We live in an age of gaming past generations would never have predicted: virtual reality gaming, graphics that are barely distinguishable from film, and gameplay of the highest order. There are complexities in games released over the last few years that are mind-boggling to even the most adept gamer, but with all the options on offer for a young gamer of today, it’s easy to let some of the classics of yesteryear slip through our fingers.
Here is a list of our five top classics that were once leading the charge at the frontline of gaming and must be revisited for the post-millennium gamer to truly appreciate the games of today.
Age of Empires
Few games gripped gamers of the past like the historical real-time strategy (RTS) game Age of Empires. First developed by Ensemble Studios in 1997, during a time in which the RTS genre was seriously lacking historical games among its plethora of science fiction and fantasy titles, The Age of Empires franchise explored various historical events from all over the globe. It went on to release a total of seven titles and three spin-offs, including Age of Mythology, which always deserves a special mention for its terrific use of Greek, Egyptian and Norse mythology.
The Age of Empires HD Definitive Version, released in 2013, combines the gameplay of one of video games’ all-time greats with the graphics of today. An Age of Empires trailer dropped last year and sent fans into a frenzy, but a release date is yet to be confirmed. Play this old classic and see what all the fuss is about while we wait for the next chapter — it’s a game not to be missed if you consider yourself a tried-and-tested gamer.
To the seasoned veteran gamer, Gordon Freeman was once not only a household name, but also a legend and an alter-ego. The classic first-person shooter Half-Life sees this fabled theoretical physicist try to survive in the Black Mesa Research Facility, which has been invaded by aliens. When first developed and published by Valve in 1998, Half-Life was a leading first-person shooter in the gaming universe and fantastically innovative in its gameplay and characterisation.
Although a third episode of Half-Life was due for release in 2007, to the misery of Half-Life fanatics, it never materialised. The game series Portal was instead released that same year and was set in the same universe as Half-Life, but still… no Gordon Freeman, and no Half-Life release. Earlier this year, Half-Life 3 release rumours started spreading like wildfire, but the wait for anything concrete continues. Such is the demand for a new title that some gamers actually picketed outside the Valve offices. Who knows? Maybe we will one day get our wish.
Diablo is an action role-playing game developed by Blizzard Entertainment in 1996. It is set in the fantasy world of “Sanctuary”, in which humans fight off a race of demons called “Prime Evils” led by the chief antagonist Diablo (Spanish for Devil). Books, comics and films have since been released revisiting the world of Sanctuary, which is testament to the game’s popularity. Its popularity was such, in fact, that when the third edition of the Diablo video game came out in 2012, it sold 3.5 million copies in its first day, a figure that almost doubled over the following two weeks. It might not be so heavily played today, but it’s a classic that should be high on a gamer’s bucket list.
Rome: Total War
The Total War series has come a long way since the release of Shogun: Total War in June of 2000. The games publisher Sega has since been credited as one of the world’s best PC strategy gaming companies, and it’s not without reason. As of 2016, the series had sold over 20 million copies worldwide, and that’s not taking into account Total War: Warhammer II, released in 2017, or Total War: Thrones of Britannica, which was released just a few months ago in May 2018.
Of these games, however, none will have the same effect on gamers as the first trio that emerged in the early 2000s. Shogun: Total War was the debut of these turn-based strategy and real-time tactics video games set in feudal Japan. In 2002, Medieval: Total War took the game to a different time and place, with battles taking place in Europe between the period of 1087 to 1453. The pick of the bunch, however, was Rome: Total War, which included one of the most fundamental additions to the series in the form of free map movement. It is set during the late stages of the Roman Republic and the early stages of the Roman Empire, and it rightfully earned its fifth-place position in Metacritic’s list of all-time best strategy games.
First released in 1999, there are few games as nostalgia-inducing as the first RollerCoaster Tycoon. The game let children, teenagers and adults alike build and manage a theme park with limitless rides and ideas. Whether you were a meticulous planner eager for success or a cruel and creative overlord sending your customers into a convoluted maze, the title was genius and gripped gamers of all kinds. A version of Rollercoaster Tycoon is actually, as of 2018, available on mobile phones, but nothing will beat the hours of planning and revision you’d put into your theme park in front of your PC.