25: AI War: Fleet Command (2009)
Developer: Arcen Games
Publisher: Arcen Games
Despite prolific and varied activity Arcen haven’t managed to surpass their debut release yet. To be fair to them, when the bar is set as high as AI War: Fleet Command, that’s not entirely surprising. Like many of the finest games within a genre, AI War changes the underlying machinery while leaving enough surface familiarity for comfort. The recognisable bodywork is also a disguise in this instance.
The moment everything clicks is the moment you realise that all of your glorious expansion has only served to piss the AI off. And, let’s be clear, it is an AI that you’re pissing off. An in-game AI, a ruthless and seemingly unstoppable machine intelligence that waits for you to make a move and then counters it, swatting your empire to one side. It’s an inversion of a 4X game’s normal flow, encouraging expansion and then punishing it by feeling out the cracks in every new frontier.
Notes: As might be expected, the AI in AI War is important and complex. Using Fuzzy Logic and what the developers describe as “Decentralized Intelligence”, it’s quite unlike anything else in strategy gaming.
Where can I buy it: Steam
What else should I be playing: Arcen’s releases aren’t always as strong as AI War, but they’re always interesting. Bionic Dues and Skyward Collapse both offer intriguing takes on turn-based tactics and strategy, one in the form of a mech-based roguelike and the other as isometric God game.
Read more: Quinns needs iron – an AI War diary