Each week we’ll look at a tactical game from the past or present and give you our thoughts, what it scored when we first played it, and if it’s old, how it holds up against today’s games. We’ll also let you know where you can find it if it’s still out there in circulation.
In the queue: Myth, Command & Conquer Generals, Ghost Recon
World in Conflict
TGP Grade: 8.0/10
Similar to: Command and Conquer, Age of Empires
Purchase: World In Conflict
World in Conflict is a real time strategy game that is set in a fictional world where the cold war wasn’t so cold and the Soviet Army’s marched on US soil. This may sound the Red Alert series from Command and Conquer, but this time around, you don’t have Tesla Tanks, Terror Drones and Prism towers. This game carries a more real feel to the troops. One of its main points is the “instant action” in which you don’t sit around, gathering resources or building bases. You get a pool of points, and you can spend them on various thinks like troops, tanks, and helicopters. These guys then get air dropped into the place of your choosing. Should one of these people die, the points slowly go back into the pool, where you can then spend it again. The great thing about this system is that it keeps the game balanced. No one can have more than the other guy, everyone gets the same amount of points, and its just up to how you play the game.
The game contains three “factions” which are the US, the U.S.S.R. and NATO. Really, the only difference between these people is aesthetic. All of their units function the same, once again, creating balance, and the expense of diversity. But if you play the game for even a little bit, you find that it works well. In addition to the standard troops, you have a second pool of points which lets you call in support, from artillery barrages to a napalm strike, even to a game ending nuke.
The multiplayer experience has you picking one of four “generals” to work together to defeat the enemy. You have troops, tanks, air and support. Because of this, each team has to use some sort of teamwork to win.
This game also has the ability to use mods and make your own maps, so if you feel the need, there is always something new.
WiC at Wikipedia WiC Official Site
Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear
TGP Initial Grade 9.5/10
Grade in context of today’s games: 8.0/10
Similar To: Rainbow Six
Purchase: Rogue Spear Platinum
Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear is a game based off the characters of the Tom Clancy book “Rainbow Six.” You, as a character are a member of the elite anti-terror squad known as Rainbow. The game has a 10 step planning stage where you learn the story and plan out your attack. This stage is a quite advanced system, which you probably will ignore anyway. It correlates to exactly how you AI partners react, save for the need for “go codes.” It covers the squad attempting to retrieve a “rogue spear” across many urban/indoor environments. It was a technically proficient for the time, and it carries over to today, save for the polygon count and the (what is now a) low frame rate. The core mechanic is strong still, creating one of the best Tactical FPS’ experiences around.
The games Action phase is difficult, but not to a frustrating level (as long as you follow the plan and not rampage with a Spas 12) and it contains a rather intuitive UI and a classy selection of weapons. They guys you get to use are dependent by who’s alive after the previous missions. The game play is a good speed, and it lets tactical action take the upper hand, even in multiplayer. It sets the ground that the much simplified future games in the series walk on.
The game has many available mods, doing a variety of different things, from total conversion to new maps to new skins. This would allow you to customize the game play to suit you.
Rogue Spear on Wikipedia
The Sum Of All Fears is a video game adaptation of the Tom Clancy book and movie of the same name, based on the Ghost Recon engine. The player assumes the role of a member of the FBI Hostage Rescue Team, and takes part in missions related to the story. Because this game was targeted at a more casual gamer than the previous Tom Clancy games, mission planning and teammate control were greatly simplified. While not a great game on it’s own, it offered the Clancy-game fan something to play with in a slightly different fashion, harkening back to Rainbow Six’s action phase with it’s close-quarters, indoor play, while retaining the updated graphics and control scheme of Ghost Recon. That was enough for me to get some enjoyment out of it, as at that point, I couldn’t get enough of GR.
Shortly after TSOAF’s release, a member of The Platoon‘s web community created a mod that would copy all TSOAF’s maps and character skins into Ghost Recon, so that you could play them with all of GR’s complexities. This is what really made it worth the $19.99 price tag it had at release.
TSOAF at Wikipedia
Jagged Alliance 2
TGP initial grade: 9/10
Grade in the context of today’s games: 7/10
Similar to: XCOM
Released in: 1999
Buy it HERE.
Jagged Alliance 2 is an isometric squad oriented turn based shooter that plunges you into the depths of a revolution against the tyrannical leader of the small island nation of Arulco. Featuring control of up to three squads of six mercenaries each with their own specialties, it is up to the player to not only command them in combat, but also to ensure that they are properly equipped, and when a merc dies, that a replacement be hired. You’ll also need to train militia forces for the towns you liberate to ensure that the enemy forces don’t retake ground you’ve already fought hard to liberate.
Combat is handled well in both outdoor, as well as more urban environments, pitting the player’s forces against the occupation forces as well as some of the not so friendly native inhabitants. That said, you’ll also find friends that fight along side you supplementing your forces.
In addition to the main quest, there are also a few side quests such as hunting for notorious criminals hiding in Arulco, as well as clearing the mines from infestation from a seemingly mutated or alien life (thankfully, this option can be turned off to keep the game a lot more realistic).
You’ll find a lot of weapons you’ll recognize through the course of the game, and it behaves as you’d expect. Hand your heavily armored guy the submachine gun for rapid followup or full auto fire, and give your marksman the sniper rifle for long range kills. Equipment such as night vision or throwable glowsticks also makes night operations viable allowing your mercs to be operational for all 24 hours of the day.
Unfortunately, these days the graphics remain a bit dated (and were even at the game’s release), and do not scale upwards appropriately for today’s capabilities. However, the flexibility, openness and depth of the gameplay more than make up for the shoddy visual presentation.
Official site, JA2 at Wikipedia
TGP initial grade: 9.8/10
Grade in the context of today’s games: 8/10
Similar to: Jagged Alliance 2
Released in: 1994
Download it free HERE.
XCOM is an isometric third-person turn-based tactical strategy / realtime builder game. The player must maintain, manage, and grow an outfit that is responsible for countering an alien threat to earth, by taking on missions and killing or chasing away the aliens.
XCOM Gameinfo site, XCOM at Wikipedia
TGP initial grade: 9.5/10
Grade in the context of today’s games: 8/10
Similar to: SWAT4, Rainbow Six: Vegas
Released in: 2000
Buy it HERE.
SWAT 3 is a first-person, close-quarters squad-based tactical simulation that puts the player in the role of an elite SWAT team member. Think of the old Rainbow Six in tight spaces, where you command your teams in realtime instead of a map screen, and where using deadly force is not always your best option. Instead of performing missions in some far-off land, you’re raiding a suburban home, or a dingy nightclub – so it feels real and relatable. In fact, if R6: Vegas is a spiritual successor to anything, it’s probably more so to SWAT 3 & 4 than it’s own lineage.
When I first played SWAT3, I was blown away by the level of immersion. There’s something about the slow pace, the “everyday places” setting, and the overall atmosphere that this game creates that gives real weight to your mortality and that of your teammates. It was the most intense tactical shooter I had ever played, and remains near the top of my all-time list. Control of your teammates was revolutionary. You could easily give them specific instructions in real time, adapting your strategy to bring order to the surrounding chaos. It works so well that it’s basically the system we see today in Rainbow Six: Vegas.
I really can’t speak highly enough about the game in the context of it’s day. I think the greatest compliment in that regard is that, seven years later, it’s not far behind today’s great tactical games and it’s still ahead of some of the good ones.
SWAT 3 at Wikipedia, 10-David website, Official site