountered.
Deuteros (C64) - While being unfair and buggy, this game introduced me to one of the style of games that have fascinated me the most; some kind of resource-strategy exploration adventure.
Jagged Alliance (PC) - While the sequel took the top stop due to its additional focus on the RPG aspects, this game also contains so many of my favorite aspects.
Railroad Tycoon (Amiga) - The second Sid Meyers game on the list with the accompanying excellent core game-play. Surprisingly, it's probably in here because it taught me some basic financial theory; and about the danger of blowing your stock to unreasonable proportions a few years too early of your retirement days.
Reunion (PC) - As with its cousin Deuteros (and to some extent Dune), Reunion is a hard game to pinpoint. I'm fascinated by games where the game-play evolves and while I understand why it's so hard to create and why it can be a bad idea, I wish I had more games like that.
Uplink (PC) - Another underdog on the list, but a more modern one. Uplink is still sold as shareware by a sympathic group of people and while the game failed me half-way through, it's still one of my great inspirations. Again, the genre is extremely hard to pinpoint, but how about hacking-simulation RPG?
Warlords (PC) - Being mostly a single player kind of guy, few games made this list because of its multiplayer offerings. This fine resource and combat-strategy game is an exception, even though multiplayer at the time meant leaving the computer (again at the school's computer-room) for the next player to take his turn.