The strategy genre, including its sub-genres – real-time, turn based, management, simulation, tycoon, God game – holds a special place in my heart. It was these games that pulled me away from early consoles and onto my P166 in search of a more cerebral experience.
At one point, the real time strategy (RTS) genre was the industry’s biggest. If anything, it has its own prolific success to blame for its relative downfall, as gamers began losing interest due to there being so many games adhering to the same basic gameplay mechanics, following each other in neat succession.
In the interest of nostalgia, and as homage to one of gaming’s golden cornerstones, we decided to look at the ten best reviewed real-time strategy games released to date. We initially looked at Metacritic for our top ten, but found that the likes of StarCraft, Warcraft III and Dungeon Keeper did not make the cut. So we went to Gamerankings who has a more acceptable top ten.
1. Company of Heroes (2006) 93.82%
Relic’s WWII classic was an excellent game, but feels a little out of place in the top spot.
2. Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos (2002) 93.08%
The impact that this game has had on the industry is astounding. Not only was it a great game, but its custom mod, D.O.T.A, spawned an entire sub-genre.
3. Starcraft (1998) 92.85%
Without a doubt, StarCraft is today the most played competitive RTS in the world, and that’s 12 years after its release. Many would argue it belongs at the top, but we like to think StarCraft II will land that spot when it is released later this month.
4. Dungeon Keeper (1997) 92.90%
Dungeon Keeper was one of the more innovative RTS’s of the 90’s, with its dark humour, unique base building structure, and disgustingly addictive gameplay, it is a firm favourite here at the MyGaming offices.
5. Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings (1999) 91.81%
Who can forget Age of Empires? We would have preferred to see the first game in this list, but the sequel was also brilliant.
6. Rome: Total War (2004) 91.61%
This is a bit of an iffy placement, as most of the gameplay is actually turn based, while the combat sequences are presented in epic real-time 3D action. Now with all its bugs ironed out, Empire: Total War is probably a better iteration of the Total War franchise. Until Shogun 2 – the direct sequel to the first Total War game – is released next year.
7. Command & Conquer: Red Alert (1996) 90.91%
The spin off to one of the true genre’s progenitors, Red Alert remains a cult classic.
8. Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne (2003) 90.75%
9. Command & Conquer (1996) 89.90%
C&C was the first true blockbuster RTS, and deserves its spot in this list if simply for inventing the “tank rush.”
10. Black & White (2001) 89.79%
This game can barely be called an RTS, and it probably belongs in the “God game” sub-genre. However, Gamerankings has it pegged as an RTS, and who are we to argue. Black & White reminds us of a time when Peter Molyneux was still cool.
MyGaming’s top ten
2. Total Annihilation
3. Dungeon Keeper
5. Command & Conquer: Red Alert
6. Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos
7. Close Combat: A Bridge too Far
8. Age of Empires
9. Company of Heroes
10. Wahammer 40K: Dawn of War II
Discuss the best of RTS in the forums