2006 Game Awards
And the runner-up is…
Losing by a hairs breadth to be sure, Star Wars: Empire at War was successful in feeding the raging Star Wars fan base with something a little more substantial than what Force Commander had to offer. Newly formed Petroglyph Studios’ first crack at a AAA title was certainly done successfully and gained the attention of many RTS fans out there. While the ground combat wasn’t exactly something that kept players to the edge of their seats, the space combat was truly a sight to behold. Watching your favorite space fighters and hero units dogfight like an unholy swarm of hornets was one of the most entertaining aspects of the game, as was watching massive Imperial Star Destroyers slowly fall to pieces as they were laid to waste by surge after surge of blaster cannon fire.
All this combat was on the micro scale, of course, as the battles took place on a quasi-Risk playing field where every move meant life or death, from Endor to Tattooine. Top that with a solid multiplayer feature and a good amount of replayability, and you have yourself a high quality RTS for all – Star Wars fans or not – to enjoy.
And the winner is…
There’s an important lesson to learn in Company of Heroes. That is, when the manure hits the fan, infantry are going to find the nearest hole to crawl in to escape the spray. And spray there was. No longer were shots guaranteed to hit as they ricocheted off walls, artillery pieces and the ground. It led to a more strategic game than previously seen in the real-time genre. Battles were no longer limited to a, "My man is more powerful than your man," set of rules. Alternative questions of the use of cover, firing arcs and upgrades made micromanagement a key aspect of using your forces.
Featuring different multiplayer game modes, Heroes gave players something different than killing everything in sight. The new mode relied on holding strategic points and utilizing multiple static defenses. One of the more interesting twists was the necessity of Axis versus Allied battles. This gave gamers used to the single-player a slightly different tech tree to explore. Those little changes however led to many more hours of multiplayer than would have normally been played.
[next, Best First Person Shooter]