By Kieron Gillen on December 19th, 2007 at 11:59 pm.
So, you collapse in, drunk. It’s Christmas. That’s how it works. It’s you and the screen, trying to make some sense of your relationship. You know you should just crawl into bed, but you know that sitting in front of that monitor just makes more sense. You sip your drink and realise – hey – you haven’t opened the RPS-approved fairtrade advent calendar so you turn to it and pull away the recycled cardboard to reveal…
Chocolate, but you’re too DUNK! to think of actually eating it, or eating anything better. So you just turn to the game and start clicking. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?
What you’re clicking at is Armageddon Empires.
You turn up Frightened Rabbit to cover the fact that the Director sound programming of Armageddon Empires refuses to turn down to zero, just because you need to hear something deeply melodramatic. And you know that a world wider than the one you’re now writing for is reading what you hammered out earlier but… it is crucial, and this is what you write about PC games for.
Armageddon Empires is a game that’s haunted your thoughts for the better half of a year. Bill Harris was the guy who mentioned it first, as is Bill Harris’ wont. And, because of that, you knew it was worth looking at closer. The last game he went as crazy over was
Star Space Rangers 2, which was the definitive late 2006 games-fan’s-game. That he felt enough about Armageddon Empires to describe it as his Game Of The Year was enough to say that, by at least some justifiable definition, it was game of the year. But you briefly tried it and swiftly lost it because the year is busy and your mind is small and there are things to do. In this year, above all years, there are things to do.
But then there’s a gap, and a mail from the game’s developer drops the whole thing in your lap. And, within a few hours, you drop a mail to your most friendly reviewing port of call, just to see if they’ll accept a few thousand words of gibberish. Because, even though you’re aware that you may decide it’s not worth a more general recommendation, you know it’s worth – from these scant hours – some manner of specific recommendation. If only to the people on the scene, if only to the people who’ll be on the dancefloor, no matter what.
And you suspect it’s worth more than that. And, it proves, you’re right. Or, at least, it proves the people you listen to are right. Which is the same thing.
You think of sentences to write like: As Civ4 was to 2005, Armageddon Empires is to 2007.
And then you feel bad about even considering hammering that out, because one was an enormous team effort which anyone and their Gran could play, and the other is a one-man Indie game which would require most of your Gran’s remaining life to work out how to play at all. But you know that for those who understand that supple language of strategy (which speaks in Hexes and Resources) well, Armageddon Empires is the only girl on the dancefloor they’ll want to speak to. In these twelve long months, there’s simply no competition. It’s not as beautiful a game as Civ4, but it’s got its own sense of style, and this counts. It really does.
So, you turn towards the dancefloor, offer your hand towards the girl who moves in hex-shapes and deck-patterns and you move into the night. And no-one sees you again.
It’s your favourite turn-based strategy game of the year. You’d recommend it to anyone who’d consider a recommendation for such a thing. And for those who don’t, you smile softy and offer pity.
You know if they had it in them, it’d make them feel like it makes you feel.