Despite being one of the most promising real-time strategy games in years, Act of Aggression has almost everything going against it. It’s in a genre that’s been barren for nearly a decade, it hasn’t been marketed worth a lick, it’s exclusive to PC, and it’s being released on September 2 alongside such juggernauts as Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and Mad Max. Whatever you do, though, please don’t let those things deter you; because if you’re a fan of strategy games, you absolutely must check out Eugen Systems’ latest offering. Here are five reasons why.
Let’s face it: these days, sports games suck. Not only are they completely devoid of personality, but they’re also bogged down in annual cycles that leave no room for innovation and guarantee that if you’ve played one, you’ve played them all. EA Sports’ Madden franchise is most guilty of this, but 2K Sports’ NBA 2K franchise isn’t much better. Believe it or not, however, there was once a time in which sports games were actually creative, innovative, and incredibly fun to play. Perhaps even more difficult to believe is that Electronic Arts pioneered such games with efforts like their sadly short-lived Mutant League sports franchise on the Sega Genesis.
Have you ever gone digging through your closet only to rediscover a classic game that you never really played or appreciated quite as much as you should have? I did just that a couple weeks ago, and since then I’ve been lost in pausable real-time strategy heaven. That’s right, pausable real-time strategy. Meet Rise of Nations, winner of multiple 2003 Game of the Year awards and one of the greatest, most sadly underappreciated and overlooked real-time strategy games of all time.
Since the Playstation Vita’s arrival in February of 2012, I’ve been woefully disappointed by its software, especially given the system’s design and capabilities. Sure, we’ve had some great games–Uncharted brought the console experience to a handheld and looked fantastic, Gravity Rush was an awesome, dizzying adventure, Killzone was by far the best shooter on a handheld yet, and Tearaway was a charming, creative title unlike any other. But as most of us know, the smash hits have been far and few between. Uncharted and Gravity Rush were available at or shortly after launch, for example, whereas Killzone and Tearaway didn’t release until late 2013, almost two years later.
It’s been 10 long years since the last Thief game, 2004’s Deadly Shadows, hit store shelves. For whatever reason, the franchise that pioneered and arguably reinvented the stealth genre more or less vanished in the mid 2000s as those like Hitman and Splinter Cell sprang up, then borrowed and capitalized on its formula. Thief fans have since had to resort to modding older games and playing The Dark Mod, a fan-made spiritual successor to the original 1998 game, to get a modern Thief experience. That is until now.
The small town of Gilcresco went 10 years before its first death — a forester named Sheronica. Cause of death? Old age. I, the town’s founder, builder, and overseer, was simultaneously proud and heartbroken. Sheronica had valiantly tended to Gilcresco’s forests since its inception, but I hadn’t yet constructed a cemetery so rather than being given a proper burial and gravestone of remembrance, she was laid to rest somewhere in the wilderness where she’d spent most of her adult life working. When you raise a successful town in Banished, a city builder from one-man-studio Shining Rock Software, you’ll probably feel the same way the moment your first citizen dies — especially if you, like me, completely forget to build a cemetery.
The last time I completed Crysis was way back in 2007, just a couple days after it released. At the time, my PC — equipped with a dual-core AMD processor, two gigs of RAM, and an Nvidia 8800 GTX — struggled to maintain playable frame rates even at Medium settings across the board and at a paltry resolution of 1280×1024. Although I occasionally reinstalled Crysis to benchmark new hardware, I never once sat down to truly appreciate or invest much time into Crytek’s landmark shooter after my first playthrough. That all changed a couple weeks ago when an old Crysis thread on a forum I frequent was bumped, followed by a surge of activity. It was as if someone had awakened a sleeping giant. Excited by the prospect of finally being able to crank up the graphics and maintain playable frame rates, I dug through my closet, located (and dusted off) my boxed copy, then installed the game and fired it up for one last hurrah.