Civilization II celebrates its 20th anniversary! Yes, after Pokémon’s 20th birthday, it’s time to celebrate the birthday of another cult game. If you’ve never played a Civilization game, you’re missing something. The original 1991 is a little dated today, but it’s still a top-level tactical nugget, and it’s inspired a lot of classics of the genre. Its sequel, Civ II, is even better. But is it still one of the best strategy games of all time? That’s what we’re going to see together.
- Command & Conquer (PC, 1995)
Command & Conquer may not be the first real-time strategy game (even Westwood Studios, its developer, did the STR Dune II a few years ago), but it was the first to conquer the world. By continuing to run the game while you make decisions, Command & Conquer removed the luxury of having time to think.
For this reason, Command & Conquer relies not only on tactical excellence; but it also requires excellent time management and the ability to make important decisions unexpectedly. As a result, the game gave a much more action-oriented gameplay than what the genre was used to.
- Civilization II (PC, 1996)
The First Civilization was hailed by critics, but it was the second opus that really conquered the world. Moving from a top-down view to an isometric 3D camera angle, Civilization II has made a lot of improvements to create a cult game that some people still play today.
To win, you have two options. You can destroy other civilizations until yours is the only one left, or win the space race and become the first civilization to reach Alpha Centauri. Civilization II and all its extensions are still references to today’s strategy game.
- Advance Wars (GBA, 2001)
Nintendo may not be the first name that comes to mind when you think about serious strategy games, but the Japanese giant studio Intelligent Systems has signed two of the biggest strategy series in history (the second comes right after). The Advance Wars series is best known in Japan as the Famicom Wars, where it has existed since 1988. It took more than a decade for the First Advance Wars game to be released in Europe and North America. But with its winning combination of Cubic and colorful graphics and surprisingly deep tactical gameplay, the wait was worth it.
- Fire Emblem (GBA, 2003)
As Advance Wars, Fire Emblem was already an old and beloved series in Japan (since 1990, in fact) long before it arrived in Europe and North America. When the series became global in 2003, it quickly gained cult status around the world, for its fantastic script, its superb music, and its notoriously tearing permanent death feature, with which the characters killed in combat remain so for the rest of the game.
- Rome: Total War (PC, 2004)
The Creative Assembly, a Sussex-based studio, has released nine games so far in its fantastic Total War series. But the most memorable is the third installment, Rome: Total War. It allows you to choose between three different Roman families: The Iuli, the Brutii, and the Scipii. And he entrusts you with the mission of becoming emperor by capturing 50 different provinces and eventually conquering Rome itself. What makes Total War games so successful is the way they combine roughly two games into one, mixing the construction of a city and the rise of an empire with brilliant tactical battles. All Total War games are great, but if you have to start somewhere, it’s with this one.