Sometimes it can be good to take time out from being a lowly foot soldier and you know, pull the strings of grand virtual warfare like the sadistic puppet masters we really are. MWAHAHAHAH....ahem....or just pit one's tactical nous against that of others. It's been a relatively good year for strategy fans with releases from Creative Assembly, Blizzard, Firaxis and Square keeping tacticians on their toes. Lots of old favourites returned, and there were one or two newbies on the block to really shout about as you'll see below...
NB. Hit the thumbnail for price comps and the title for our full reviews where applicable.
Sid Meier and co. returned with another slice of Civ action this year, having streamlined an simplified things to make the game more user friendly, without dumbing it down. The result? Strategic awesomeness that everyone could enjoy!
Napoleon: Total War
Creative Assembly kicked off the year with another historical tour de force, bringing their Total War series to bear against the Napoleonic Wars. Boasting improved physics, better naval battles and the chance to get one's Hornblower on, NTW was yet another cracking addition to the Total War roster.
Allowing you to wave your arms and literally conduct a theatre of war, R.U.S.E. proved to be a very capable RTS, well worthy of standing alongside the old stalwarts that made their return this year. Superlative on the touch screen PCs for which it was made, but if you bought it on the X360 you were an idiot.
Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty
Well this one needs no real introduction. Finally, the follow-up to Blizzard's RTS-extravaganza arrived in 2010. With its improved narrative structure, honed RTS gameplay and fantastic matchmaking mechanics, it was certainly worth the wait, even if LAN had been removed.
SC2 is an example of a game that, much like a fine wine, got better with age. Though perhaps a little too simple - though very well worked for console release - tweaks and updates honed the experience into a truly fantastic game. Plus who didn't get a kick out of seeing an enormous robot dinosaur stomping its way across the battlefield and handling sh*t.
A bunch of us here at the Dealspwn office simply fell in love with Toy Soldiers this year, a little action-strategy game that really stood up to the big boys and showed you didn't need all of themoney in the world to create an engrossing, tactical experience. Breathing fresh life into the defence genre with its interactive diorama and hands-on aspects, Toy Soldiers was the little game that could. And it really did.
Winner: Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty
Starcraft II turned out to be one of those games that just didn't really drop the ball anywhere. Its campaign was thrilling, brilliant fun, with vastly improved stoytelling that really added to the whole experience. The RTS gameplay itself was just as strong as before, if not more so, with some serious scope for modification and customisation. The multiplayer modes were numerous and well thought out, the matchmaking superb. The lack of LAN was a sticking point for some, and the slow death of local multiplayer is to be lamented in all quarters, but for what was there it's difficult to look beyond Starcraft II.