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Valentine's Day Gaming Special

Feature Article by ESCMAG Staff
February 14, 2000


The powers-that-be at ESCMag had decided to give our hard-working staffers a break from non-stop gaming by asking our reviewers to post lovesick poetry instead of hard-core reviews and biting columns. Of course, there was a rebellion. So, under threat of a coup and non-Valentine-like torture, these powers-that-be graciously decided to let three ESCapers tell of their love of their five best games instead.

Of course, you can send a Valentine's day card...er, email..to our lovesick reviewers to express your thanks for not being forced to digest extremely mushy poetry.

Andy Grieser:

  1. Civilization II
  2. This one has never, ever left my hard drive. When changing computers, it’s one of the first things I install. That’s because I can run it anytime, CD or not, and next thing I know the English are valiantly pushing across Europe in a bid for world supremacy.

  3. Half-Life
  4. Half-LifeStory is everything to me, but until this game came along first-person shooters were really just a good way to blow off steam while mindlessly plowing through demons or Nazis or whatever. Valve and Sierra showed us just how powerful scripted events can be in a shooter. Gordon Freeman became less a series of weapons (as in those previous games) and more an actual character.

  5. X-COM: UFO Defense
  6. This one had it all: strategy, action, resource management. Even the sequels — excellent in their own rights — couldn’t live up to the kind of magic surrounding UFO Defense. Hell, the aliens (well, the computer AI) had to play by a similar points system to that of the player. That turning point of realizing the balance has shifted in favor of Earth keeps me going back to this game time and again.

  7. The Sims
  8. The SimsThis one’s a new love, the kind that keeps me away from friends and family. The kind you don’t stop thinking about all day at work. I spent one weekend making my Sim’s social life far better than mine was for those two days. If that’s not love, nothing is.

  9. The Zork series

    This is one of those old-fashioned loves. I don’t back to the Great Underground Empire very often, but without Zork and the rest of Infocom’s imaginative text adventures, computer gaming would have been much different. Even so, terms like "wit" or "storyline" were absent for a period after text adventures became obsolete; luckily, they’ve returned in full force.

Garret Romaine:

There have been a lot of games over the years, but few really stick out. Some were fickle, some mocked me, and some were simple one-night stands. But a few have stayed with me till today, and that counts for something.

  1. Dune II: The Building of a Dynasty
  2. Dune IIHere's a game that took me by complete surprise. I had enjoyed the Dune books by Frank Herbert, and I may be one of the few Duneophiles that also liked the movie. I didn't play Dune I at all, but the minute I started playing Dune II, it was love.

    I've played the game until my index finger locked up; I've played until the sun came up. I think it contributed to my cousin almost flunking out of college. My passion ran so deep I helped with the FAQ in the newsgroup and I once kept a game running for days so I could jack up my score. I even wrote an e-mail to Brett Sperry asking about the scoring algorithm to see if I could do better.

    Dune 2000 was OK — it updated quite a few features, and I play it now instead of Dune II. But the spark just isn't there for me.

  3. WinRisk
  4. It's a simple shareware program, but it faithfully copies the original board game and it keeps me occupied for a bit. Probably what I like most is that I can employ the Australia Strategy without getting hooted out of the room. The AI is better than you might think; there have been times when, without the right roll of the dice, my empire hung by a shred, and the computer beats me every once in awhile just to keep me humble.

  5. MS Hearts
  6. The allure of a perfect game is hard to avoid. If you can shoot the moon four times, you can win without getting a single point assessed against you. That also means shooting the moon with the keeper hand, which is never easy. But I've done it.

    I like MS Hearts because a game goes fast. It isn't something I can sit down and play for hours; rather, I play a game, do some writing, then come back to it.

    There are a few things I look for to keep me interested. First, I keep looking for a hand where everyone plays the same number card. It happens about once in a thousand games, usually on the next to the last hand. I lead the nine of diamonds, someone else plays the nine of clubs, etc. I've seen it once with Jacks, as well. The other thing I hope to see is getting dealt all of one suit. That hasn't happened yet.

  7. Jazz Jackrabbit II
  8. Jazz Jackrabbit 2This is a nostalgia trip for me, and I haven't played it lately. But I've enjoyed this game from Epic ever since my son and I were beta testers. Side-scrolling shooters will never go away completely.

  9. Star Trek: Birth of the Federation

    My latest steady. It's intricate, faithful to the Star Trek universe, and it's fun. It kept me up until the wee hours, and it briefly took over my life. And if that ain't love, what is?

Erich Becker:

  1. Wolfenstein 3D

    Wolf 3DWith the recent announcement by Activision to publish Return to Castle Wolfenstein, I was brought back to the pleasant memories that the first game to bear that name introduced. Wolf3D was a marvel of a game, and so what if it wasn’t in true 3D. The game defined what a first-person shooter was, and in my opinion revolutionized PC gaming. We had yet to get a taste of something called "multiplayer," but the single-player element of this game kept us coming back. As I look back, this is the first true PC game I had ever played and I loved it. This game truly rocked, and started the genre that we are still enjoying today. Maybe the latest shooters are not as revolutionary as Wolf3D was, but they are still fun.

  2. Starcraft/Brood War

    Blizzard Entertainment’s reign as the king of strategy games was extended with the release of the mega-hit Starcraft and the ever-successful expansion set, Brood War. Never has a strategy game held so much in the story and plot department and still keep players interested for a year after the game’s initial release. With Battle.net support out of the box, easily customizable maps and a load of other programs to customize the game, the fun never stopped with this game. Now as new campaigns emerge that almost rival that of Blizzard’s campaigns more life is being introduced into a game that was excellent to begin with. Starcraft/Brood War will forever be played as long as the Internet exists.

  3. SimCity 3000

    SimCity 3000Sure, not much has changed in the past century in the good old realm of SimCity, but is that a bad thing? SimCity 2000 was a great game, and don’t take the word "great" too lightly. SimCity 3000 builds upon the fine foundation established by its predecessors and creates a game that is both fun for hours on end, but can teach you something about running a city, in a way. The master of design, Will Wright, did it once again with this masterpiece, and we expect him to do it many more times over. SC3K rocked, The Sims is rocking right now. Who knows what Mr. Wright has in store for us next?

  4. Doom II

    Once again id makes it to my list. The highly anticipated follow up to Doom was received as more of the same, but like in SimCity’s case, no one seemed to mind the least bit. A winning formula is something you want to stick with and why fix it, if it ain’t broken? Doom II introduced a new generation of kids to PC gaming as Wolfenstein did before. The game is truly a masterpiece of gaming, but because of the ignorance in parents, and political officials alike, the game has been faced with outright scrutiny because of the graphic satanic symbols and graphic violence the game presents. Now Doom has made it to every current console (excluding Dreamcast), and with many revisions we are still waiting for Doom 2000, and the movie for that matter.

  5. Duke Nukem 3D

    Duke Nukem 3DDubbed a "Quake Killer," 3D Realms’ Duke Nukem 3D was a rebirth to a fading genre. Years after the release of Doom, the FPS genre had become stale from too many "me-too" games, and the last lines were being drawn. A company by the name of 3D Realms brought back one of the most popular 2D heroes and gave him the full 3D treatment. Duke could move on all 3 axes, and he never looked better. After wisecracking his way through a "future" Los Angeles and through many alien-infested space stations, Duke finally met up with the boss Alien, killed him, and then proceeded to defecate in his open neck. Classic!

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