Games of the Twentieth Century. The year 1994

On the gaming front, new genres were being born and existing genres were strengthening their positions. The 3D action game and the hexagonal wargame finally took shape, while the turn-based tactical strategy games also made their presence felt. It was truly a golden year for the gaming industry.

One Must Fall: 2097

  • Genre: fighting
  • Developer: Diversions Entertainment
  • Publisher: Epic Games

There's a lot of metal everywhere. It feels unbelievable, you can literally go crazy. You open your eyes, but it's not your eyes. You raise your hand and make a fist. Then you hit your fist in the palm of your hand and it rumbles in your ears, as if two electric trains collided in a narrow tunnel. It is impossible to get used to it. The brain refuses to believe that a fragile human body has turned into a 450-ton combat robot!

This is roughly how the plot of OMF, the game for which the authors of today's issue spent a lot of time back on the 486 processor, begins. No kung fu, karate or other scary words. Instead, there are huge machines into which your mind is transplanted to take down the enemy.

One Must Fall: 2097 Screenshot

Before the fight, we choose one of ten people to pilot our metal monster. Each of the pilots has their own biography, tied into the story. There's the main villain's bodyguard, a mysterious stranger and a local guru. Each has his own abilities - strength, speed, endurance.

The next choice is a robot. There are ten of them, too. There's the fire-breathing Pyros, the shocking Elektra, Katana with blades instead of hands, the cat-like leaping Jaguar and other dangerous machines. Every robot has its own set of blows and special strokes. The combination of a pilot and a robot results in a fusion of human and iron creature abilities. That is one of the strong points of OMF, the sheer number of combinations.

And then there is the co-op game, the single-player game, and the tournament game. Different levels of difficulty, online mode, arenas with spikes and fighters. Simple music, neat, but without pretensions graphics. One more tournament, one more improvement, buying a new robot - until the world championship is won, you can't tear yourself away. We checked.

One Must Fall: 2097 Screenshot

What Happened Next: nine years later a sequel was released - One Must Fall: Battlegrounds. 3D battles, a network mode, and OMF2097 developer Rob Elam came together in an unequal battle with a weak budget, bad publicity, and lack of time. They lost - the game never became popular.

Mortal Kombat 2

  • Genre: fighting
  • Developer: Midway Games, Probe Entertainment
  • Publisher: Acclaim Entertainment

If you take a list of the most exemplary sequels, Mortal Kombat 2 is sure to be in the top ten. Almost no changes have been made to the game's dynamics, aesthetics, and atmosphere. Many of the old fighters remained in the ranks, and a lot of new ones. Half-man half-dragon Goro gave way to giant Kintaro, black athlete Jax entered the fray, Kung Lao swung his pointed hat, good-natured smile toothy Baraka ...

Combat, blood, magic, spectacular fatality, and most importantly - a lot of off-screen trivia, unobtrusively finishing the story. Where have Sonia Blade and Kano gone? There they are, in the throne room, chained by Shang Tsung's orders.

If you look closely, you can find a lot of changes in gameplay. The uppercut began to toss the opponent in the air, the speed increased, the fighting arsenal of all participants expanded. But this was done surprisingly organically, as if it had always been in the game.

What Happened Next: the series evolved, for a long time remaining one of the few fighting games regularly ported to PC. But it, too, eventually left for consoles, leaving more fundamental genres for PC gamers.

While we were playing Mortal Kombat 2 and One Must Fall...

  • Masutatsu Oyama, founder of the toughest branch of karate, Kekushin-kai, has passed away. It was he who introduced full-contact, championing the position of "true effective karate." He constantly traveled, teaching thousands of people around the world, and often held spectacular performances: beating the necks of bottles with the palm of his hand or killing bulls with his bare hands.

Cannon Fodder

  • Genre: action
  • Developer: Sensible Software, Codemasters
  • Publisher: Virgin Interactive

War! Never been so much fun!

Go to your brother

Kill him with your gun

Leave him dying in his uniform

Dying in the sun.

The chorus from the video, which starred all the developers, perfectly reflects the atmosphere and the essence of the game. Despite the abundance of black humor, despite the banning of the game in some countries, it does not glorify the war, but makes fun of it. Judge for yourself - what is the mission of a classic action game? Well, of course - to kill the terrorists who stole nuclear weapons or drug dealers. What is the mission goal in Cannonball? Kill all the enemies! Who are they, why should they be killed, what have they done? It doesn't matter. Kill, and that's it. Good old "Kill'em all" without all the ideological crap.

Cannon Fodder Screenshot

Did you lose fighters during the walkthrough? The team will be replenished with new recruits and the old ones will turn into graves and crosses on the hill. This ever-growing graveyard is one of the strongest images in video games I've ever seen.

But ideas are ideas, but what about the game itself? At first it's very simple - go around a palm tree and kill two guerrillas - Mission complete! Then your fighters get new stripes (if they survived), the missions will be harder and harder, at some point they are not trivial at all. You are sent into the jungle, snow and deserts. You have to not only shoot, but throw grenades and hit with grenade launchers. It's very easy to blow yourself up, and you can't save yourself during the mission.

All this is accompanied by a very "infectious melody". And if you decide to remember such a great classic, which has long been Cannon Fodder, be sure to watch the full video clip of this song. YouTube or Google Video is at your disposal.

Cannon Fodder Screenshot

What Happened Next: that same year, a sequel was released, Cannon Fodder 2, where it took place in the desert and the enemies were potential accomplices of Osama. Unfortunately, development of Cannon Fodder 3, which was going to be released in 3D, was halted after Sensible Software closed down and Codemasters was sold.

Panzer General

  • Genre: TBS
  • Developer: Strategic Simulations inc.
  • Publisher: Strategic Simulations inc.

Panzer General is not just a famous strategy game and not even just a hit of the mid-90s. This game is a real breakthrough in the game development and the beginning of one of the most famous series in the wargame genre. The name of the game is not accidental. You will have to become the commander of the German army and personally participate in all significant battles of World War II.

The heart of the game is the five campaigns. You can start in Poland in 1939 and progress from battle to battle until you take Moscow and London. If you succeed, the road to Washington will be open. If you are defeated, you have to defend, and at the very end you have a chance to defend Berlin. The branching historical plot is the first fat plus of the game.

Panzer General Screenshot

The second is, of course, the development of the tactical side. There is a huge amount of equipment and infantry at the player's disposal. Each unit not only has its own characteristics, it still needs to be properly combined with the others. You can create a layered defense. You can break into defenses by breaking through from the flanks or by throwing in landing troops. You can bet on bombers, heavy tanks, or artillery. Even now, few games can match Panzer General in terms of richness of solutions.

The third plus is the music and graphics. Unobtrusive military march just fits perfectly into the gameplay, and pictures of tanks and planes look neat and even now looks good in the DOS window.

A fourth plus is playing with each other on the computer or with PBEM. Want a real war? Invite a friend, choose a scenario, and you'll find that being 16 isn't a hindrance to fun.

Panzer General Screenshot

What happened next: PG's success spawned a wave of sequels. Allied General with campaigns on behalf of the Allies, Pacific General with the U.S.-Japan War, Panzer General II, Panzer General 3D Assault. Some were interesting, some were so-so. But none came close to the prominence of the very first PG.

Master of Magic

  • Genre: global strategy
  • Developer: Simtex
  • Publisher: Microprose

Become a powerful wizard and gain complete power over the Earth and the otherworld. Conquer demons, resurrect heroes and build your own empire. Wouldn't that be something to do on a winter's evening?

Master of Magic Screenshot

I remember it like it is now-quiet music, Merlin with wise eyes, noble Ariel, frightening Kali. Barbarians, elves or humans? Or maybe draconians? Which school of magic to choose? Questions and more questions. And here is our village, seemingly so defenseless in the midst of volcanoes and lakes with phantom warriors. The journey to dominion over the magical world has begun, and the real world remains somewhere there behind the back, behind the monitor, dissolving and disappearing for long hours.

Master of Magic has not accidentally topped lists of "Best games of all times". Hundreds of spells? Please! Many combinations of heroes, magic and skills? Please! Tactics and strategy? No problem. And as a result, a tremendous amount of replay value and multiple paths to victory.

Master of Magic Screenshot

I wrote "Destiny of the Hit" on this game, so we won't repeat ourselves, but just remind you that it was in 1994 that one of the best magical strategies came out. There were a lot of bugs in it, it didn't have a network mode, but still it was adored and adored to this day. You have not played it? You need to fix it. Have you played it? Run Dosbox and remember it again. Because the heroes, dragons and sorcerers aren't gone, they just fell asleep when you closed Master of Magic last time. And they're patiently waiting for you to wake up.

Master of Magic Screenshot

What happened next: both attempts to create Master of Magic 2 failed - Simtex collapsed in 1998, and Microprose's business went downhill in 2000, and they failed too. A sequel came in the form of the Age of Wonders series, but it was far from the success of the old MOM.

Warlords II

  • Genre: TBS
  • Developer: Strategic Studies Group
  • Publisher: Strategic Studies Group

This year the turn-based strategy fans have been pleased with the long-awaited sequel to the famous Warlords. How many sleepless nights were spent for the first part in five years... The only thing lamented - the only map, already studied up and down. The continuation was greeted with "cheers" and once again abandoned all business. All the more so that the developers over the years have not wasted time and updated maps. Fundamentally updated graphics, as much as 256 colors, appeared the ability to separate and combine squads ... Fans of tactics and did not give to manage the battles, limited to the possibility to specify the order of battle in the squad. But the strategists were pleased with a novelty that was unseen at the time - the possibility to look through all the records of moves so that you could analyze your mistakes and successful decisions. Diplomacy also added its own flavor.

Warlords II Screenshot

And the incoming heroes? Oh, they're worthy of a separate mention. First of all, there was nowhere to get them. If we lost an incoming hero, we had to bite our elbows while watching our opponent voraciously explore the ruins until the next one arrived. Second, a well-grown hero could replace an entire army if approached properly. Finally, heroes could perform quests, which made their already privileged position in the army all the more exceptional.

Warlords II Screenshot

What Happened Next: there were a lot of sequels, though less successful than the first two parts. And then there are several fantasy novels based on the events of Warlords II. The creator of the universe, Steve Fawkner, promises not to abandon the fans and to this day continues to work on the sequels.

While we've been playing Warlords and Master of Magic...

  • John Nash won the Nobel Prize in economics - for his fundamental analysis of equilibrium in non-cooperative game theory. Later, the famous mathematician's life story was the basis of the movie Mind Games, where the main character struggles with mental illness and eventually receives recognition from the scientific community.

System Shock

  • Genre: FPS
  • Developer: Looking Glass Studios / Origin Systems
  • Publisher: Electronic Arts

Once again, the future is cyberpunk. The world is ruled by the TriOptimum Corporation, and it owns not only Earth but also the neighboring colonies and space stations in orbits of the planets. Rare hacker dares to break into secret files, and he who does try, will be immediately caught and placed before a choice: prison or a small mission, which would be nice not to advertise.

System Shock Screenshot

Could the hacker have suspected that the task would be to block the module responsible for the morality and ethics of the artificial intelligence SHODAN controlling the space station "Citadel". The result was not long in coming - soon the station's population was partly exterminated, partly zombified, the laboratories were boiling over with the development of a mutagenic virus, and a giant industrial laser was aimed in the direction of Mother Earth.

The only survivor is a notorious hacker, and that's because SHODAN had some kind of a plan for him. The first task is to get out from under the control of the AI, and then to destroy all its evil plans. And though you will have to do this with a gun at your side, you won't be able to call System Shock just an action game.

System Shock Screenshot

Slaying monsters is only a small part of what you will have to do on the pass. Hacking computers, solving puzzles, traveling through virtual space. It was first applied in System Shock, a way of presenting the story through the characters' diaries left here and there. Reading someone else's mail and listening to audio recordings, the player reconstructed the events that had happened, bit by bit.

And unlike the pseudo-three-dimensional Doom, you could look up and down, jump, crouch, and even move sideways while peeking around a corner. Flying in cyberspace denied the concept of a floor with a ceiling, somewhat reminiscent of the Descent gameplay. I wish the controls were more convenient...

System Shock Screenshot

What Happened Next: a lot. The heartbreaking second part, regularly ranked in the charts of the scariest games. The excellent Deus Ex, which borrowed heavily from System Shock. And, of course, the two parts of BioShock, which have moved away from cyberpunk and space themes, but have retained much in common with its legendary predecessor.

Jagged Alliance

  • Genre: TBS
  • Developer: Madlab Software
  • Publisher: Sir-Tech Software

Sometimes nuclear tests on tropical islands have unexpected consequences. For example, on one of them, called Metavira, new plants with strong healing properties appeared. Scientists were immediately interested in them, but, unfortunately, not only them - it just so happens that the laboratories for processing valuable sprouts seized the shrewd businessman Lucas Santino, populating the island with armed guards. The former owners of the enterprise have no choice but to gather what's left and turn to mercenaries for help.

Jagged Alliance Screenshot

All we have at first is a suitcase of money and access to the website of the A.I.M. agency, which provides the services of professional thugs. The personalities are one brighter than the other. They want a lot of money, and on a daily basis, so budgeting is one of the most important tasks. And at first, many high-level fighters just turn out to go on the job, some justifying the urgent errands of the wife, and some and say bluntly: "I do not know how you do, so I'm sorry, I do not intend to risk. And as long as the authority is low, we have to settle for crooked-eyed paralytics from the bottom of the list.

Jagged Alliance Screenshot

But once the squad is recruited, you can land on the island and get down to the main course - tactical battles. It's a little reminiscent of that year's X-Com Defense, but here we're not fighting big-headed aliens, but very ordinary people. And the tactical tasks are, on average, much more difficult. For example, have time to seize the complex of buildings, without allowing any of the enemies to get to the lever and blow everything to hell, - otherwise we lose the profits. All subsequent games in the series and its imitators treated the player much more leniently.

Jagged Alliance Screenshot

What Happened Next: the Deadly Games add-on, the second installment and its follow-up Unfinished Business. Then the series moved, where there was another Wildfire supplement and numerous follow-ups: the Silent Storm series, Jazz: Work for Hire, Brigade E5 with its sequels.

UFO: Enemy Unknown

  • Genre: TBS
  • Developer: Mythos Games
  • Publisher: MicroProse

It's the end of the second millennium. You're in charge of the international X-COM service in charge of defending Earth from aliens. It's a half military, half scientific organization, with its own bases, laboratories, factories, and emergency response teams. On a good day, it manages to shoot down a few saucers, fly a SWAT team to the crash site, mop up the surviving aliens, and return with the spoils to the delight of the scientists and engineers. In the bad one, the aliens would terrorize the crowded area, the governments would cut funding, or they would make some kind of secret pact with the visitors from outer space.

UFO: Enemy Unknown Screenshot

The game consisted of two parts. In the strategic one, the globe rotated leisurely in the center of the screen, where you could place bases, track the movement of UFOs, call in interceptors, conduct reconnaissance, develop the economy and science. Sometimes it was even necessary to produce weapons to survive... for sale, to make ends meet and to pay the rent for the bases.

UFO: Enemy Unknown Screenshot

When a transport ship landed on a crash or terror site, the game switched to the tactical phase. Real time changed to turn-based mode with surprisingly deep tactics, using cover, smoke screens, grenades, and even compact tanks. Do not relax even during your turn: the enemies react to our movements and may well open fire when they see a SWAT team member peeking out from behind the corner.

UFO: Enemy Unknown Screenshot

Exploring enemy weapons, interrogating captured aliens and developing technology, we move step by step through the story. The final chord - the main invader base on Mars is revealed... the flight... landing... a major battle... victory for the earthlings. Surprising but true: UFO can be replayed for years, it doesn't get old and is captivating every time.

UFO: Enemy Unknown Screenshot

What Happened Next: The second part of the game - Terror From the Deep - took the events under the water, where the unscathed aliens have taken refuge. Then the extremely controversial Apocalypse followed, and even later - a whole series of similar sequels. But the series lost the main thing: the aesthetics, juicy colors and simple turn-based mode, turning into an overloaded simulation of running through gray corridors.

Doom 2: Hell on Earth

  • Genre: FPS
  • Developer: id Software
  • Publisher: GT Interactive Software

It's not uncommon for a sequel to kill the original idea. Less often, the sequel skillfully continues it. And in quite a few isolated cases, it expands it further, as if to say, "This is what it was supposed to be! In the case of Doom, the secret probably lies in the novelty of the genre itself, which was rapidly emerging in those years. The first game was a breakthrough and heralded the 3D action game to the world, cementing the success of Wolfenstein. The second, however, went deep, surpassing the original many times over. The incomparable design of levels, concise and original at the same time. Familiar weapons. New forms of infernal life. Constant tension. Majestic yet unsettling music - so successful that you can still find its tablature on the Internet, handpicked by fans for acoustic guitar...

Doom 2: Hell on Earth Screenshot

...and very high difficulty. Since then, the developers have accustomed themselves to cherishing the player, tossing him consolation prizes, compassionately holding his hand, and leading him to the final credits. But then the player was challenged, and not everyone was able to answer. Tell me, did you play through Doom 2? On Ultra Violence? Without the codes? Well, or did you play idclip once, just to admire Romero's stake-covered head? Then let me shake your hand. How many games since then have offered such a serious challenge? Only a handful.

Doom 2: Hell on Earth Screenshot

What Happened Next: Doom lay low for ten years before the third part was born. Technologically advanced, but rather inarticulate - "yes, but not oh-so-good". The heyday of the series came in 1994, and while id Software is still alive today, it has yet to offer anything equally grandiose.

Full Throttle

  • Genre: quest
  • Developer: LucasArts
  • Publisher: LucasArts

Cool biker Ben is in trouble. Not only has his gang been signed to escort Malcolm Corley, founder of Corley Motors, the last motorcycle manufacturer in the country, but he himself is also wanted by the police on charges of murdering him. True, Ben had managed to talk to the dying Malcolm, but that didn't make things any easier. Now he not only has to do a hundred and twenty-two cases and wash his good name, but also to get on the board of directors of "Corley Motors", so that the bikes, so close to his heart, continue to go on sale. Of course he can do it!

Full Throttle Screenshot

LucasArts has taken the matter extremely seriously. For the first time in the history of games, they invited professional actors for the voiceover, including Mark Hamill, who became the main villain for a change. Music too, was commissioned to the professionals - the rock band Gone Jackals. Thoroughly worked on the interface, gameplay and got a frank masterpiece, which deservedly won the hearts of millions.

Full Throttle Screenshot

What Happened Next: in the spring of 2000, LucasArts began production of Full Throttle: Payback, the official sequel to the original's storyline. Then the project changed hands and was frozen. Then came the announcement of Full Throttle II: Hell on Wheels and another manager change. None of the above ever came to fruition, but it wasn't officially shut down either. Let's hope someday we'll be able to drive in an updated Full Throttle.