Ah, the inevitable “best of” column; they infest the Internet in the December/ January period. My one?s a little late; in fact I wasn?t planning to do one at all. I didn?t play through enough of 2003?s new game releases to really make a judgment as to which are the best. I hardly bought a game at all. I was mostly true to my word from Article 2 (Baang: Or Why I No Longer Buy Computer Games). The one exception was Medieval: Total War. I fully intend to buy one game in 2004, and that will be Rome: Total War. Okay, I may succumb to temptation and buy Championship Manager Season 2003/04, since that will be last of those games to have the name Collyer attached to it. Important to those of us who care.

    This “best of” will be a little different in that I?m going to talk about the games I played in 2003, not those I bought, and definitely not limited to games released last year. Just as well, otherwise this would be a one thousand word ode to Medieval: Total War. On then, to the games that kept me sitting in the glow of my monitor for many a night this year.

    Total Annihilation

    For someone who is not really a fan of the RTS genre, I?ve been captivated by this game for many years. Anything slightly RTS-related since then I have avoided, unless it came with an emphasis on the S. This year I finished the Arm campaign for the first time ever, quite an achievement, I thought. Yes, I?m not the quickest game player on the block. This game is helped in its old age by having options for screen resolutions that modern monitors can handle and do justice too. A lesson certain other games could learn from (hint, hint).


    I didn?t buy this, I downloaded it, and that doesn?t count. Crimsonland is a free (unless you want to get the full version) shooter you can download. It?s a simple game that nevertheless provided a welcome break for me. Something I could play for five or ten minutes in between doing other things. It?s a game I can recommend, for some mindless alien-blasting fun. Not the kind of game you?ll play for eight hours straight, but then they don?t all need to be like that, do they?

    Medieval: Total War

    Speaking of eight hour gaming sessions. This one had to come up. What can I say, I love this game. Sitting here, I?m finding it hard to pick a flaw. Wait- you can?t play as the Mongols. I wish you could. Hmm, not really a flaw I guess. For me, this remains the epitome, the shining diamond of computer gaming. I?ll stop now, this is getting embarrassing.

    Medal of Honor

    I loved you for a while, but I?m over you now. Sure you were cute, pretty even, but eventually those little flaws drove me mad. The incessant team killing, and the inability to stop people taking the sniper rifle in games titled “no snipers” were the big ones, but there were others too. You?re on this list as my way of saying “thanks for the memories.” But I?ve moved on, now. I?m with someone new. I won?t be coming by any more.

    Alpha Centauri

    I surprised myself when I re-installed this game after an absence of about 2 years. It?s still good, and a breath of fresh air after the crud that was Civ 3. This game has a useable interface. His game has an interesting play area. It does fall down in the area of inaccurate pseudo-history, but I can live with that. The science fiction they?ve employed in this title is good, and the game progresses as a story, in a genre that many would say defies storytelling. It?s still a gem.

    Magic: The Gathering Online

    What can I say? Well I can say it provides me with all the gaming experience I want, at my fingertips. Without this I would no longer be playing Magic at all, as the schedule of physical magic games simply doesn?t support responsible family life. I spend a lot less now than I did, and I play more. In the first three weeks I think I played more games than in the eighteen months I was ostensibly “into” M:tG. The difference is convenience, and while the system is flawed, it?s still pretty good. As a fan of the art (bring back Rebecca Guay!) I think it would be nice for them to include some hi-res versions of the cards for those that want them, but otherwise, I?m content. I have an endless supply of people to test my latest crappy decks against, and an instant entrance to the Limited format I enjoy, and where my new cards come from.

    What About Diablo II?

    This year wasn?t great for me and Diablo II, it finished with me having not played at all since August. The patch came and I duly downloaded it, but felt no need to play it. I finally started in January, and have probably played about 4 hours worth this year. I think what the patch did show is that the existing linear gameplay is not enough to sustain my interest anymore. Maybe that?s harsh. Who knows, I may pick up the game again in a month or so, and start playing through, but right now there are other things I would rather do. I?ve started a few new characters, but felt no reason to spend hours leveling them up? for what? To level up again? No, I fear I?ve reached the point where I can?t be bothered getting on this treadmill any more.

    Enough of me- what games took up most of your time this year? Was the patch enough to drag you back to the fold, or did you never leave the fold in the first place? Did another game or twelve come out and capture your interest? You know where to find me.

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