X-Com UFO Defense
- X-Com: UFO Defense aka UFO Enemy Unknown
- Star Wars: TIE Fighter
- Ground Control
- Empires: Dawn of the Modern World
I was introduced to this by a friend, and was instantly hooked. After playing it over at his place (and at my place, when he brought it over), I finally found it, along with Terror from the Deep and an encyclopedia-sized strategy guide for each game (this was back in the day when PRIMA actually made strategy guides, not just expanded instruction manuals
). I was addicted.
The game is splendid for many reasons. First of all, the way you build your bases, buy and micromanage weapons, armour, ammunition and so on, and research technology proposed by Earthlings, not to mention everything you bring in from the battlefield. Research, interrogation and autopsies drive the game plot, in that they tell you about the aliens, why they are on Earth, and what needs to be done to defeat them. Not to mention that they give you a chance on the battlefield. In the early game, your troops are more often than not cannon fodder that gets mowed down by superior alien weaponry. As the game progresses, however, and you gain access to better armour and learn to use the aliens' weapons, you'll actually find yourself surviving battles and fielding a force of experienced soldiers.
The tactical system is superb, and allows for some spooky battles where your nerves will be on edge the whole time. Mostly because of 'Reaction fire', which allows you and the aliens to fire their weapons while it's not their turn. Nothing beats advancing an unsuspecting trooper across a field only to have him get gunned down by an alien sniper. Playing UFO Defense without saving every fifth second is truly nerve-rattling. Add to this that there are several levels, from ground to four floors up, which allows for flying, fighting in buildings, and so on, and that everything on the map can have huge holes blown into it, including the ground, and you've got a system I've never seen beaten by any other game.
TIE Fighter is the best Star Wars game there is. You play as Marek Steele, an Imperial fighter pilot, and you're given a variety of craft to complete missions of escort, space superiority, recon, interception, and more mundane tasks such as minesweeping and border patrol. Unlike in Rogue Squadron, every single mission in each campaign follows nicely the one preceding it, and there actually is a storyline that can be easily followed. Not to mention that the plot itself, as well as the voice lines, briefings and debriefings, are simply great. But perhaps the best thing is that you're not a stereotypical Imperial bad guy, as you'd be in most other SW games. You're not massacring civilians, taking over innocent planets, and enforcing dictatorship. At least it does not feel that way. You're fighting pirates, patrolling borders for illegal narcotics, ending a civil war - you're out to save the world.
Incredible tactical game that gets so many things right despite its flaws. See the 'World in Conflict
' thread for my elaborate worshiping.
Empires: Dawn of the Modern World
Empires never got the fame or patches it so rightly deserved. Its single-player campaign was incredible - people who'd never, ever bothered to play SP before did so now and were amazed by what they experienced. The Yi campaign featured puzzles, the Lionheart campaign was build-and-destroy, and Patton took you on a Fixed Force campaign. And the content of the campaigns - the open-endedness, the creativity, the voice acting, the mapping, everything was so great. The editor - I won't even get into the editor. I've never touched a better editor my whole life. The graphics were great, too, very, very, very unique.
Empires really could have grown to become something great, with a few more patches. Pity it never got them.