WADE MANNS – The Corsair
First-person shooters are definitely fun, allowing one to virtually kill dastardly enemies (or one’s friends) from behind a gun sight. Role-playing games are deep and involved and often have great stories. Fighting games are full of fast action and arouse a very competitive nature. So where do I turn when I want a break from all that? I turn to strategy games, such as the three series I’ll be spotlighting this time, Overlord, Supreme Commander and Civilization.
Genre: Third-person action-strategy
It’s a bit tricky to see Overlord as anything but a standard third-person action game at first, but there is a strategic element involved. You take command of a group of minions and put them on varied tasks to make them, and you, more powerful, to go through a large, overarching storyline.
You are an evil overlord who had been defeated sometime in the past, and are tasked with regaining your position as the ultimate paragon of badness in the land. But an overlord is nothing without his Minions, and you have (eventually) four types: Browns are the best fighters, and whom you start out with; Reds are flimsy and fling fireballs at range; Greens are hardy and can cloak when still, pouncing on unsuspecting enemies, and Blues attack with magic, can resurrect fallen Minions, and go through water (the others drown).
The sequel follows a similar play-style, introducing mounts for each creature, a slightly different morality scale (whereas a level of Corruption tracked how ‘truly evil’ you were in the first, the second follows a sliding scale of ‘Domination’ and ‘Destruction’, depending on how you choose to accomplish your goals.
Supreme Commander 2
By Gas Powered Games and Eidos Interactive/Square Enix
Genre: Pure real-time strategy
If more cerebral settings are what you crave, turn to the thought-provoking battlefields of Supreme Commander, which often has you handling hundreds of units simultaneously! Fortunately, there is a Strategic view which shows all units on the battlefield with symbols when viewed from far away; and best of all, this view can be applied to a secondary monitor, clearing any obstructions from the conflict at hand.
There’s also a campaign, and a suitable story arching over both games: The Infinite War has raged for over a thousand years. The UEF, a one-world government, seeks to establish Earth as the dominant power in the galaxy and destroy the other two factions. The Aeon Illuminate are descendants of the followers of an alien race whose religious mandate seemed to be to destroy all other races. The Cybran, or cybernetic beings, fight for their freedom from the UEF. The first game deals more in generalities, while the second introduces people whose stories we explore and whose actions we control.
Sid Meier’s Civilization V
By Firaxis Games and 2K Games
Genre: Pure turn-based strategy
The most relaxing breed of strategy is that which has no time limits, no actions happening beyond your control (except those of your opponents, of course) and near-instant feedback and help to guide you along your path. That’s what the storied Civilization franchise has come to with its fifth installment. From a list of around 20 famous world leaders, you pick one, found your nation (which becomes weird when you start as, say, General Washington and begin building the United States… in 4000 BC), build cities, battle barbarians, conduct diplomacy with other nations and city-states, plumb the land for resources and wealth and adopt social policies to better govern your people.
It might sounds pretty overwhelming, and indeed there’s a massive amount of things going on, but fortunately the interface is streamlined to the point that all required information is brought easily to you.
In summary, when you get tired of first-person shooters, role-players and the rest, and if you have a PC, go and try one of these awesome strategy games. Your mind will thank you for feeding it so well!