Games of the Twentieth Century. The year 2000

The venerable twentieth century has come to an end. Another twelve months, and we say goodbye to a century of great wars and revolutions, colossal confrontation and great achievements in art and science. Oddly enough, it was the turn of an era and was a turning point in the history of computer games. If the memorable 1998 thundered gigantic releases, the last year of the twentieth century has affected the industry almost more than all nineties.

American McGee's Alice


  • Genre: arcade action
  • Developer: Rogue Entertainment
  • Publisher: Electronic Arts

Mr. McGee was doomed to stand out from the crowd and avoid the beaten path. His mother, in choosing her son's name, was convinced that there were no more Amerikans on Earth. She got what she wanted: you won't find anyone like McGee anywhere. And his name is in the title deservedly. Apart from this Irish Yankee, no one can so interpret the tale of the venerable English mathematician... Though we're pretty sure Charles Lutwidge Dodgson would have appreciated McGee's work.

American McGee's Alice Screenshot

The game continues the plot of Carroll's books about the adventures of the curious Alice. Her parents died in a terrible fire, the orphan blamed herself for everything and fell into a catatonic state for many years. And then the Wonderland created by her imagination returned, distorted beyond recognition. Power in the once cozy world was usurped by the Worm Queen, who wrapped tentacles of terror and rings of nightmares around the invaded lands. Where there were blooming meadows, now a scorched desert, and the inhabitants crippled or enslaved. Who better than Alice to restore Wonderland to its former form?

There was a hitch, though. Back in 2000, we were already convinced that McGee's Alice had a marvelous storyline and design, but the game was too complicated for him. "Alice" was a simple arcade with a few weapons (but what they were! cards with cutting edge, killing stars, snuffbox devil, freezing rod, musket...) and plain cutting of every living thing on the level. With such an entourage (Amerikan was very clever at straddling the line between violent delirium and horror platitude) - and such primitive gameplay! And yet the audience remembered not the weak battles, but the surreal landscapes and the piercing stare of Alice's green eyes. And her sharp knife.

American McGee's Alice Screenshot

What Happened Next: Mr. McGee later spawned the oddball Scrapland, and then repeatedly tried to repeat the successful Alice experience - in Bad Day L.A. and American McGee's Grimm. In both projects, along with an interesting style and outstanding design, there was a problem with the content. Now McGee's is developing a sequel to "Alice" - Madness will return as early as June 14 this year.


While we were playing American McGee's Alice...

  • "American Beauty" picks up the Oscars for Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Best Actor.





Deus Ex


  • Genre: FPS, RPG
  • Developer: Ion Storm
  • Publisher: Eidos Interactive

Working at the intersection of genres is hard. Both hardened role-players, fans of hip shooters, and neat silent types with a love of back-stabbing must be satisfied. Not only that, but every way in the trifecta of "warrior/thief/talker" should not be for the tick. Well, Warren Spector succeeded twice, and God is known to be partial to the number three.

Deus Ex Screenshot

Deus Ex continues and builds on the glorious traditions of System Shock. Large, detailed locations that are fun to simply stroll through. A wide variety of weapons - guns for every taste and every occasion! Special abilities that have become nowadays augmentations-nano-implants: sparks from eyes, hydraulic biceps, invisibility field - what can a SWAT agent do without it? A simple system of skills - to tame the adepts of role-playing. A powerful plot with three endings, telling of a dystopian world of the not-too-distant future, where one secret society diligently takes the palm from the other, and the protagonist - JC Denton - helps the right cause. In cyberpunk, though, it's never clear what's on who's mind, who's sincere and who's sneaky, who's friend and who's foe. Of course, there are the standard villains, like Majestic-12, a splinter group from the Illuminati to overthrow them. But in the camp of JC's allies, things are not so simple... In the game's finale, it's up to him - that's us - to make a choice.

You can play through Deus Ex any way you want, and that's the truth. There is no better or more convenient way, there are just a few different approaches. Whether to sneak through a trap-lined secret passage, talk the guards into the persistent Denton, cut everyone up without mercy - or "kiss" with sniper shots. Or sneakily slaughter them all. Or throw grenades at them.

Deus Ex Screenshot

And Deus Ex also managed to talk to the recipient on serious topics - about the nature of freedom, whether humans need it, whether they deserve it. Maybe civilization needs a ruling hand, secretly ruling the world? Play around, think about it.

What Happened Next: the simplified sequel didn't lose to the original, but was actually weaker. Then Warren left Ion Storm and took a job at a division of Disney. Eidos was later bought by Square Enix, along with all the brands and know-how. The long-awaited sequel to the great series, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, will be released this year under the label of the creators of Final Fantasy.






Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn


  • Genre: RPG
  • Developer: Black Isle Studios, Bioware
  • Publisher: Interplay

Rarely does a game go without a sequel. Often the second and subsequent installments lose heavily to the original - not all mechanics can stand the test of time. Cases in which a project with a number 2 in the title brought more success than its predecessor can be counted on the fingers. One hand can safely be given to the ever-memorable triumvirate of Black Isle, Interplay and Bioware.

Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn Screenshot

The restless geniuses Fergus Urquhart, Ray Musick and Chris Avellon have already "shot" Fallout 2, which became an idol in the blink of an eye. Now it was the turn of Faerun - with a light hand of Maestro hundreds of thousands players abandoned everything and returned to the home and cozy world of D&D. Especially since not much has changed: a cosmetic repair of outdated graphics, adjustment of the balance, a new storyline, new locations and content. What remained unchanged was the harsh tactical gameplay that does not forgive mistakes, the powerful script and the vast universe, charming in its unpredictability.

Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn Screenshot

What Happened Next: the number of successful sequels grew: Icewind Dale II, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic... Terrible cataclysms, which overtook the above-mentioned holy trinity, did not affect the ability to develop their (and others') ideas: Neverwinter Nights II, Mass Effect 2, Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas. Dragon Age 2 is coming out, which will once again put the infallibility of RPG masters to the test.






Diablo II


  • Genre: RPG
  • Developer: Blizzard North
  • Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment

Blizzard is a unique company. So many years of success and not a single failed or even average project. Exclusively hits and masterpieces. And such a significant game as Diablo, not without reason, demanded that the banquet continue.

And the banquet continued. The defeated Diablo gained the support of his half-brothers, and returned to our world to make an even bigger mess. In place of the three nearly indistinguishable classes came five diametrically opposed: the paladin - the knight of the shield and sword, the barbarian without a brain, but with an axe, the necromancer, grabbing heat with others' hands (bone), the fragile sorceress, who brings down the sky to the heads of monsters, and the muscular Amazon with its views on the position of men in society. Each has a unique, full-fledged skill tree. Means of extermination of evil spirits increased, but the essence has not changed: here you went to the dark forest at the mercy of yet another boss, stomped on all detractors, broke the nose of this very boss, filled your pockets with ill- lying loot, returned to camp and peddled the loot to the local merchant. We rested and started over.

Diablo II Screenshot

Probably the main and most useful difference between Diablo II and Diablo I is variety. The original lacked it: dungeons, dungeons, skeletons, skeletons. The second part allows you to stroll through the rainy monastery lands, the dunes near Loot Golaine, the dense jungles of Kurasta, and even Hell. By cap and barin: each area has its own colorful characters and no less colorful fauna. Aggressive and rich. Locations are randomly generated so that repeated walks through the corpses would be more interesting - and they were, each time Diablo II became more and more beautiful and fun.

Diablo II Screenshot

What Happened Next: the wonderful Lord of Destruction add-on added an entire barbarian city in the distant mountains, along with a bunch of levels and a new super-boss, Baal. New characters were also added: an assassin - a slick lady in a tight suit with a passion for all sorts of tricks and barbed-cutting pleasures of life, and a druid - the stern lord of beasts. After several years of dominance over the Warcraft series "Blizzard" has announced a fourth part, which will please our eyes this year or next year.






Ground Control


  • Genre: RTS
  • Developer: Massive Entertainment
  • Publisher: Sierra On-Line

Aren't you tired of this fuss over strategy games? Building all sorts of barracks-sheds, the frantic running of collective farmers for resources, the confusing system of expensive upgrades with minimal effect - are you bored? Massive once thought the same, and a masterpiece of brevity appeared - Ground Control.

In a distant and not bright future, earthly governments, as usual, have ceded the leading role to mega-corporations. The player goes into the service of the Kraven Company in order to maul the sides of fanatics from the religious order of the New Dawn. Battles take place in the vast expanse of Krieg 7-B (the second moon of the seventh planet near the star Krieg). In Ground Control, unlike the vast majority of real-time strategy games of the time that exploited the principles of C&C, Warcraft and StarCraft, base building, resource gathering and all improvements are completely amputated. Battles, and only battles, not a second of peace! Only once in a while is it allowed to call for help from orbit if things get really bad.

Ground Control Screenshot

It was a crystal-clear tactic. Different types of units with their weaknesses and strengths, which are not always and everywhere effective - "where infantry and armored train can't go..." you know the rest. The now obvious idea was only gaining momentum in 2000. The fighters gained an advantage by being at altitude and by striking at the flank or the rear. Shade and dense vegetation hid the units: ambush them at your pleasure! Oh, and don't get your own, the bullet is stupid (the rocket suit it well), it can't tell a Red Army soldier from a Templar. To the delight of lovers of virtual beauties there's a free camera, with which you can stare into the sky. To admire the volley of artillery, for example.

Ground Control Screenshot

What Happened Next: the success of the game allowed the Swedes to release a sequel, where the public was still allowed to summon reinforcements by paying with abstract resources. What's interesting, the credits were obtained solely by sacrificing their units - in order to keep the balance. The same principle applies to Massive Entertainment's latest game, World in Conflict (2007), about the "hot" phase of the Cold War. WIC, as expected, was the ideological successor to Ground Control.






Nox


  • Genre: RPG
  • Developer: Westwood Studios
  • Publisher: Electronic Arts

Experimental project Nox was "lucky" to be released almost simultaneously with Diablo 2. Perhaps that's why the offensive label "clone" was attached to it, although these games have in common - only the isometric view and the pace of the action.

Everything else, from the mechanics of combat and role-playing system to the way the story is presented, differs dramatically. Perhaps the most relevant comparison would be with Heroes of Might and Magic and King's Bounty. In Diablo 2 there were randomly created locations and endless monsters, and in Nox - a sequence of eleven manually drawn chapters with a strictly measured number of battles. Diablo 2 had tons of junk with indexes and prefixes, while Nox had every item named after it. In Diablo 2 the character gained level after level, and the player himself scattered characterization points and choose skills, and in Nox was not even a role system as such - the character gradually grew stronger, but new skills he got either by plot, or by finding special books.

Nox Screenshot

Each of the three classes had its own storyline branch. They all started the same way - the evil sorceress Hecuba summoned evil forces and accidentally captured a simple American boy named Jack. Finding himself in a fantasy world, the guy was not confused, traded his sneakers and T-shirt for a sword and chain mail (or a staff and a hat) and went to assert his right to return home. And how it all ended - return, humility, or even marriage to a rehabilitated sorceress - it depended on the player's choice.

Combat style also differed - the warrior did not need mana and met all the trouble with an armored chest or a kick to the stomach. The spellcaster shot a bow and walked in the company of summoned creatures, while the mage relied on... fast legs. Only ceaseless running could save his frail body from desecration, and the constant need for mana required him to constantly shift from one source to another. There was no stately pomp and pomp; even the loose cloak was not a ceremonial garment that stressed his importance, but a light and loose garment that did not restrict his movements.

Nox Screenshot

What Happened Next: Westwood existed for another three years and then closed, remaining in the memory of players as a creator of excellent strategies and quests. Nox had neither a sequel nor any ideological followers. Perhaps it is for the best - but the game has remained unique.






Hitman: Codename 47


  • Genre: TPS, Stealth
  • Developer: IO Interactive
  • Publisher: Eidos Interactive

Ever since Thief: The Dark Project, the general public has been used to intersperse battles with miniguns at the ready with intelligent stealth-action fun. The adventures of talented thief Garrett were beloved by many, but the genre still had a lot to grow. In the same year with Thief: The Dark Age, the first part of the adventures of one of the most charismatic heroes of computer games was released.

Hitman: Codename 47 Screenshot

Agent 47, cold, calculating and bald as a billiard ball, works on assignments from the Agency engaged in contract murders and industrial espionage. He has no respect for noisy shootouts and hand-to-hand combat. His method is to sneak undetected into a guarded area, gain his trust, and slip poison into the victim's cabbage soup. The game does not encourage, but punishes "loud" passing. Every extra corpse is another inconvenience for the Agency's cleaners, another piece of evidence against Hitman, another hefty fine. So the bald kid with the mysterious barcode on the back of his head regularly (and very quickly!) disguises himself to impersonate other people and confuse his pursuers. The assassin has all the achievements of the modern art of "elimination" in his arsenal: a snare, explosives, sniper rifles, poison... Alternatively, you can fake an accident (burning in a sauna - it happens!).

Of course, if you can't stand covert operations, grab a machine gun and use your own methods, but that's no fun at all! Hitman was a revelation of sorts: a unique action film where fighting is a mauvais ton, and the best remedy for all problems is a guitar string. Oh yes, also Hitman: Codename 47 is one of the pioneers of ragdoll body physics.

Hitman: Codename 47 Screenshot

What Happened Next: the Hitman series was a resounding success. The year 2002 saw Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, which developed the ideas of the original; two years later Hitman: Contracts was released, with a strong bias towards action. Finally, 2006 saw the release of Hitman: Blood Money, the pinnacle of assassination craftsmanship - in addition to the huge number of opportunities to "take out" the target, an "accident" system was introduced. The most talented killers stage accidents without firing a single shot! And chandeliers fell on their heads... And then, in 2009, the publisher Eidos, with which IO Interactive had worked all those years, fell into the clutches of Square Enix and was soon shut down. The Japanese invariably deny rumors about Hitman 5 development, and meanwhile the IO's ideas are successfully exploited by Splinter Cell, Death to Spies and many others.


While we were playing Hitman: Codename 47...

  • Computers around the world lost count: the "Y2K" problem.





Icewind Dale


  • Genre: action
  • Developer: Black Isle Studios
  • Publisher: Interplay Entertainment

In fact, Icewind Dale is secondary in many ways. Using the Dungeons & Dragons system, it almost completely copies the earlier Baldur's Gate in mechanics. But that doesn't mean "blindly copying your own ideas" - more like a healthy conservatism.

Icewind Dale Screenshot

If in Baldur's Gate we started the game as a lone warrior with a warm heart, a cool head, and so far clean hands, in the Valley of the Ice Wind we have to assemble our own "flying" squad before launching. All according to Bioware canon: race, skills, worldview, color of stockings. The radical difference is something else.

Icewind Dale is linear. There's not the limitless amount of dialogue inherent in Planescape: Torment, nor is there any freedom. Of the trio of BG, PT and ID, the latter pays much more attention to combat. Not for nothing is the maximum level here twice as high as in Baldur's Gate! And from the very beginning the player is honing team tactics, not distracted by the search for a suitable companion. As pop goes, so comes: the battles are more difficult than in all the other Dungeons & Dragons games. We were aiming for the hardcore gamers who can't get enough of the story twists and turns, and for whom nothing is better than a decent fireball!

Icewind Dale Screenshot

What Happened Next: a couple of additions and an excellent sequel, released in 2002. No drastic changes happened, and no one expected them.






Majesty: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim


  • Genre: RTS
  • Developer: Cyberlore Studios
  • Publisher: Infogrames

Sometimes all it takes is a change of perspective to get something unexpected and useful. Take fantasy RPGs, for example. The hero performs various tasks, does good, buys equipment, storms the castles of the dark forces. Change the point of view - and here we are no longer doing quests. We give them.

Majesty, if I may say so, is a role-playing game with a strategic overview. Here is the castle, our stronghold, which should never be lost. We build a city of special buildings around the citadel. A tax collector terrorizes the population, wizards penetrate the mysteries of existence... and loot, steal and kill (no poultry is spared), undermining the authority of the monarch. Breaking the ribs of skeletons is no royal business, and the tower guards can only frighten children with their weekly unshaven hair.

Majesty: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim Screenshot

The heroes come to the rescue - not for free, of course. Royalty, I mean the player, generously assigns rewards for completing assignments - whether it's a reconnaissance of the mysterious forest or hunting trolls. Brave but self-serving youths and maidens rush to the best of their abilities to rectify the situation. As in any role-playing game, they have parameters, inventory and abilities, the heroes grow in levels and acquire equipment. Only we are not able to control them, all decisions (loot the rat's lair, drink a potion, return to the guild and rest) are made personally by the heroes.

It's a rare occasion when you can feel like a real big boss. After all, even royalties paid to adventurers sooner or later go back into the treasury through shops, taverns, and markets. By the way, after Majesty is quite interesting to play an ordinary role-playing game. The joy of recognition is guaranteed.

Majesty: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim Screenshot

What Happened Next: a year later the add-on Northern Expansion appeared, and the series fell into a coma for a long time. Only relatively recently has Majesty found a second part, in fact - a remake of the original.






Shogun: Total War


  • Genre: TBS
  • Developer: Creative Assembly
  • Publisher: Electronic Arts

Risk is a noble thing. As we mentioned before, it is hard and dangerous to work at the intersection of genres, and the fruits of your labor may not be as sweet as you imagined in your dreams. In the case of Creative Assembly, the dangerous undertaking in the spirit of Ocean's Eleven didn't just burn out, but became contagious.

Shogun: Total War Screenshot

Shogun: Total War combines two parts. Lead a country, move armies, build cities, fuss with neighbors - it's a global turn-based strategy, aka "strategy mode" (a season serves as a step; four moves = one year), like Europa Universalis and Master of Orion. But as soon as the battle begins, the action is moved from the provincial map to a single location, where the battle takes place in real time. Here we give orders to units, conduct maneuvers and make mischief in the enemy camp - this is the "tactical mode". A fascinating combination of two completely different games in "one bottle" does not let get bored. Pore over the map - go ahead and carve up the enemy! Tired of noisy battles? Leave them to the AI: it will calculate the result and deliver the verdict.

Shogun: Total War Screenshot

The first part of Total War was devoted to the period of feudal fragmentation in medieval Japan. You control one of the seven clans that crossed katanas in the struggle for the title of Shogun. The coloring is spot on: even the unit of income is not abstract gold, but koku, a measure of rice that a person eats in a year. We have almost all the levers of government in our hands: economy, taxes, domestic and foreign policy, military affairs... All that remains is to become the Shogun.

What Happened Next: Next came the happy story of Total War series, which became the benchmark of quality among strategies, the trendsetter and the crown jewel of the industry. Medieval: TW, Rome: TW, Medieval 2: TW, Empire: TW, Napoleon: TW... And now - Shogun 2: Total War, the direct successor to the pioneer of the series. Has the circle come full circle?






The Sims


  • Genre: life simulator
  • Developer: Maxis
  • Publisher: Electronic Arts

"The Sims" is a unique phenomenon in the history of computer games, worthy of deep and comprehensive research. While some developers are looking for new horizons, trying to surprise the consumer, to create a plausible fictional reality, Will Wright proves that life is the most interesting game. Literally.

The Sims Screenshot

Everyone is probably familiar with the concept of The Sims. The player creates a virtual person or a whole family, builds her a house, oversees all aspects of life in this cell of society, and interacts with other "Sims. In short, leading the life of an average citizen. Before the release of the second part of the first "Sims" was the best-selling game in history, surpassing even Myst. And originally Will Wright only wanted to be an interior editor... And then he came up with the idea of a "dollhouse". His idea was appreciated not only and not so much by ordinary players, but by their mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters. Sometimes even grandmothers. The female sex was especially addictive to a thorough virtual simulation of life.

The frightening authenticity of what was happening on screen did its job: millions got hooked on the game. One-sixth of the population was not hooked, though: our way of life was too different from the depicted American one. But that didn't stop those who wanted to live another life from panicking once again. After all, the proverbial "peeing men" look too, too much like us.

The Sims Screenshot

What Happened Next: seven additions, an abundance of content (interior elements, clothing, and the like), national love. Moving to 3D in 2004, with the release of the sequel. Another parade of additions, many of which almost completely duplicated their predecessors. With the release of the last add-on, The Sims 2 expanded the available features so much that you could play it for years. The Sims were now aging, there was a continuity of generations. Finally, The Sims 4 (2014) added a full-fledged city, whole and unbreakable, as well as a pseudo-scientific character system. And again the additions, one after the other...