I actually had more trouble choosing my favourite title from this category than the others - so much so that I decided to cheat!
This is mainly because of Tower Defense (or Defence in England) Games which I'll cover tomorrow. I thought it unfair to group them altogether even though they are all arguably strategic. It also separates the commercialists from the independents, which wasn't really my intention but perhaps it's for the best?
So with all this in mind lets get to the first nomination (I love unnecessary use of italics...)
Majesty 2 review
I completely missed out on the first Majesty game, so when this one appeared I was determined not to be left out!
So it's a different concept to most rts type games and the idea is that you are dealing with everything in a medieval kingdom by controlling the most important thing in the world!
In usual RTS tradition however you can increase the strength of the Heroes that wander your kingdom by providing them with weapons armour and potions to buy from the local marketplace. It was a really great concept and in some ways I preferred this to the usual strategy formula because I didn't have to think too tactically!
Anno 1404 review
Anno 1404 has been the most successful review I've written on the site in terms of the number of people who have come to visit! Hey guys!
It's a kind of cross between SimCity and Warcraft, if such can be imagined. The importance of clever city building is much higher than usual in a strategy game and it's in far more detail too. Materials, tool and weapon supplies require quite a bit of management, which is all made easier through trading routes. But it's not something for casual gamers.
The combat was a bit...lacking perhaps but since the focus was mainly on the expansion and city management perhaps the "I have more ships than you so I win" method is fair enough.
AI War: Fleet Command review
Ever since I watched Return Of The Jedi I've wanted to recreate huge ship battles in space. Only two games this year have achieved this. Gratuitous Space Battles and AI War. I chose AI war from the two because it's far more of a strategy game than a simulation in that you have constant control over your units as well as ship building and harvesting responsibilities.
The big thing about AI War however is that you can have literally thousands of units fighting at once which leads to some very epic conflicts. Because of the scale of the areas required for this it takes a bit of getting used to. In early versions of the game it was daunting when starting, but recently this has been addressed and you're given a leg-up in terms of ships and mining capabilities.
And the winner is:
Overall and having played them again I have to go with Anno 1404 as the best in this category. It almost lost out due to it's annoying save/load times but the look and feel of the thing is just a wonder to behold. Some of the best water ever to be seen in a game so far!
AI War was a close second, it's scope is tremendous and it's become quite the indie hit, having now appeared on both steam and impulse. It's also the best pure RTS game I've played this year without a doubt.
Majesty 2 I have to say was a fantastic game, but got a little repetitive after the 4th or 5th level. The voice acting was especially entertaining however!