Is there such a Blizzard title that fails to sell gabillions of copies through pre-orders alone? Or one that doesn't bring the internet to its knees for the first week of its release, as battle.net gets flooded with a horde of new gamers?
In a word: nope. WarCraft 3, like Diablo II and WarCraft 2 and Diablo, is a must-have game for any self-respecting gamer. Admittedly, after a few months of playing the game I came to the conclusion that I scored it too high. The multiplayer was polished but not as fun as StarCraft. And as we all know, the singleplayer campaign is as much fun as being the grade school kid in a wheelchair who stumbles into the middle of a high school dodgeball match. Briefly, thoughts of leaving WC3 off the list before I remembered that Iíd played it day-in, day-out for months online. How many games can claim to have that kind of an effect on anybody?
Of course, WarCraft 3 isnít necessarily the perfect gift. After all, most people already have it.
Age of Mythology is Ensembleís best game yet. Since itís not as popular as WarCraft, youíre more likely to fill someoneís need by dropping this bundle of joy under the Christmas tree. Ensemble Studios addressed some major complaints with Age of Kings by releasing this, specifically adding more variety to the civilizations. The Norse are as distinct from the Egyptians as they are from the Greeks. With three major gods per civilization to fine-tune your experience, Age of Mythology offers perhaps the first balanced racial customization on the market. The new Ensemble Online matchmaking service is as easy to use as battle.net and offers more and more easily accessible statistics.
The biggest, though least-noticed improvement over Age of Kings are the graphics. This is the first time weíve ever seen 3D that looks so detailed and smooth, it could be mistaken for 2D. At the moment the most legitimate challenger to Blizzardís RTS crown is Ensemble and this is their premier title. Although it lacks that spectacular feeling that we award an editorís choice for, it is the most solid title on this list.