Ok, I admit it.
I’m a big kid when it comes to games.
Me and my wife got our first PC way back in the mid-90s. A 486-SX (I was told later told the SX stood for “SuX”). I had heard about computer games so we bought a couple of cheapos. A chess game and another one about WWI fighter planes. Both left a lot to be desired.
In time my dad gave me a upgraded 486 ( a DX-2!) and I was ready to rock with some serious gaming. The guys at work had talked about a game called Command and Conquer. Eventually someone burned me a copy so I could check it out. This was about 1995 or 1996.
I was absolutely blown away.
I didn’t realize a computer game could be so appealing. After each mission I had such a feeling of accomplishment. My wife eventually started playing and we would actually set up a simple LAN so we could play against each other. We even bought a program to create custom missions. It never worked though.
After that I was hooked on computer games. I’ve played plenty, but here is a quick list of my favorites listed in (more or less) a chronological order of how I played them. Most were played a year or 2 after they were released due to the fact I never seemed to have a computer capable of playing the latest and greatest.
My hope is to eventually post a little about each one in order of my preference but for now, here is the list.
Command and Conquer (1995)
One of the original real-time strategy games of the PC gaming world. Command and Conquer, or C&c, let you play as the Global Defense Initiative and protect the world or as the Brotherhood of Nod, a radical organization bent on world domination.
The game’s focus revolves around a material called “Tiberium” and the efforts of the above factions to control the cultivation of it. Each mission you complete leads to a more difficult level where you are usually given bigger badder weapons or units. But of course, it’s the same for your enemy.
Sim City 2000 (1994)
Be the Mayor of a thriving city. My favorite of the Sim City series. You can plan every aspect of city growth like roads, taxes, zoning and much much more. Sometimes it was just as much fun to just sit and watch as it was to play. I really enjoyed the background music too.
Front Page Sports: Football Pro 1997 (1996)
One of the first sports simulators. I don’t think this one actually had NFL teams, but it was exciting nevertheless to organize and lead a football team to victory.
Steel Panthers (1995)
A WWII battle simulator where you could lead battalion-sized elements (usually 2-3 companies) of troops. The basic unit began with a single squad or vehicle, such as a tank or armored car. The developers and players took pride in the historical accuracy of combat Steel Panthers represented. It reminded me of a digitized board war game.
Age of Empires II (1999)
Take one of several ancient civilizations through periods in history to build a vast and powerful kingdom. Gather resources and research technologies while battling other factions. Age of Empires 2 allowed you to recruit to build huge armies a unit at a time. The time period focused on the kingdoms of the Middle Ages like the Britons, the Spainish and the Byzantines. What added to the game was units that were special to each civilization to make them unique. Multi-player was also a plus for this.
Europa Universalis II (2001)
A real time strategy kingdom building game that’s a little different from most similar games. The difference is that there’s no real time combat. It just “happens”. Set in Europe in the mid-1400s, you had until the mid 1800s to achieve greatness for you empire. Europa Universalis leaned heavily on diplomacy and technology research to achieve world dominance. All out war was discouraged in most cases while expansion through colonization and trade was greatly emphasized. The personality of your monarch had a huge impact as well.
Civilization 3 (2001)
A micro-manager’s dream come true. Take 1 of about 20 or so civilizations (or create your own) and build an empire city by city. Gather natural resources and research technologies to give you an edge over rivals while building up your armies to conquer them. A very deep and immersive game that constantly had you saying “1 more turn”.
Madden 2002 (2001)
Another appealing football simulator. This one actually had “Official” NFL teams in it so you could play your favorite teams and cut all the players that made you mad. What I liked best about Madden 2002 was all the downloadable content that was available. Everything from classic teams to new fictional leagues to playbooks were just a few clicks away. It also had player trading and a draft as well as the ability to create and customize players and team uniforms.
Star Wars – Jedi Outcast (2002)
A first/third person shooter. Play a self-exiled Jedi Knight as he battles his way through solar systems to save his girlfriend and at the same time save the universe. Advance in levels and gain more of “The Force” to face the big, bad Dark Force villain in the final scene. Also featured a multi-player mode where you could battle opponents different competition settings. Several different weapons to use but how could you not put that light saber to good use?
Call of Duty 2 (2005)
Another first-person shooter. This time set in different World War ll scenarios. Play either a Russian soldier protecting his homeland against the Germans, a British soldier in the deserts of North Africa or an American Ranger on D-Day scaling the cliffs at Pont Du Hoc. A very wide array of weapons were available as well as some pretty cool battles, like operating a tank in a huge tank battle in the desert. Multi-player mode was an absolute lick in the pants.
The Total War Series (2000-2012)
The Total War Series featured such titles as Shogun: Total War. Rome: Total War (l & ll), Medieval: Total War (l & ll) and Empire: Total War. While the series has been around for almost 15 years now, the basic game play remains the same. Choose a faction, conquer the world. What I think made the series so appealing was not only the epic battles but the grand scale of the empire building aspects. With each release these aspects of the game have become deeper and more involved (well, depending on who you talk to.) Another popular addition with these games was the “mod-ability” of them. Each release featured literally dozens of mods that range from minor tweaks to complete overhauls.
Mount and Blade (2008)
This First/Third person RPG started out as an independent project by a Turkish guy and his wife. It has grown into an almost cult-like status with throngs of dedicated followers. Set in a Medieval style world, take your character from lowly peasant to noble lord via adventures, tournaments or all out wars. Battle brigands or operate trade caravans while completing missions to build your riches. No magic.
This game also featured a pretty cool mounted combat mode that just added to the fun.
Yet another First Person shooter. Play 1 of 5 different characters in route to discovering a vast ancient treasure after being contacted by an apparition of sorts. Each characters possesses certain traits and special abilities that come into use with advances in level. The gameplay was pretty unique. Set on a backwards “hick” planet you meet some very interesting characters. Most of the weapons seem like they’re almost randomly generated. So no 2 weapons are exactly alike. The graphics were unique as well. Almost like a cartoon I thought. A very violent cartoon.
Fallout 3 (2008, 2010)
With this selection I include the sequel Fallout: New Vegas because, other than for some extra whistles and bells, it’s pretty much the same game in my opinion.
Fallout 3 is incredible in that you could play for hours and never even touch the main missions. Just wandering around encountering different people and places Set in a post-apocalyptic world but with a twist. In this world, the cold war of the 1950s escalated into a nuclear holocaust and the civilized world pretty much stops there. Almost everywhere you go will have a 50ish slant to it. Fallout 3 reminds me of nightmarish Leave It to Beaver setting. You scavenge the ruins of Washington DC as someone searching for his father after living his entire life in the confines of an elaborate bomb shelter society separated from the horrors of a barbaric world above. In New Vegas, you must search in the remains of the deserts around Las Vegas (where a somewhat more organized humanity exists) to find the person who attempted to murder you and recover a curious poker chip that was stolen from you. Of course, there is much more than just the basic quest involved. Tons of side quests and adventures keep game play fresh for quite awhile. Play Good or Evil or in-between as you explore buildings, sewers, wastelands and abandoned cities scavenging for weapons, ammo, food and treasure battling everything from mutated creatures to roving bands of marauders to organized groups of religious fanatics and semi-military armies. Go solo or take on companions as NPCs. This game just blew me away with the endless options that are available. And, as if the games themselves aren’t enough, there are several downloadable add-on adventures as well as mods that will take this game to a whole new level. There are literally hundreds of mods that will keep your interest going for weeks if not months.