TomChick - Features - Comments - 12/20/07
4. Armageddon Empires
During the crazy last few months of the year, with a dozen awesome AAA games queued up for me to play, I kept returning to this indy strategy game about wars in a post-Apocalyptic wastelands that I remember from Gamma World, The Road Warrior, Aftermath, and Fallout. I wanted to try a new deck, see how another map unfurled, poke around at a faction I hadn't tried yet, see how the dice – those fucking ingrateful godawful dice! – would treat me this time. Armageddon Empires was a sort of retreat for me, back to the way I used to feel about games when they were more modest in their means, yet more ambitious in their ends. Not since the first Civilization have I been so in love with turn-based gaming. It even tapped into my recently re-appreciated affection for cards, dice, tiles, and boards. This is the best non-Civ turn-based game since Imperialism II.
From my review on…oh, wait, I didn't review this. It's a shame that games like this don't get more coverage. How many of these have you and I missed because we've never heard of them…?
Before discovering girls, there are two things boys love: jungle gyms and action movies. Crackdown is a mix of the two, equal parts Parkour and action movie mayhem (i.e. car chases and shootout). This is the game this year that gave me the most sheer unadulterated joy and exhilaration, letting my inner kid gleefully groove on his own mayhem jungle gym.
From my review in Sci Fi magazine: "…the crime here isn’t any mere felony. In Crackdown, you’re breaking the law of gravity. You play a bionic supercop whose power and grace all but let him fly through the city. You’re doing some outrageous Parkour, flinging yourself from rooftops and clutching skyscrapers by your fingertips, firing big guns all the while."
2. Lord of the Rings Online
I might have gotten the most joy from Crackdown, but this is the game that most sucked me in this year. I don't pretend to understand how much of my fondness for Lord of the Rings Online has to do with timing and how much it has to do with the game itself. I do know that until now, most MMOs have bounced off me. I've dabbled, but I've easily put down every single one I took up. But then Lord of the Rings Online happened. There was at least a month in 2007 where this was the only game I played, and I played it a lot. Of course, it helped that I'd only recently read the books (for the first time!) and I was still buzzing on a Battle for Middle Earth II high. It helped that I had a regular group of friends playing. It helped that the game was built around some really good gameplay ideas, some lovely artwork, and a real appreciation for the license.
From my review for Variety: You don’t have to love the lore, or even know it, to appreciate Lord of the Rings Online. Even if you don’t know Mirkwood from Fangorn, you can’t help but admire the glum light of the Old Forest. The Shire is as idyllic and intricately constructed as any place that ever graced a videogame. The Great Barrows, a vast dungeon, is lovingly hand-crafted and adorned with its own landmark. It’s a world within a world that demonstrates Turbine’s ability to take even the most boring fantasy tropes and invest them with new creative energy.