Real-time strategy (RTS) titles have been a cornerstone of electronic gaming since the earliest days of computing. With hundreds of miniaturized troops and vehicles fighting atop lavishly rendered landscapes that change every second, these virtual conflicts provided a brisker, more accessible alternative to tabletop favorites like Stratego, Axis & Allies or Risk. Thanks to the success of franchises like WarCraft and Command & Conquer, the genre has swept across PCs.
Ask today’s most accomplished game developers, and they’ll tell you that making a hit title is like trying to capture lightning in a bottle. But repeating that success? You know what they say about atmospheric discharges of electricity striking twice. Still, at least some software creators have figured out the secret to making everything old feel new again. We tested a number of recent retro-fabulous outings to see who’s really got game, what lessons may be learned from these attempts, and if you really can go back. You may be shocked to learn the results.
In an era of high-definition, online interconnected systems like the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, will PC gaming go the way of coin-operated arcades? According to market research firm The NPD Group, sales of PC games precipitously declined to $701 million in 2008, a 14 percent year-on-year drop. But is the sky really falling for desktop users? A deeper look suggests not, pointing to a hobby that’s instead evolving so rapidly it would make Darwin blush.
Like skinny jeans and Wall Street panics, everything old is new again, especially if you're a gamer. Thank golden-age throwbacks (i.e. Street Fighter IV) and budget-priced anthologies (see: Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection), which continue to score well with misty-eyed Gen X-ers. In an unexpected comedic twist though, two refreshingly cheeky titles are suddenly making sport of treasured childhood memories. Nor can these interactive outings resist asking just how blinded joystick lovers really are by nostalgia's lenses.
Developing PC and video games is a crapshoot at best. My own self-published Heavyweight Thunder took a year to build, cost a small fortune, and ultimately tanked with critics. But if Microsoft has its way, literally anyone, regardless of technical know-how, will soon have the opportunity to create jaw-dropping digital diversions.
Ah, irony. When we predicted that 2009 would be a year of innovation for the video game business, who knew it would start by pushing the boundaries of silliness? As a visit to the Gaming Showcase pavilion at last week's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) proved though, chuckles were in no short supply.
Welcome to 2009. We have seen the future of gaming, and it looks a lot like its for your mother, grandfather and ADD-afflicted pals. Cheerfully, there's still hope for hardcore PC and console enthusiasts. It just doesn’t come in a shiny, shrink-wrapped retail box.
Tick, tick, tick... No matter how often you glance up from that quarterly sales forecast, it still seems like an eternity until 5 o'clock. But with today's increasingly sophisticated free online games, it's easy to kill time and torpedo productivity faster than you can say "TPS report." Recent highlights include the addition of 3D graphics, head-to-head cooperative or competitive multiplayer options and even digitized speech--boosting titles' addictiveness and geek cred alike. Just fire up your favorite Web browser and surf to the following five sites for instant mouse-waggling thrills.
Meet today's hottest new star. He's short and balding, but has an infectious wit and smile that can light up any red carpet. Come to think of it, he looks a lot like me. My rapid rise to celebrity came courtesy of You're in the Movies (Xbox 360), which inserts video from a USB camera into faux film trailers.