Real Time Strategy (RTS) games have been around for decades in one pixelated form or another. The evolution of the RTS has been ongoing since the late 80’s and has developed at a rapid rate thanks to the advancements of PC gaming hardware. For those of you not in the know, the basic principles of the game are resource gathering which then leads to the constructing of buildings for units. When additional players are introduced, this can create unpredictable paths for the player to follow. In its simplistic terms this usually a player will build unit A which will be countered by unit B, so that means they also have to build unit C.
Asking someone to pick the most influential RTS games is much like asking a movie lover which is the most influential movies of all time, everyone will have a different answer. Below are what I consider to be the most influential.
Arguable the most successful RTS games of all time, Starcraft 2 is a squeal that has been eagerly awaited for 11 years since the release of the first game. The Starcaft series has consistently been present at many of the largest gaming tournaments in the world ,with some players earning over £300,000 over the games lifetime. The game itself has a immersive storyline that takes place in a troubled universe of 3 empires, but what truly makes this game stand out is the multiplayer. Balanced units allow for complex play with each played opting for a varsity of strategies that allows the game to evolve over time. Battles are fought over war torn moons and isolated jungles that enable different styles of gameplay while providing a cinematic backdrop of beautiful textures and a “deep sky” that recreates the expanse of space. Starcraft 2 has one of the most active communities to exist for a game, which has provided Starcraft 2 with a fan base that will last beyond any normal game released for consoles as well as a modding community that will ensure that this game will be around for the arrival of the third instalment. We can only hope it will not be another 11 years away.
While very dated by today’s standard of game graphics, Homeworld 2 is one of the most influential and game changing games to exist. It is bound by the usual rules of RTS that allow the player to gradually grow their army until the ultimate final battle. What makes this game stand out is the huge size of the maps, the 3D environment that allows you to view from any angle and, most importantly, the ability to move the spaceships around in a full 3D environment. This allows you to attack a ship from any angle, and can give you a massive headache when you lose your orientation. This is one of the few space games that actually feels like it is in space. If you ever want a comparison, I highly recommend played through any of the star trek games that allow you to fly a ship.
Below is a video of the HD remake that is currently under way. You can hear from the crowds reaction that this is going to be a very sought after game and is one I am defiantly adding to my list of must buys.
Age Of Empires 2
The first AoE game was also one of the first RTS games I have ever played. The AoE series allow players to take control of a historic civilisation and grow them into vast empires using typical resource gathering and building techniques that are frequently adopted into RTS games. AoE 2 is set during the Dark Ages to the Renaissance and allows the player to take control of one of 13 available civilisations for set scenarios or online adventures. Complex tech trees were used to give each civilisation a unique feel and playing style while keeping the game balanced for the multiplayer mode.
Company Of Heroes
Working within the WW2 time period, Company of Heroes features the armies of the Allies and Axis in a game that recreates the environments of 1940’s Europe. Unlike most RTS games, resources do not exist, and are replaced by capture points that allow the player to buy more troops and construct buildings. This small change allows the player to remain in a commander role and not about how to feed his people. The single played is one of the most interesting I have found and through creative storylines, actually creates a bond between characters and the player. The multiplayer mode, while slightly different from the single player mode, creates games of 2v2 to 4v4. The winning team will almost always rely on a teamwork ethic with one player almost always taking charge to guide attacks on the enemy.
While the games mentioned above are but a few, I feel that these games have helped shape the way in which that RTS games will be made in the future. There will most defiantly be aspects of futuristic battles to help developers break away from traditional and over played elements of games. Age Of Empires franchise has reportedly been having trouble since the release of AoE 3, which many argue that will be the end of the series, even though there has been ideas from the Microsoft camp that would suggest a World War 1-2 based game.
Whatever happens to the future of the games, I am certain that with the rise in powerful gaming computers, we will see more extraordinary games on the horizon.