Creating a realistic simulation of any type is difficult enough but simulating a city may well be among the most difficult of all. The SimCity games have made tremendous progress over the years and SimCity 4 is perhaps the most advanced city simulation ever created. Yet with real life cities changing far slower than the world of PC gaming, it becomes a real challenge to innovate the simulation of one. To tackle this conundrum, Maxis aims to go beyond the city limits and not only simulate a single city but a virtual world filled with them and everything that implies.
Taking SimCity to the next level means taking it online and bringing in new mechanics somewhat akin to those found in modern MMOs. Your city does not stand alone but becomes part of a global economy that thrives or plunges, affecting the fates of players everywhere. Specializing your city in the production of oil or coal, you benefit from a rise in energy prices at the risk of not being the only one to do so. And the multiplayer aspect goes much deeper than that, allowing for multiple mayors to work together on regional projects such as an international airport or space station. In truth, the scale of SimCity is rather mindboggling as it seeks to raise the bar for city builders to new heights.
Visit our Gamehub
Apart from its name, Shadowrun Returns has very little relation to the first-person shooter released in 2007. And that is a good thing too. The tabletop origins of the cyberpunk role-playing game are a bad fit for an action game of any kind. Whoever came up with that idea… This time around Jordan Weisman, creator of the Shadowrun universe, is taking matters into his own hand and has set out to build a turn-based role-playing game. Even just thinking about it makes it a better proposition, but there is more to it than just a change of genre and designer.
The Shadowrun universe is a unique blend of high-fantasy (think Tolkien) and cyberpunk sci-fi (think Blade Runner) and for that reason alone it deserves a place in the world. It is a blend that allows for the creation of a wide variety in character classes and their abilities, especially when adding in Shadowrun’s ‘realities’, of which there are four. Players deal with the forces of magic, technology and life as well as the physical world. With so much to draw from, the real challenge for Jordan and his team is not to add enough depth, but to ensure that new players are not overwhelmed by everything there is to see and to do. One to watch.
Total War: Rome II
Ask a fan which Total War game was the best ever made, the chances are that they will tell you that it was Rome: Total War. It is not that its siblings weren’t up to scratch, it’s just that Rome eclipsed them all and continues to be the fan favorite today. For that very reason, the expectations for Rome II run high, very high.
The Creative Assembly knows they have their own big shoes to fill and are looking to improve on almost every aspect of the original game. A new graphics engine promises to deliver more graphical splendor than ever before, enabling players to take one look at the faces of the men they command in battle and see the fear or elation on their faces. The campaign is no longer set in stone and allows the player choices that will influence how the story plays out. But perhaps the most intriguing change is that navies have a role to play during land battles as well. Ships can provide ranged support, engage other ships and land reinforcements behind enemy lines. After multiple lackluster attempts to bring naval warfare into the franchise, it looks like we will finally have a real reason to build a navy outside of protecting our shipping lanes.
Visit our Gamehub
Command & Conquer
I don’t care what the review scores say, the Command & Conquer series has been in decline ever since the release of Red Alert 2. From that moment on, Electronic Arts has been watering down the original mechanics, have failed to create compelling campaigns and have outright betrayed their fans with travesties such as Tiberian Twilight and Red Alert 3.
Command & Conquer is in many ways a reboot of the series. Fans get to build bases again – an unforgivable omission from Tiberian Twilight – and we no longer have to suffer a limit to how many armies we are allowed to have. Jay!
Unfortunately, EA’s tinkering days are not over. Command & Conquer will be a free-top-play game and whether or not it will actually have a campaign is still up in the air. At this point, you may be wondering why Command & Conquer is on this list of ‘games that will define 2013’ in the first place. The reason is that 2013 may well prove to be the franchise’s ‘do or die’ moment. Fans are ‘done’ with EA’s disrespectful treatment of their beloved franchise, and if this new game does not do everything right, they will likely turn their backs on it for good. If it succeeds, however, there is a good chance that many RTS titles of old will make a return in free-to-play form. Intrigued? I know I am.
Read part 1, 3, 4 and 5 of the series.