1. Computing

Strategy Games

Artificial intelligence has rarely provided an adequate challenge for computer gamers, so the increasing number of strategy games offering multiplayer online capabilities is a welcome sight. In most cases you are required to gather resources, research new technology, build up an army, and use it to vanquish your enemy. The player limit is typically between 6 and 12.

StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm Multiplayer Changes
A breakdown of the new units added to StarCraft 2 multiplayer with the first expansion, Heart of the Swarm, as well as a look at some of the changes made to Battle.net.

An Overview of Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas
Multiplayer online battle arenas are new breed of game inspired by the famous Defence of the Ancients mod for Warcraft 3. This is a brief summary of what this genre is all about and a list of some of the more popular MOBAs released so far.

Age of Empires Online Review (PC)
A review of the free-to-play RTS game Age of Empires Online from Microsoft and Gas Powered Games.

StarCraft 2 Preview
A sequel to StarCraft, perhaps the most highly-regarded multiplayer RTS game of all time, is no small event. It's hard to understate the impact that StarCraft had on the genre, or the dedication of the incredible cult following that has grown around the game in the decade since its release, especially in Korea. Here we are some 12 years after the original game launched, and StarCraft 2 is undergo…

Top Multiplayer RTS Games
There's nothing quite like breaching your enemy's fortifications with a catapult, or swarming their inferior base with an inpenetrable wall of mammoth tanks. If you're after some frenzied multiplayer skimishes, here is a short list of some of the best real-time strategy games around.

Multiplayer Strategy and Sports Games 101
The ability to compete online with other players is becoming a common feature in recent strategy and sports games. Strategy games give you control of entire armies and empires, rather than just a single avatar. Sports games let you guide your team to glory, or test your driving skills against others on the track. We've got some basics for people new to this kind of gaming.

Boundless Planet Review (PC)
Boundless Planet is one of only a handful of games attempting to take the real-time strategy concept into the massively multiplayer realm. The challenge isn't just a technical one - there are a lot of potential pitfalls in designing a game of this kind. Boundless Planet launched in early November, and I had a chance to see how this new MMORTS comes together.

Neveron Q&A
In the hex board games of old, it was necessary to put some thought into the strengths and weaknesses of your position, and plan your battles with care. If you long for a return to that sort gaming in a multiplayer online environment, you might enjoy Neveron. It's a free browser-based strategy game inspired by Battletech. I had a chance to discuss Neveron with developer Randy Shepardson.

Act of War: Direct Action
Act of War is a RTS game that features modern military warfare and impressive graphics. Up to 8 players can skirmish online.

Battle for Middle-earth Review
Battle for Middle-earth is an attempt to merge the classic Lord of the Rings world with a real-time strategy game. Although it falls a little short of the epic conflicts of the books and movies, it does a pretty good job of bringing these disparate elements together. Here's a look at the multiplayer side of this RTS title.

Age of Empires III
Excellent graphics, an historical setting, and the same solid RTS gameplay as its predecessors have made this title a best-seller. Persistent home cities add another dimension to the strategy, and there is a good matchmaking service for finding online games.

Balance of Power
A free turn-based strategy game where players conquer countries, build cities and develop their territory to become a powerful ruler. It has both single and multiplayer modes, a graphical interface, and a high score list.

Ballerium
California game developer Majorem has launched their free massively multiplayer real-time strategy game, Ballerium. You play as one of seven races that are fighting over control of the planet, both militarily and economically.

Carnage Blender
Carnage Blender is a free strategy RPG with a strong economic component. Players compete with each other to build the most powerful team.

Codename: Panzers
Solid 3D graphics and a design that focuses on combat have made the Codename: Panzer series very appealing to WWII strategy gamers. Phase One and Phase Two are real-time games with support for up to 8 players in several multiplayer modes.

Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars
Going back to its roots, Command & Conquer 3 revives the epic conflict between the Global Defense Initiative and the Brotherhood of Nod. There's a third side called the Scrin in the fray now, but you'll remember the Mammoth tanks and ion cannons from earlier games in the series. C&C3 has a good selection of multiplayer maps and Battlecast functionality, which makes spectating games very easy.

Command & Conquer: The First Decade
The Command & Conquer series from Westwood has been a favorite for many RTS fans. Command & Conquer: Generals came out in 2003 and has impressive 3D graphics, but there are several good multiplayer titles in this series.

Company of Heroes
Often referred to as one of the best PC games of 2006, Company of Heroes ties real-time strategy to a WWII setting with great results. The graphics are spectacular and the game allows you to make effective use of the terrain. The first expansion, Opposing Fronts, adds two more factions to the game.

Cosmic Encounter Online
4 players compete for cosmic domination using strategy and diplomacy in this unique Shockwave game. Games are highly social, last only 30 minutes or so, and the basic aliens can be played for free.

Cossacks II
Fight through a particularly interesting period of European history in this recreation of the Napoleonic wars. This version has updated 3D graphics and several good multiplayer modes.

Droid Arena
Build and program your own robot to fight other robots in arenas. Features 3D graphics and runs in a Web browser. Try it free of charge for one game season.

Empire Earth II
The second game in the Empire Earth series covers 12,000 years of history. There are hundreds of unique units, battlefields which are affected by weather conditions, and nine different co-operative and competitive online gameplay modes.

GamesTotal
GamesTotal has 2 browser-based strategy games available: Unification Wars and Galactic Conquest. Sign up for free on their Web site.

GameTable Online
GameTable specializes in board games that have been converted into online games for the PC. A few of the titles currently available are 10 Days in Africa, Bosworth, Cosmic Wimpout, and Lemmings in Space.

Hearts of Iron
Real-time strategy based on World War II. Up to 8 players can participate in an online game, and every country in the world is playable.

IndustryPlayer
Create your own industry holding and build a corporate empire in this multiplayer business simulation.

Kohan II: Kings of War
Set in a fantasy world of swords and wizards, Kohan II does and exemplary job of bringing battlefield tactics to the forefront. There are a wide variety of races to play, and the AI is good enough to be a welcome addition even to multiplayer skirmishes.

Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle-earth
This game recreates the major battles from the books and films using a familiar real-time strategy format. The resource system is simplified to give players more time to focus on combat. In addition to the single-player campaign, up to 8 people can skirmish on a broad range of multiplayer maps.

Lords of EverQuest
Real-time strategy based on the world of EverQuest with multiplayer options for up to 12 players.

Lux
Lux is a turn-based strategy game inspired by Risk. You can play against other people online, or you solo against a variety of computer opponents. Lux is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Massive Assault
This 3D strategy game offers impressive graphics and a turn-based approach. Easy to learn and quite different from the many real-time strategy games on the market.

Master of Orion 3
This series focuses on turn-based strategy in outer space. Take control of a galactic civilization and attempt to lead it to military, economic, and political greatness.

Navy Field
This unique game is described as a massively multiplayer naval strategy game. It offers US, British, Japanese, and German forces, with over 90 different types of ships from WWII. Battles can involve up to 128 players (64 vs. 64).

Rise of Nations
With 18 playable races and a tech tree that covers everything from swords to missiles, Rise of Nations is a remarkably ambitious title. Loaded with game types and multiplayer options, Rise of Nations has won many accolades from the RTS community.

Savage Arena
A free turn-based strategy game where you compete with other players in an arena for gold and glory.

SkyLords
SkyLords is an online, browser-based, massively multiplayer strategy game full of diplomacy, trading, piracy, espionage, space battles, and more.

StarCraft
StarCraft has become an institution among RTS fans. This classic science fiction title is still played competitively at major game events and the community shows little sign of slowing down. Play over Battle.net with up to 7 other people.

Steel Panthers - World at War
An old-school hex board style game that is now available as a free download (435 MB). Great turn-based strategy set in World War II complete with a scenario editor and play-by-email capabilities.

Strategy Planet
A good souce of computer strategy game news, reviews, and previews.

Stronghold 2
Building and laying siege to castles is the focal point of this real-time strategy sequel. This version has a 3D graphics engine and even more soldier types, fortifications, and siege weapons than its predecessors.

Supreme Commander
Described as the spiritual successor to Total Annihilation, Supreme Commander manages to scale up the RTS experience a few notches. The game supports an astounding number and variety of units, and the tech tree is similarly vast. A unique camera interface allows you zoom out to a tactical map that gives you a broad overview of the conflict.

TA Universe
Total Annihilation is a futuristic RTS that was among the first to use 3D unit and terrain models. The official site is no longer available but TA Universe is a good source of information on the game.

Total War Series
The Total War series is renowned for its depth, large scale battles, and unparalleled levels of strategic detail. Games in this series include Shogun: Total War, Medieval: Total War and Rome: Total War, which was released in 2004. Online play is limited to battles, as there are no multiplayer options in campaign mode.

Tower Games
Multiplayer browser-based games available on a pay-as-you-use basis. Their first release is Line of Muskets, an American Civil War strategy game, designed specifically for head-to-head play.

Trash
Surviving humans and mutants battle for control of the primary resource, trash, in this unusual RTS game. There is an emphasis on teamwork and it supports up to 24 players online.

Warcraft III
The Warcraft series has become legendary among PC strategy gamers, and the latest version does not disappoint. It features expanded multiplayer options for up to 12 players over Battle.net, team play, competition ladders, and other goodies.

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War
Based on a famous tabletop strategy series, Dawn of War is a curious combination of fantasy and science fiction, beautifully rendered in 3D. Skirmish with up to 8 players online.

World in Conflict
Based on an alternate history of the Cold War, World in Conflict is a fast-paced RTS where NATO and Soviet forces battle over the west coast of America. In a fresh approach, they've forgone base-building completely, and you control a very limited number of units compared to most games of this kind, but this gives it a strong tactical component.

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