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Top Real-Time Strategy Games of All Time?

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the where's-pikmin? dept.

PC Games (Games) 175

Decaffeinated Jedi writes "GameSpy is running a feature looking at the editors' picks for the top real-time strategy games of all time. Included on the list are such classics as StarCraft, Command and Conquer: Red Alert, and Age of Empires. The article looks at each game's significance to the genre as a whole, as well as offering some reader feedback on the editors' choices. Why not grunt rush their server, have a look at their picks, and share some of your own RTS favorites here?"

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Dune 2 (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8180319)

nuff said.

C&C (5, Interesting)

mwheeler01 (625017) | more than 10 years ago | (#8180326)

I was always a big fan of the original Command and Conquer. The units had a nice variety without bogging you down with too many options and the whole concept of RTS was new and exciting to me. I don't think any C&C quite lived up to the original except Red Alert.

Re:C&C (1)

karnal (22275) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181260)

My circle of friends has been playing Generals a lot lately, and all around agree the zero hour expansion pack adds a lot of depth to the different sides, if you will...

The only problem we see is that the sides don't seem all that well balanced compared to something such as Yuri's Revenge (an add on for Red Alert 2). We fired up Yuri's over this past weekend and had a blast (ipx only though....) I don't know; the two games share a lineage, but since EA has the new C&C, it just doesn't feel the same. Not that it's not good; it just feels different.

Re:C&C (original -- Tiberian Dawn) (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181310)

Yes, I loved the original Command & Conquer. It was titled Tiberian Dawn. I bought it from Egghead in 1995 with my college friends. I was a sophomore back and had a 486 DX2/66 then. Boy, did we get addicted! Modem play so often and we never did any studying. :)

Whatever happened to C&C:Twilight or something like that?

Re:C&C (original -- Tiberian Dawn) (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181463)

Tiberian Sun was the sequel to Tiberian Dawn, but, imo, wasn't a very good game. You can probably pick it up for next to nothing now, and iirc they're selling it in a 4-pack with RA2 and the expansions.

If they had decided to do a Tiberian Twilight, it probably got shelved for Generals, and may be something they'll work on in a few years. Last I heard, they're working on a LotR RTS with the movie license and a massively upgraded Generals engine.

Of course, there's also a possibility that we'll see a 3rd Red Alert before we see Tiberian Twilight, given that RA2 and the expansion seemed to do better than Tiberian Sun and that expansion.

Re:C&C (original -- Tiberian Dawn) (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181598)

Yeah, Tiberian Sun was my least favorite game. I bought every C&C games (excluding the expansion except Zero Hours for C&C:G).

Thanks for replying. :)

Re:C&C (1)

benlinkknilneb (708649) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182202)

Generals may feel a little different from the old C&C, but I think it lived up to its lineage. I haven't played the expansions yet... but the basic game is very, very good. The only thing we seem to still be missing is a good air-to-air battle system... and I was a bit upset that they took the seafaring units out of the game. Bring them back!

Re:C&C (1)

dmachine (519368) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182384)

I didn't like the original C&C that much, because I had already played Dune II and it seemed that C&C was a step backwards (a step forward in the graphics departmnet, but a step backwards in gameplay). Red Alert was fun though. Nothing like zapping something with a tesla coil =D

Total Annihilation? (0, Flamebait)

Recoil_42 (665710) | more than 10 years ago | (#8180327)

I haven't RTFA yet, but the summary has no mention of TA? Fargo rated it as his favorite of all time in an article a while back, and most RTS debates i've heard are Starcraft VS TA.... whow could they make such an obvious mistake of excluding TA?

Re:Total Annihilation? (1)

Decaffeinated Jedi (648571) | more than 10 years ago | (#8180359)

Although it wasn't mentioned in the Slashdot write-up (so as not to spoil the list), the GameSpy editors did pick Total Annihilation as their top RTS game of all time. Personally, I think they hit the nail on the head. I've yet to play another RTS game that has done so many things so right as Total Annihilation. What a blast...

Re:Total Annihilation? (3, Insightful)

fireduck (197000) | more than 10 years ago | (#8180482)

I had several issues with Total Annihilation that apparently the gamespy editors overlook or praise.

Although gamespy liked the graphics, I had a big problem with them. Yes, it was 3D, which made for some beautiful maps. However, the units, IMO, were plainer than plain. They were all boxey and ultimately had very little character (as contrasted to Starcraft, where eveything was quite distinct and enjoyable to look at, and listen to).

Then you've got this comment "You don't just order an attack -- you send in a WAVE of hundreds of units, a wall of steel death that will fill the screen with awesome-looking explosions for minutes on end. You can build a nuclear missile capable of destroying a screen full of units, but it's worthless to build just one: Typically, you send them over in batches of a dozen or more. Obscene? YES. That's Total Annihilation! Every game was non-stop action, carnage, and brutality at a level never seen before or since. ". While I am sure there was lots of strategy involved in competitive TA play, this statement belies that fact. Mass and attack has very little strategy to it. Weapons that destroy an entire screen full of units, that can be mass produced, is not much in the way of strategy. Its like asking a 12 year-old and a 40 year-old their favorite movie. One is going to say "Super death explosion 12" while the other is going to say "Mystic River".

Perhaps, I'll dust off TA and give it another try. Being a Blizzard fan, I never really got into it all that much.

However, I was a little disappointed not to see mention of one of the best RTS pre-cursors, Sun Tzu's Ancient Art of War. That game had many of the elements that are in current games and did it back in the mid 80s.

Also, another game not mentioned was 7 Kingdoms or its sequel. While I could never really get into it, it did have a number of really interesting features that I would love to see in future games, such as spies that took on the enemies color and could be integrated into their force.

Re:Total Annihilation? (4, Informative)

MarcoAtWork (28889) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181091)

While I am sure there was lots of strategy involved in competitive TA play, this statement belies that fact. Mass and attack has very little strategy to it.

I used to play TA tournaments: a LOT of strategy was involved (especially before Cavedog started monkeying around with the balance with the units they released weekly, after Chris Taylor left IMHO things went downhill pretty fast).

Yes, when you see newbies play it's going to be pretty boring, but expert play is a completely different kettle of fish. It =can= happen even among experts that you'll have a pretty sizeable battle where you throw everything at your opponent, but obviously before you do that you have to be pretty sure you're going to win (recon, selective bombing, multiple fronts, ...). In my experience low level harassment from the start, multiple bases and territory control were much surer paths to victory.

TA's greatest strenght is its UI in my opinion, being able to queue things so easily, creating groups, pathing, guarding and so on gives a lot of flexibility to the experienced player.

Install TA, grab TA:M (TA mutation) and some of the latest AIs (that are MUCH better than the one shipped with the game) and you'll have a lot of fun, believe me.

Re:Total Annihilation? (1)

ParadoxicalPostulate (729766) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181614)

Also, another game not mentioned was 7 Kingdoms or its sequel.
I bought and played Seven Kingdoms II several years ago.
Overall, I wasn't terribly impressed. It had some novel ideas (the spy and mercenary system) but overall it failed to hold the attention of gamers.
The single player campaign (although randomized) was not terribly interesting - human civilizations fighting a war against demons (the Frythans) sounded pretty cliche to me. Plus, when they went for the randomized campaigns they had to ditch something called a storyline .
Outside of the campaign, the gameplay was interesting at first, since you had the opportunity to build and conquer cities and resources (reminded me of Civilization II, much better graphics). The different civilizations had their own unique units but other than that and the city art you could hardly tell you were playing one race or another.
Control of units in battle was annoying as anything, often times pathfinding was poor and terribly slow. Still, large battles gave you a chance to sit back and enjoy listening to the grunts and sounds of battle.
Nevertheless, Seven Kingdoms II must be credited with two things in particular: heros and espionage. The two were fairly well done and added a new perspective as opposed to games of its time.

Re:Total Annihilation? (1)

mwheeler01 (625017) | more than 10 years ago | (#8180362)

good point, I liked that game a lot, especially the new units that could be introduced and the water units were nicely done but it got to the point where there were to many units for me to remember which was the best for which situation. Maybe I just didn't play it enough.

THEN RTFA (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8180371)

RTFA then, you fucking titface! It's number one on there.

Re:Total Annihilation? (1)

Recoil_42 (665710) | more than 10 years ago | (#8180434)

my mistake, its #1 [] ... the slashdot submitter really should have mentioned it, at least...

Re:Total Annihilation? (1)

Decaffeinated Jedi (648571) | more than 10 years ago | (#8180447)

As I said above, I didn't want to spoil the list when I submitted the story. Where's the fun in that? ;)

Re:Total Annihilation? (1)

Carmelia (718891) | more than 10 years ago | (#8180521)

As I said above, I didn't want to spoil the list when I submitted the story.
Why? Gamespy pays you by the click or something?
I don't see how putting the list on ./ would spoil anything

Re:Total Annihilation? (1)

Decaffeinated Jedi (648571) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181860)

Curses! My under-the-table funding from GameSpy has been uncovered!

/me disappears into the shadows.

Well, they're damn right! (1)

Lord_Frodo (710754) | more than 10 years ago | (#8180796)

#1 on the list... hell yeah. I still have over a gigabyte of TA stuff, and I play it more than any other strategy game out there to this day. Finally they get something correct :D

Age of Empires II (2, Interesting)

kneecarrot (646291) | more than 10 years ago | (#8180351)

I am not a person prone to obsessive behaviour, but when I fired up AOEII, I would often play all night until the sun rose the next day. This is during the week and with a 9 to 5 job.

There is nothing like building an impenetrable fortress and a huge assault force and then unleashing your army on a neighbour.

I love love love that game. I love it. Love love love. Am I gushing? Sorry. :)

Re:Age of Empires II (2, Funny)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 10 years ago | (#8180943)

"There is nothing like building an impenetrable fortress and a huge assault force and then unleashing your army on a neighbour."

I used to have fun setting up traps for my neighbour. Once I set up a Burger King-esuqe maze for him to walk back and forth through while towers picked away at his army. Heh. I had fun listening to him swear from the next cube.

Re:Age of Empires II (1)

kneecarrot (646291) | more than 10 years ago | (#8180999)

I have only a single question for you. And here it is:

What is a Burger King-esque maze?

Re:Age of Empires II (2, Funny)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181077)

"What is a Burger King-esque maze?"

At Burger King , they have this maze in front of the counter that you have to walk back and forth through before getting to the counter to order your meal. The place is never busy, but you still go in back and forth and back and forth. It's like "When I complete this, can I have a piece of cheese?"

Re:Age of Empires II (1)

kisrael (134664) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181194)

Ah, more canonically associated with the bank teller's line... I have seen 'em at BK, but I think I've seen some BK's without one, or at least with one that only has one pass...

Re:Age of Empires II (1)

BigZaphod (12942) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181722)

Never busy? Man, you need to go there during lunch sometime. The BK near me has people almost spilling out the door at noon. I, for one, and glad they have the maze--it keeps people from clogging up the access to the bathrooms... And not only that, it's way fun to have BK maze races. (Just don't do it when they have those helpful "caution, floor is wet" signs out...)

Followup game by the AoE guy (1)

devphil (51341) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181047)

After doing the AoE expansion pack and some other stuff, he did Empire Earth. Similar idea, but this time "done right".

Re:Followup game by the AoE guy (1)

fireduck (197000) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181416)

does Empire Earth fix the biggest problem I had with the whole Age series, namely the lack of an "attack move"? AOE2 is a great looking game, but coming from the blizzard RTS school, I just found it frustrating that I would have to move my units in short increments if I wanted to be sure they would attack stuff on the way to their destinations. Incredibly annoying. 2 armies could just walk through each other, unless 1 player explicitly gave his men the stop command.

But then again, AOE2 introduced the "find idle unit" command which was pure heaven.

M.U.L.E. (1)

ip_vjl (410654) | more than 10 years ago | (#8180355)

Not really sure if it fits the RTS genre ... but I still fire up the Atari emulator to put in a round every now and then.

playing dune 2 (4, Interesting)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 10 years ago | (#8180369)

should work quite well on dosbox [] .

It was just great when it came :)

too bad I never liked the rts games that came after it as much, imho most of them were lacking in atmosphere.

though, I'd count populous 1 as rts anyways :)

Re:playing dune 2 (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181700)

Dune 2 was the first RTS game I ever played in my life. It was before the first C&C game. I was still in high school when I played it on my IBM PS/2 30 286 (10 Mhz; 1 or 4 MB of RAM)?

I also bought Dune 2000 and Emperor: Battle for Dune. They were not great as the original game. Emperor was a better game than Dune 2000. Maybe EA Pacific (formerly Westwood Studios) should stop making Dune RTS games. :)

Up until 4 (2, Insightful)

Apreche (239272) | more than 10 years ago | (#8180378)

Up until #4 warcraft 3 every game on the list was crap. They should have inserted warcraft 2 at #4 warcraft 3 at #5 and warcraft 1 at #6. The original C&C should have come in at #7. The rest can stay the way it is.

Warcraft 1 was not THAT great (4, Insightful)

MMaestro (585010) | more than 10 years ago | (#8180662)

Warcraft 2 should've been on the list but Warcraft 1? I'm thinking you have jaded memories.

Warcraft 1 lacked ease of use compared to Warcraft 2. Most notable point : No ability to right click movement. Thats right, everytime you wanted a group, which was limited to FOUR, you had to click 'M', and left click. Not only that you couldn't group units using the now standard Ctrl-# method, so juggling troops in the middle of a battle was a near impossibility. There was no "attack movement" either so strategies generally degraded into throwing armies at your opponent and then spending time telling each unit to engage the enemy over and over. Warcraft 1 was the equal of Warcraft 2 in an Alpha stage, a shoddy piece of crap which kept people playing because of the art and graphics. It didn't help that the only differences were their spells either, or the fact that all your building had to be connected to your town hall by ROADS... which had to be built (read : waste of money) INDIVIDUALLY (read : the computer will unfairly bum rush you).

To say every game before Warcraft 3 on the list is crap is ignorant. Dune 2 crap? Yeah, ignorant.

Re:Warcraft 1 was not THAT great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8180874)

yeah, I'll say it. Dune 2 is crap. Most RTS games are crap actually. A few shine through that are extremely good. But the genre as a whole is very fickle. If the design isn't executed perfectly the game will be flawed and stupid. That's why Total Annihilation is still king. It was so expertly executed that no game since has been able to even come close.

Re:Warcraft 1 was not THAT great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8181242)

Of course, it's also well-known that most of the Total Annihilation fanboys think everything that isn't TA is crap.

Re:Warcraft 1 was not THAT great (1)

TwistedGreen (80055) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181366)

Well, to be fair, Warcraft I was a very different game, and the interface merely reflected that.

It was paced much slower than its successors, and I think that you could see elements from a more turn-based conception peeking out beneath the real-time gameplay. For example, you could effectively move only one unit or small groups of units at a time, and none of the interface improvements which allowed for quicker gameplay as in Warcraft II were there. Also, the idea of roads are akin to Dune II's concrete slabs: it was one method of limiting expansion that was tried and eventually phased out.

Overall, it was a more rigid game, but I don't think that makes it bad per se. It was a step in the evolution of RTS games which remains quite playable today.

Re:Warcraft 1 was not THAT great (1)

Paolomania (160098) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181844)

Um, lets consider the context shall we? If Warcraft 1 pre-dated context-sensitive right-clicking, selecting larger groups of units, grouping units by hotkey, etc then BY DEFINITION it would not have those things. The ultimate godly RTS does not come fullborn into the world with all the features we have today. There are incremental improvements - Herzog Zvei, Dune 2, Warcraft, C & C, each adds onto the improvements that came in the last. To say that Warcraft 1 retroactively sucks because Warcraft III has tons of new features and shiny graphics is like saying that Doom retroactively sucks because Quake III is true-3D and has shiny new graphics. However, it is clear that at the time Doom was the pinnacle of the FPS, just as at the time Warcraft I was the pinnacle of RTS. You cannot ignore the historical signifigance that each played with respect to the vaulting of their genre and the inspiration of subsequent me-too-but-better titles.

Re:Up until 4 (1)

Orien (720204) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181108)

While I don't agree with your rankings, Warcraft II definitely needs to be on the list. I still play it. In fact, I use it as my cut off for old hardware. If a computer is too old to run Warcraft II at playable speed, then I don't keep it. My only beef with it is that the PC version doesn't support direct TCP/IP. I wish Blizzard would open up the code so that could be done. I have to use one of my old power macs if I want to play over the internet with someone. (and yes, I know about, I prefer a direct TCP/IP game when playing with people I know).

Where's mah TA? (-1, Troll)

Omicron32 (646469) | more than 10 years ago | (#8180468)

I refuse the RTFA (being on /. and all...) but I swear TA better be in there somewhere.

yay! (1)

ceejayoz (567949) | more than 10 years ago | (#8180473)

Homeworld made the list, #6!

Yay. :-)

Re:yay! (3, Interesting)

ParadoxicalPostulate (729766) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181773)

I actually didn't finish the single player campaign in Homeworld (I had borrowed the game and had to give it back) but I can say I was dazzled by the 3-D dimension. I mean, the did it perfectly. Once used to the system, you could send small sories on intercept routes varying at angles, and catch the enemy from three different directions, all the while maintaining an escape route.

The one thing that bothered me was the lack of sufficient variety in units. More units, different spaceships, maybe a history to the units...that would have made it much cooler when you actually saw them in action.

Its really unfortunate that none of the big names in RTS picked up on this idea, because I think it has amazing potential.

Imagine rendering hundreds of ships in a raging 3-D battle in an asteroid field just outside a binary system. Wow.

Rise of the Nations (2, Interesting)

Utopia (149375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8180484)

Strategy games & adventure games are the only games I ever play.
My current favorite is Rise of the Nations [] .
Before that Stronghold [] used to take a big chunk of my time.

Re:Rise of the Nations (1)

ParadoxicalPostulate (729766) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181725)

I was a beta-tester for Rise of Nations.

The poor coordination in the beta program left me with a feeling of loss. The first version they shipped out to us was horribly, horribly bugged - in terms of artwork and game playability, as well as video card driver support (I had to downgrade my drivers until I figured out how to edit the game files to make it work with higher level drivers...I don't know if the game developers fixed the problem till much later).

Still, when I finally got to playing the game I enjoyed it immensely. It looked to me like a cross between my beloved Age of Empires and Civilization - and the Conquer the World mode was pure Risk.

The variety in terms of battle was lovely, as well as the graphics. I am a great fan of building, and I got plenty of it in Rise of Nations.

Deciding whether to use Nukes or ICBMs in the interest of the environment (there was a limit to how many nukes could be fired during the game, crossing it meant defeat for all players). Using a huge fleet of bombers to decimate cities (worked much better than IRL). Waiting for the right time to capture a city and fortify it. Definitely variety.

The only regret was the oversimplification of the science and technology system. I mean, it seemed to me that I was just clicking buttons - in no way did I feel that my civilization was moving forward (until the architecture of my buildings changed). I felt that they could have made it a little more engaging than having the basic descriptions.

Seven Kindoms II (1)

HawkPilot (730860) | more than 10 years ago | (#8180490)

The great thing about Seven Kingdoms II was the espionage aspect of the game. Truely unique and made for interesting diplomocy. (Which was always broken in AOE and others).

Also, the concept of character leadership and changing hitpoints was a great feature. If your General had high leadership points, his troops would get extra damage bonus.

It's only failing was lack of single player replayability, IMHO

Starcraft? (-1, Flamebait)

mahdi13 (660205) | more than 10 years ago | (#8180500)

Please, that was the most boring, pointless waste of time I've ever spent. All the missions were nearly identical and every mission ended with a rush.
If you find fending off rush after rush after rush fun...Starcraft is the game for you.
If you are looking for something with a little more "Statagy" look somewhere else.

Re:Starcraft? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8180953)

Not to mention the fact that Starcraft was not the first game to feature more than two unique sides...

Re:Starcraft? (3, Interesting)

GreyWolf3000 (468618) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181309)

I totally disagree. Once you got good at Starcraft, you could defend any rush, and folks that tried it got screwed in the end because of their overdedication to early units. Rushing only worked on newbies.

The missions were pointless. That's what was for. That's where the strategy was.

Starcraft balanced recourse gathering, unit and building production, expansion, technological progression, and battle tactics in a clear and elegant way.

In my opinion the only problem with Starcraft was people's tendency to play games with lots of resources (think Big Game Hunters) and sit behind defenses and build carriers. It made it hard to find a game with decent players :)

Re:Starcraft? (1)

Rallion (711805) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181859)

Actually, in Brood Wars, I loved playing against people who went straight for Carriers or Battlecruisers. With some good scouting (easy to do against said players) it's obvious what they're doing. And an army of Dark Archons prepped for Mind Control is all it takes to win the game. And, sometimes (this is the part I love) making the other guy cry.

I did this against one player four times in a row.

Re:Starcraft? (1)

ParadoxicalPostulate (729766) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181960)

I think Blizzard's AI was absolutely amazing.

Arguably the best AI I've ever played against.

Re:Starcraft? (2, Insightful)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181509)

The only game to have 3 completely different types of armies, buildings are done completely different, and everything is balanced across the boards? I think you are quite mistaken.

Rushes kinda killed the game, cause its a way for a decent player to discourage those that learn. Experts playing never even rush, cause if your opponent knows how to defend it, you are toast.

Dominion: Storm over Gift 3 (1)

Reducer2001 (197985) | more than 10 years ago | (#8180517)

Why didn't this make the list!!!!!???!

Re:Dominion: Storm over Gift 3 (1)

TwistedGreen (80055) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181387)

It's probably because I've never heard of it.

Re:Dominion: Storm over Gift 3 (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181520)

Dominion [] was one of the first Ion Storm titles released, and was almost universally panned [] .

Kohan (2, Interesting)

buddy53711 (685098) | more than 10 years ago | (#8180543)

I picked up Kohan: Ahriman's Gift on a whim and can honestly say it is one of the most interesting of all the RTS's I own. It has depth of play that other RTS's really don't even approach and allows you to actually use strategy and tactics, a concept that is slowly becoming foreign to the so called RTS genre. This is a rant for another day though. If you are interested in trying out this little known wonder, I believe there is a demo out for it. I think you can find it at Timegate Studios. Its an Oldie but a Goodie.

Re:Kohan (2, Informative)

Lonath (249354) | more than 10 years ago | (#8180948)

Ok, you don't want to rant, so I'll rant. Kohan and Kohan: Ahriman's Gift are now my favorite RTSes. Timegate did an amazing job turning the clickfest/mircomanagement RTS into a real strategy game. Here are some of the features I like:

  • You buy units in companies and those companies have great AI and fight well together. If they've lost units in combat and can escape to near a friendly city, they will eventually regenerate all of their units.

  • Cities don't consist of 50 little buildings on the screen. Cities are atomic and can be upgraded to produce new kinds of units and resources and they have automatic garrisons that can defend them.

  • Mines and resources don't require dozens little peons/villagers running around collecting stuff. The resource system is such that cities and mines increase resource numbers like stone, wood, ore, and mana crystals. Each unit uses some of the resources as upkeep (constant upkeep since remember they can auto-regenerate) and if you don't have enough resource of a certain type, you lose gold and running out of gold makes causes your units to lose health and so forth.

It just takes a lot of the crappy horrible micromanaging clickfestish crap out of the RTS and lets you focus more on planning bigger things, and the fastest player or the fastest rusher won't necessarily be the best player. It's a lot of fun and I recommend it if you want a very different RTS.

Re:Kohan (1)

tedgyz (515156) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181107)

Agreed. Kohan: Ahriman's Gift was a truly evolutionary game for me. It really made all the other RTS games seem like micromanagement clickfests. I still agree with TA being a top game - I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The choice is obvious: (2, Interesting)

TwistedGreen (80055) | more than 10 years ago | (#8180549)

Warcraft II. It's still a fantastic game today, and it's going on what, 9 years now?

I can't say I developed much of a taste for Warcraft III, though. Adding that whole 'hero' aspect just wasn't my style.

Not a bad list... (3, Informative)

American AC in Paris (230456) | more than 10 years ago | (#8180581)

...though if I'd put it together, I would have boosted Rise of Nations a bit and pulled Warcraft III back a bit.

RoN is a truly amazing game once you get the basics down. It takes a while to get to a point where you feel "in control" of what is going on--for example, there are five different resources to juggle, and your military strategy needs to change significantly as you progress through the ages. What makes it stand apart from the other games in this list is that there is so much to juggle that you've got a lot more control over how to play out the game than you do in other games. There simply isn't a recipe for "how to win a game"; once you've gone beyond a few basic opening strategies, it's wide open. What's more, there's far less unit micromanagement than in other games in the genre: you send your armies into battle and control formations, but you rarely need to do the "now you attack this here" bit. Some people like this; to me, it goes against the nature of the RTS, changing it from being a game of strategy to being a game of who can click which units the fastest and most accurately.

Warcraft III was pretty and engaging, but it eventually boiled down to the classic Rock-Paper-Scissors style combat that dominates the genre. It's more of an action game than a strategy game, IMHO--gameplay relies on developing and guiding your heroes to determine the outcome of the battle, making it more of a dungeon crawl than a strategic title.

TA deserves that first place award. It's one of the few old-school RTS games I can still play and thoroughly enjoy. I'd love to see the engine updated to take advantage of modern hardware and UI enhancements...

Thermonuclear war? (1)

Thakandar2 (260848) | more than 10 years ago | (#8180618)

The computer is actually hard to beat. Plus, as far as I can remember, its the earliest WARGAMES for any system. The inclusion of a time restriction was a great idea.

Total Annihilation... (1, Insightful)

sirmikester (634831) | more than 10 years ago | (#8180628)

How could they make that the first pick! I played the game and I have to say that I have never been so bored in my life. I think that the hallmark of a great game is that you're immersed by it from the very first click. To put that game in and not include Warcraft 1 or 2 is offensive.

Re:Total Annihilation... (3, Insightful)

forged (206127) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181052)

Hey I was going frenetically thorugh the list, searching for TA... Not 10tjh, not 9th, and so on. I was already thinking, "how could they NOT include TA in the top 10" until I finally clicked o nthe last link almost in desperation.... and there it was !!!!

I don't know if I would have ra,ked it 1str, because the others listed in there are serious competition. but it's cool to see my best game ever as #1 ! For once things go my way, heh :) Some of you must know the feeling..

TA and extension packs (TA:CC, TA:BT) are the last games that I bought, and I still have them installed on my current computer, 2 generations later. I'm still playing it occasionnally, although not quite as much as I was in '97/98 !

Re:Total Annihilation... (1)

scrytch (9198) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181655)

"Me Too" for TA. Smooth fluid animation, dozens of units, an intuitive control system, an expandable and hackable system, and my god the awesome music... Nothing quite like seeing hundreds of twisted burnt metal wrecks amidst the scorched landscape after a fierce battle while the Mahler-esque orchestra blares bombastically. Starcraft had nothing on TA.

I'd call it a tie with Myth.

Re:Total Annihilation... (5, Informative)

mstorer3772 (526790) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181675)

How could they make it first pick? Because it rocked.

They're right. It was WAY ahead of it's time. Games today STILL don't give you the level of control that TA did.

Controls TA pioneered:
Order queuing: Hold down shift and you can give a unit a giant stack of orders. No limit (save memory I'd imagine). Warcraft 3 had it, 2 didn't. Starcraft didn't either.

Factory orders: You give an order queue to a factory, and every unit it produced would get those orders. This feature has yet to be duplicated (to my knowledge).

Factory groups: If you assigned a control group to a factory, every unit it produced was also in that group. I haven't seen this duplicated either.

Seperate move & shoot behavior controls: Some games give you the option of having a unit be agressive or passive or whatever, but TA seperated movement and firing options. For movement you had "hold still, tether (follow enemy a short distance and then return), and free roam". For attacking, they had "hold fire, return fire, and fire at will". In warcraft three you can order a unit to hold still, but you can't order it to hold it's fire.

Select all of *: TA had LOTS of keyboard shortcuts to let you select all of a particular group of units. Some of those groups included "all units that can attack", "air units" "ships", "construction units", "all the units on the current screen", "all units of the same type as the ones currently selected", stuff like that. Oh, and "all units".

Production Queues: You could order a factory to keep producing a given unit forever. You could order 5 fighers, then 10 bombers, then 5 more fighters, then 3 scouts, THEN keep building fighters forever.

Foritifications: You were allowed to build little barracades called "dragons teeth". They could be shot over with indirect-fire weapons, but direct fire hit them, and it took quite a bit of damage to destroy them. You could build your own walls.

Pay as you go production: Producing units drained resources over time, rather than paying for everything up front.

Unlimited resources: There was no limit on how much of a given resource was present. A "metal patch" with a miner on it would continue producing X-metal-per-second until it was destroyed. More of a gameplay descision than a control feature, but still noteworthy.

If you didn't like TA, you either :
* Need to take another look
* Don't have the same tastes as right-thinking people (me).

And it was REALLY mod-able. Quite a few total conversions floating around out there. Sadly, many were based on someone else's IP and shut down (star wars, various other RTS's duplicated in TA, stuff like that).

Incidentally, Chris Taylor did quite a bit of "new spin on old ideas" in Dungeon Siege too. Sadly, he seems to have removed some "fun" stuff, along with many of the hassles. And I pray that he goes back and does that sci-fi RTS he's threatened to do on occasion.

No Myth? (4, Interesting)

Xzzy (111297) | more than 10 years ago | (#8180705)

I know the game was always sort of a "sleeper" that never broke it big like heavy hitters such as Starcraft did, but Myth was still incredibly well done, and I've never come across a person who flat out didn't like it.

It's strongest quality was mostly the fact that it cut out all the annoying resource gathering and just let you work on the strategy part of killing your enemies.

I was hoping the ideas it brought to the genre would catch on (I think maybe Sacrifice is the only game I've played since that comes close) but it never caught on.

Doesn't change that it was an awesome game though.. I would have replaced that stinker 'Age of Empires' with Myth on that list any day. ;)

Re:No Myth? (1)

Reapy (688651) | more than 10 years ago | (#8180889)

Yes! Myth and Myth II were so much fun. I always loved the "big" maps like creep on the borderlands and desert between your ears. What a great game. It's unfortunate no one has attempted to copy them and improve on the formula (myth 3 felt too much the same by the time it came around).

Re:No Myth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8181376)

Do you need the term real-time explained to you?

Re:No Myth? (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181540)

Do you need the term real-time explained to you?

Apparently the AC that posted this comment does, because Myth was very much a real-time title. The major difference is that Myth wasn't a resource-gathering/unit-building title, but instead involved tactical and strategy elements as the most important part of the game, probably making it more of an RTS than most of the titles normally given that genre label.

Re:No Myth? (1)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181443)

Myth was never really fully accepted as a 'real time strategy'. They considered it more a 'real time tactical', because you worked mostly at the tactics of battle, not resource consumption and building, etc...

Re:No Myth? (1)

Bander (2001) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181908)

Myth is more of a real time tactical game. Strategy technically includes resource management and so forth. On the other hand, game makers lump tactics into the "strategy" label, so I think we can do the same.

Myth is clearly the best real-time strategy game ever. Personally, I believe it's one of the best games ever, in any genre.

King of the Hill in Myth had some intense multiplayer action... Rushing the defenders with 10 seconds left on the clock, holding the flag in neutral until your wight gets there, huge poisonous explosion, and your last surviving thrall is still close enough to the flag to clinch the win!

Good times... good times.

-- Bander

Re:No Myth? (1)

kommakazi (610098) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182298)

I agree, Myth is one of my favorite games of all time, especially the first one. I loved the map with the big pit in the center...I can't remember it's name...but that was the most fun map to play capture the flag on...just cuz the flag was in the center in the bottom of a big pit...go for it too early and get toasted by everyone else waiting around the perimiter for time to get low...the last minute everyone rushes in and usually the round is won in overtime....god that shit was fun...

What? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8180719)

You mean there's a difference between them?

C&C: RA2 (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 10 years ago | (#8180904)

I always liked C&C: RA2. With the wonderful actresses [] .

Battlezone, Battlezone, Battlezone (4, Insightful)

GregWebb (26123) | more than 10 years ago | (#8180924)

Honestly, just play it - superb atmosphere, superb gameplay but never really took off - seems people weren't so hot on first person perspective for these things. Personally, I think it just makes it wonderfully immersive.

Also, I tend to get annoyed with the number of RTS games where you're winning wherever you go, mopping up every last unit of resistance and levelling the battlefield. Battlezone isn't like that - you're constantly battling to get out of the level alive and achieve the objectives before you get overpowered. That crucial difference leads to a very different mindset that I find more enjoyable in the long-term because you don't tend to end up with levels where you're hanging around for ages desperately trying to build up the army for the last final push, knowing you'll make it eventually just by storming the base and killing them all. You have to get it right just to live, and that's a victory in itself.

Superb game - if you can track it down, do.

Re:Battlezone, Battlezone, Battlezone (1)

darkmayo (251580) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181967)

Battlezone was more of a hybrid than a pure RTS.. it definately had some great elements of an RTS but the combat was very FPS/Simulator than RTS combat.

Reminds me of Command and Conqueor Renegade. cept a hell of alot better.

Re:Battlezone, Battlezone, Battlezone (1)

GregWebb (26123) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182090)

I know what you mean but I (personally) find it difficult to think of something where you're:

* Gathering resources
* Building bases
* Commanding units
* Attacking enemies

and all in a mission-based structure, in real-time, as anything other than a descendent of Dune 2.

Stuff genres, though - I don't care whether something fits or not and it's very, very good.

Europa Universalis 2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8180926)

Europa Universalis 2 is a very good strategy game that has occupied 100s of hours of my time in the last couple of years. It was developped by a swedish company called Paradox:

The game is real time but pausable and the speed is variable. It gives it almost the same feeling of "one more turn" you had with Civilization. There is a multiplayer option but I've never used it so I can't comment on it.

However, it's somewhat of a niche game and has a very steep learning curve. Reading the developper's forums is far mor useful than the manual to learn the game mechanics.

Another of its strength is the amount of modding available since a lot of the game mechanics can be changed through text file editing.

By the same developper, there's also a WW2 game called Hearts of Iron and a new game called Victoria. That last one is pretty good but it needs an extra balancing patch before it matures fully. It also has an ever steeper learning curve than previous games by Paradox.

One glaring omission (1)

dogbowl (75870) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181005)

Where is Advance Wars for the gameboy?

Sure, I've played tons of hours on PC based RTS games and I did my time with the original C&C and Starcraft, but these guys didn't even give a nod to the million+ selling Advance Wars series (which by the way started well before the Herzog Zwei on the Genesis).

Sure its not as 3D pretty as PC based ones, but its portable and majorly addicting. I've killed more flights with that game .. actually that game has caused more stewardesses to ask me to "please turn off your electronic device" more so than anyu other game. Compared to the PC based RTS, its very simple .. but its wonderfully balanced and terrable addicting.

Maybe I'm expecting a little too much out of Gamespot, but if they claim to produce a list of top RTS games "of all time!!!" then I would hope they would look a little beyond recent PC based games. What about Utopia on the Intellivision?

Advance Wars? Um... (4, Insightful)

OgdEnigmaX (535667) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181081)

Perhaps it wasn't included because it's not an RTS?

Re:Advance Wars? Um... (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181198)

Don't you love it when people don't understand what the RT in RTS stands for?

In case the original poster didn't get the hint, Advance Wars is turn-based, RTS games are (R)eal (T)ime.

While I enjoy Advance Wars and a number of S/TRPGs, they don't belong in a list of RTS games, unless, at the very least, they're actually real time rather than turn based games.

The List (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8181172)

1. Total Annihilation
2. StarCraft w/ Brood War
3. C&C Red Alert
4. WarCraft 3
5. Age of Empires
6. Homeworld
7. Close Combat 2
8. Rise of Nations
9. Medieval: Total War
10. Empire Earth
Honorable Mention: Dune 2

Total Annihilation: Kingdoms (1)

tedgyz (515156) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181177)

Although I can see why TA: Kingdoms didn't make the list, I never understood why it was so badly received by the gamer community. Of all the RTS games I ever played, this one ranks top on my list. It was incredibly fun. There were many interface improvements over TA (which says a lot) and I found the fantasy theme to give us much more interesting and distinguishable units. One thing I disliked about TA was how hard it was to visually identify specific units.

As I recall, the biggest complaint was that most people's computers could not cope with the steep requirements of the game. Most of this was resolved within the same year of the game's release.

Total Annihalation (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181373)

TA is grossly over rated. It was a game full of neat toys to build. but the AI sucked very badly. It had much less depth then Startcraft/Warcraft2/Warcraft 3/Age of Empires (all of them). IT was a game about massing and super defense. You mad eyour fortress and then waited to accumulate a large force then attack. Even at high skill levels that was the idea. A early game rush was suicide because of the commanders. The interface was alright but not the be all and end all. It was also lacking in production quality. The units were bland uninspired and mostly identical between the two sides. The developement of each side was identical. It was a game specifically for the low skill "mass rush" crowd. The same crowd that loves C&C. Command and conquer had the same problems. the ammount of tank rushed in that game was stupid. There are few other effective strategies.

Re:Total Annihalation (2, Insightful)

Zeriel (670422) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181923)

Did you ever play against a human opponent? Preferably one who liked the game and knew what s/he was doing?

I ask because I'm a viciously good TA player and I don't think I've EVER seen a successful "mass rush" without thought behind it--as in scouting, diversionary attacks, and multiple fronts.

Sure the AI sucked. But for pure strategy/tactics, it's much better.

And as for Starcraft/Warcraft, I have yet to see a successful player who doesn't use a pre-memorized (And usually researched online) build order for the first five-ten minutes of the game at least. There is no strategy there, just speed.

Personally, I like TA and AoEII for the same reason--the early rush is hard but doable, there's no "build order" that's going to get you units fast enough to make a difference, and you actually have to think about your attacks.

I like TA better because it rewards truly long-term planning. In Warcraft/Starcraft, you knew you had to keep your units at the unit limit, or you were going to get just plain outnumbered--but if you hit the limit, you couldn't (by definition!) be outnumbered.
In addition, you had to balance your resource collection units against your combat units, which is really artificially limiting with the small unit counts you were allowed.
AoEII has this problem to a lesser extent, since a 200-unit (max) barrier is harder to hit than a 75-90 unit max.

But TA has a 500-unit max. And if you're playing a skilled opponent, you never had time to reach it, and you never knew exactly how your numbers compared to the enemies without scouting, feinting, and being very careful. THAT'S the depth I like.

Your mileage may vary, but TA was a great game in terms of raw strategy and helping take the mundane details off the hands of the player (allowing for actual sweeping strategies instead of incessant tactical clickfests).

Was this a typo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8181449)

"...Warcraft III also managed to present players with five very distinct races..."

As far as I can remember, there were only four races.. Human, Night Elf, Undead, and Orc....

Re:Was this a typo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8181825)

I guess they considered the work gone into the Burning Legion as a fifth race.

Or maybe the Naga in the expansion?

I noticed that as well, but I figured I'd let it slide.

Dune 2 (1)

DJayC (595440) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181464)

Dune 2... 'nough said. This was the first RTS game I got into, and by far my favorite. I remember playing it for hours upon hours. Perhaps my worst memory is inviting my best friend over (with his computer), and playing the game all night on different computers... pretty sad!

What's with the honorable mention crap? (2, Interesting)

lake2112 (748837) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181524)

Dune II only getting a honorable mention?? Without Dune II where would the RTS genre be? I remember playing this game and being in complete awe over its originality. It only left me wanting more. This game belongs in the top ten with its fellow RTS games. Screw honorable mentions give it the respect it deserves as one of the top ten RTS of all time.

Warlords Battlecry anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8181561)

Warlords Battlecry, and the very similar but still improved WB2 is a hugely underrated game in my opinion. Standard RTS mostly, but with the inclusion of a RPG hero. Made things much more interesting. You could develop as a warrior, mage, cleric or thief, improve skills and spells, as well as other things. Its fairly cheap at the moment... ive seen it gonig for about 5 in the local shops. Its an excellent game, and if my flatmate never had the origonal, i never would have heard of it.

Do yourself a favour, get the demo from here []

(look for demo under downloads)

My list (1)

Deliveranc3 (629997) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181593)

Dune 2 Warcraft 2 Homeworld Stronghold Lord of the Realm 2 Total Annihilation Starcraft WarZone 2100 Shogun:Total War(Need to try medieval) Speed Chess (Give the old boys their due)

Warcraft II (1)

BigZaphod (12942) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181612)

Warcraft II was basically the benchmark for all RTS games that followed. It was the first RTS game I ever liked and its still one of my all time favorite games.

Does SimCity count? (1)

Murdock037 (469526) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181616)

I know it's labeled a "simulation," but that's just an easy label to give based on its name. (What is the definition of an RTS anyways? You could take the term several ways, and the article doesn't really define it...)

If it counts, it'd be the only game on the table that's not about battle in one way or another.

SimCity was great. SimCity 2000 was better, because its gameplay was considerably deeper. (SC 3000 went a bit too far, I thought, into micromanagement; and so the first sequel in the series reigns to this day.)

You can debate whether or not it's a good thing that the games never really end. I've probably devoted more hours on individual cities than I have on any other single RTS game. I usually only give up when the map is completely urban and completely developed.

It's the sort of game you want to give to kids, because it's not zero-sum and it's not violent.

The graphics are really blocky on a large monitor these days, but the gameplay is as fun as it ever was. (Best of all, you can find it really cheap anywhere that sells old jewel case-only software titles.)

Re:Does SimCity count? (1)

Pluvius (734915) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182364)

I believe that the definition of "RTS" that would be the closest to the truth is this:

A game wherein two or more sides, each of which has a base on a single battle map, build facilities and units in order to destroy the opposing base(s) while defending its own in real time.

This definition excludes games where you don't build units or facilities on the battle map (e.g. the Total War games) or at all (e.g. Myth). Both of those examples would be real-time tactics (within a turn-based strategic shell, in the case of the former). As for games like Europa Universalis, one could consider the world map upon which you play to be a battle map.

Oh, and SimCity doesn't involve battle, therefore you can't really consider it "strategic." (The term implies a military aspect.) "Simulation" would indeed be the best label to give it, as it simulates the real-world process of city-building (though perhaps not very realistically).


Whew (1)

lehyeong (569596) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181783)

I was getting worried that Total Annihilation wouldn't make the list but there it is at the top of the heap.

I loved that game. The tweakability, AI, unit balance, use of terrain etc really were ahead of it's time. Just that fact that the air units were actually bound by the laws of flight rather than being ground units that floated was revolutionary

My favorite strategy was building a base and stocking it with an assload of Big Bertha cannons and missile defenses, setting both to automatically fire at anything that moved. I'd send scout planes (backed up by construction planes on repair duty) to roam the map. As the planes exposed enemy postions and units, the Big Bertha's would automatically target and pound them into oblivion.

Then I'd leave the computer on for a couple hours and come back to see a complete wasteland with nothing standing except for my base.

warcraft3 (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8181803)

On top of the sheer graphical beauty and smaller, more intimate gameplay, Warcraft III also managed to present players with five very distinct races, all with their own talents and unique gameplay style. Balancing the five races was a chore, but Blizzard tweaked and tweaked this sucker for years before allowing it to hit the market. Gamers were rewarded for their patience.

Unless i'm missing a vital patch, warcraft 3 only has four races

Re:warcraft3 (1)

lpp (115405) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181951)

Yep, a critical patch was released not too long ago. Called the Comprehensive Realtime Accessory Companion Kit (or CRACK), once you install it, you gain access to a new race, the Narcolumbians.

Re:warcraft3 (1)

Rallion (711805) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182349)

Yeah, I guess they forgot to play the game. Whoops. In case anybody was wondering, the source of the mistake is that the demons were going to constitute a 'race' at one point. As it is, they ended up just being a small handful of unbuildable units.

Empire Earth made the list? (2, Insightful)

freidog (706941) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181973)

Dear god.
They put out a half finished game and made you wait 6 months before it was playable.
The AI was laughable. It was so poor at resource management it cheated on every difficulty level, evey easy. It was totaly incapable of building an army, it would simply spam buildings and vills with the occasional military unit thrown it.
Nealry every age was hopelessly unbalanced, for a game that stressed how important counter units were, Persian cavarly would dominte everything on the battle field for 3 or 4 ages only to finaly be replaced by another unstoppable army.

Maybe they fixed it in 2.0 patch/Expansion pack but i never stuck around to find out. There were far better games out there, like ones that a person could stand to play.

To put EE on there and snub good games like Warcraft II or Stronghold Crusader or even Cossaks, is inexplicable.

Only two contenders... (4, Interesting)

Ceyan (668082) | more than 10 years ago | (#8181987)

Rise of Nations and Homeworld.

Any other RTS I've ever played I've been able to consistently use overwhelming numbers to beat the other players, be it online or off. Problem is that, yes, there is some strategy involved, and in an evenly matched battle the one who can effectively micromanage special abilities or troops will win. But in all the games I've played (sans the two mentioned, and I've played just about every game called an RTS out there, and some that weren't but still qualified) if you have at least 1.5 times more troops than your enemy, nothing will save you. (I'm talking equally skilled players here, an idiot will lose no matter how many troops he gathers)

Rise of Nations really took the idea of borders to the next level, which made it incredibly hard to effectively attack enemy territory because you could never affect the economy directly (before an assault) of any player with decent skill.

Homeworld because the concept of specific units being effective against other specific units actually mattered. Yes in other games it's been done, and using that to your advantage could mean a win, but it wasn't a critical factor. In Homeworld even basic fighters never really lost their effectiveness against more advanced ships (Fighters ate Ion Frigates for lunch), and combine that with future releases like the Beast infection beam or the cannon you could add to the mining ship, you really had to stop and consider how to make an attack.

I'll throw in two honorable mentions:

#1: Total Annihlation. Although not revolutionary in terms of the engine, the modability and the diverse units (Land, Sea, and Air in a Sci-fi setting) really made this game shine.

#2: Dune 2 and Warcraft 2. These I only mention because they were the games that sparked the RTS industry. Yes others came before them, but these two became so popular that they made the difference. (Just like Half-Life/Couter Strike for FPS, Diablo for dungeon crawls, Falcon series for Flight Combat Sims, etc...)

Quick correction... (1)

Ceyan (668082) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182022)

Forgot to throw in another comment. I'd include the Total War series, but they aren't exactly a pure RTS. And you could win them with massed forces (unless you were fighting across a river or over a castle), the application of strategy wasn't nessecary but it sure in the hell made more difference in the amount of troops you had left than any other game I've played.

Cytron Masters (1)

ReyTFox (676839) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182366)

It had the basics of any modern RTS: unit production, real-time movement, multiplayer(only two though).
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