The Turn of the MOO
Don't forget Galactic Civilizations. It isn't nearly as refined as the big-budget Age of Mythology or Civilization III, but it's a yeoman-like work of solid game design. Perhaps more importantly, it is a miracle of timing. It arrived at exactly the moment that thousands of strategy gamers were scowling and making that weird face a dog makes when you put peanut butter on his tongue. This was the widespread reaction from those of us who had just played Master of Orion 3. We were furrowing our brows and wrinkling our noses and making sounds like 'eww', 'ack', 'ugh', and ‘oof’. We were ready to forsake the genre forever, preparing to spend the rest of our days with fantasy RPGs and World War II shooters. Then GalCiv, as we affectionately call it, arrived to cleanse our palettes and make strategy gaming safe for science fiction once more.
Don't forget that Age of Mythology is probably the best RTS this year. What's that? Oh. My staff has just informed me that Age of Mythology came out last year, so let's move on and be thankful we have Game Memorial Day to remind ourselves of things like this.
Use this day to remember Rise of Nations. I know you love the new Night Elven Warden in Frozen Throne -- I do too -- but wasn't it cool the first time you nuked a wonder of the world? How could you forget that? Believe it or not, that was 2003. Wasn't it? Was that last year, also? Hold on a second.
Okay, my staff has just informed me that Rise of Nations was indeed released in 2003, so I stand by what I just wrote up there.
Don't forget the recent expansion pack to Age of Wonders 2, Shadow Magic. Non-Blizzard expansion packs are easy to forget, because you'll mentally file them away with the original release. In many cases, expansion packs deserve to be forgotten. Take the pair of half-baked scenario packs for Disciples II, in the tradition of the Heroes of Might & Magic: Nickel and Dime Them To Death expansions. Take the disastrous Play the World scam for Civilization III. But Shadow Magic is different. It revitalizes Triumph Studios' Age of Wonders series and takes the wistful sting out of our nostalgia for Master of Magic. This is Master of Magic now, in everything but the name. Don't forget it just because it's part of the dishonored genre of expansion packs for turn-based games.
Don't forget Vice City, although unless you're one of those 'I hate consoles' nuts, you probably played it last year on your Playstation 2 like the rest of us. Folks who swear by the PC version are like people who swear by vinyl recordings sounding warmer. Mouse aiming, my ass. In a post-Halo world, most of us are good enough to venture out on foot with a console controller. And don't even try to tell me about playing your own MP3s in the PC version. If you're not digging on the great licensed music in Vice City, you're missing the point. Vice City is all about indulging your road rage while listening to Foreigner's "Waiting For a Girl Like You" and thinking back to what a disaster your prom night was. If Bonnie Simmons is reading this, I'm just joking. I had a grand time. (Captain Chick, lawsuit de-cloakink off the starboard bow! Ink-comink! –Chekov -ed.)