Tom's Pick: Warlords: Battlecry
Am I glad I didn't miss this one! I came very close to just writing it off. SSG taking their turn-based and venerable Warlords fantasy milieu into real time? Didn't they know Blizzard had already made Warcraft? Didn't they know about all the RTS clones? Didn't they know that way lies disaster? What were they thinking, the fools? The joke's on me. 2000 was a phenomenal year for real time strategy and Warlords Battlecry sits with the best of them. With its varied races, it has all the replayability of Starcraft's unique sides. With the hero-building aspects, it has all the addictive RPG elements of Diablo. Fans of the Warlords series will notice several nods to the mechanics of the turned based game. And it's all tied together in an RTS as smoothly honed and smart as Age of Empires II. Is it the best RTS of 2000? Probably.

Mark's Pick: Shadow Watch
William Carlos Williams once wrote that every line in a poem was like a part in a machine, and each line brushed up against all the others the way a gear might turn another gear which in turn would turn yet another, and then another, and I'm getting dizzy as I write this, but you get the picture. Shadow Watch is a game Williams would love, and playing it is more fun than reading poetry. Every part is tightly integrated. Every character’s skills are balanced and fitted against the other characters. It’s a game of tactics that employs a refreshingly different comic book look and feel, a game of small squad combat with randomized campaigns that really work. Shadow Watch was so little hyped that I didn’t hear about it until a month or two before it came out. Sadly, it didn’t sell. It really is a worthwhile game, but you have to play it for a few hours to give it a chance. It’s easy to be put off by the game’s chess-like moves and countermoves. It feels a bit like a puzzle game, but really isn’t.

Most Disappointing Game of 2000, Second Runner Up