Still Great PC Games (Part 1)

As a video game enthusiast, I find myself often relishing in video games of the past.  I take a great deal of pleasure playing an older title that I may not have touched for months or years because quite often, it seems new again and I enjoy it as much as I ever did before… In several cases, I’ve actually gained a greater appreciation for the title as time has passed and I’ve matured and grown up.

I’ve decided to bring my love of older games here to this site.  Over the next little while, I’ll be making a series of posts with older games (from the 90s and early 2000s) that are still great… and still ready to be played.  So dust of that game box and crack open that cd case… these games are ready for you to remember their greatness.

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In this first post, I’ll discuss some of the great strategy games of the past.  Strategy games and the PC have always been a match made in heaven.  They go together better than peanut butter and jelly.  No other gaming system that has come along over the years has done the strategy genre the justice the PC has.  There have been some great strategy games over the years and I couldn’t possibly list all of them, but here’s a short list of some of the better strategy games from years past.

1) Command & Conquer: Red Alert (1996)
Expansion(s) : Command & Conquer: Red Alert Counterstrike (1997), Command & Conquer: Red Alert The Aftermath (1997)

The Command & Conquer franchise really put real-time strategy games on the map in the late 90s.  This game introduced strategic aspects to game play in an extremely integrated manner that made you wonder why no one had thought of such things before. 

Red Alert was made that much more interesting because of it’s storyline which involves an alternate future where the  cold war with the Soviet Union never ended.  Many aspects of this game have been used in other, more recent games and any list of great, older PC games would be incomplete without this title. 

2) Lords of the Realm II (1997)

From kingdom management, to impressively detailed castle sieges, Lords of the Realm II offered a different type of strategic game play than other real time strategy games like Command & Conquer and Age of Empires.

The castle siges were almost a mini-game in themself, as they often required more thought than just producing as many units as you could and wiping the map clean of your opponents. 

The Internet capabilities for the game were also a nice (and pretty new) touch for the genre… this was one of the first games I remember playing with my friends “online.”

3) Age of Empires (1997)
Expansion(s) : The Rise of Rome (1998)

This game makes the list because of several innovative features.  It was released just 1 year after Command & Conquer: Red Alert… but in many ways, the game play and “kingdom management” had advanced light years ahead of the C&C titles.

Age of Empires also introduced strategy gamers to the history books.  This title showed that video games didn’t necessarily have to be entirely fictional to be great; they could incorporate real history and real fact, and still be fun.   

Age of Empires also introduced gamers to one of the greatest features any strategy game had ever seen… a user friendly map editor.  Now strategy gamers could create maps and campaigns of their own.  In addition to the randomized maps that were already available, the map editor made Age of Empires one of the most enjoyable strategy games to replay for a long time.

4) Starcraft (1998)
Expansion Pack(s) : Brood War (1998)

With the initial release of the real-time strategy game in early 1998, and the expansion pack coming out just a few months after, gamers found themselves immersed in a massive war with their race’s possible extinction on the line.

The campaign mode and it’s story-line are top notch, and the graphics are beautiful even by today’s standards.  The visual effects have a gorgeous hand drawn/colored feel to them, which is something you just don’t see in games anymore as everything has gone to 3D engines in recent years. 

Like all great strategy games, you can still lose yourself for hours in this title either defending your civilization against the onslaught of genetically created (and out of control) aliens, or playing as the aliens themselves in an effort to wipe the universe clean of all other intelligent life.

This title is a must own for any strategy game junkie.

5) Gangsters: Organized Crime (1998)

This game was light years ahead of it’s time, and because of that it somewhat slipped in the execution of it’s grand vision… but micromanaging strategy gamers were still left with one of the best crime strategy games of all time.

Gangsters involves taking the reigns as a crime boss, and ruling a city through legal “front” businesses, illegal businesses, and good old fashioned intimidation, extortion, bribing, and murder.  Everything from the music, to the voice work, to the artistic design made the game authentic… but the lack of a map editor/creator limited the game’s replayability.  As far as the depth of the game went however, there was not much that you couldn’t do. 

Casual gamers might have been overwhelmed, but for the detail oriented micromanaging strategy nut, this game was gold.

6) Age of Wonders (1999)

Turn-based strategy meets beautiful visuals and a wide variety of fantasy creatures in this title.

In an era where real-time strategy games were absolutely taking over the PC platform, Age of Wonders dared to break away from the status quo and was quite successful in it’s effort. 

It is a game with elves, goblins, orcs, and other mythical races of creatures, and it involved traditional strategy aspects of kingdom building, expansion, and diplomacy… just in a well executed turn based format.  If you missed this title years ago because of the dominance of the RTS, look into picking it or the sequel (Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic [2003]) up.  They are both a refreshing detour from the norm.

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In the next post, I’ll break down some of the strategy games from the early 2000s that are still worth the space in your gaming library.  After that, we’ll look at RPGs, Shooters, and Simulations.

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One Response to “Still Great PC Games (Part 1)”

  1. […] f.e.g.n.s. Food – Entertainment – Girls – News – Sports « Still Great PC Games (Part 1) […]

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