We love the RTS genre. We love the maps, the sound effects, the strategies, the buildings, the units, and if you’ve been following GamesRadar for a while, you know that we also love remembering things
. What better time than now, just after the release of StarCraft II, to remember our favorite RTS units?
Alright, so this may not be an objective list of the best RTS units ever, but that’s a “who would win in a fight, Superman or Will Smith if Will Smith’s ability to make cheesy movie tie-in songs translated to physical strength,” kind of argument. These are, however, some of the personal favorites of our editors. Let’s reminisce!
Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness
Loved by: Brett Elston
When your faction choice is between bland ol’ humans or bloodthirsty creatures of the night, you’d better believe I'm siding with the latter. Instead of pale skinned, faux British imperialists, I want bone-cracking dragons or, in this case, a rotting corpse animated with black magic. From the moment you hear them yell “I’m aliiiiiive” to their first blast of Death and Decay against a wave of invading humans, the Death Knights project fear and panic into all who oppose you.
The aforementioned Death and Decay was a brutal attack, inflicting reasonable area damage to any units in the vicinity. Even better is Haste, which made a target unit move and act more quickly, and then Raise Dead turned corpses into puny (but numerous) skeletons under your control. Like most other units, Death Knights dish out the damage, but do it in a fittingly grotesque way, making them my favorite thing to cast in Warcraft II.
Above: Not the WCII unit, obviously - this is a Dwarven Death Knight from World of Warcraft
Command & Conquer: Red Alert
Loved by: Tyler Wilde
I’ve always liked taking war to the air – sometimes to my detriment. My tactic was almost always strategically unsound. Aircraft are expensive and finicky, and if ground units reach the airfields and helipads, it’s all over, so putting all of your resources into air is usually a horrible mistake. But I didn’t care. The idea of amassing armies of planes and helicopters was just too appealing.
I blocked out the sun with my Yaks. They weren’t fast. They didn’t do much to armored vehicles or buildings. But dammit, I loved the little buggers.
Above: Go get 'em, little guys!
The only thing I didn’t like about Yaks? They couldn’t fight each other in the air. I desperately wanted dog fights, so I spent hours attempting to mod the feature in using Red Alert’s well-known configuration file, rules.ini. I think I got it to work at one point… kind of. I also made attack dogs that barked rockets. Red Alert was awesome.
Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun
Devil's Tongue Flame Tank
Loved by: Tyler Wilde
This is exactly what I always wanted from a tank. No really. I spent a lot of time in elementary school drawing tanks, and my favorite fantasy was of a tank which could burrow underground and emerge in the enemy’s base. And to sweeten things more, this tank shoots flames!
Not everyone liked the funky-looking NOD vehicle, but I was instantly a fan. The Devil's Tongue may not have won me any matches, but it could really piss people off. And sometimes aggravating the hell out of your friend is more important than winning.
Above: A wild pack of Devil's Tongues in the Tiberian Sun: Rising mod
Civilization I - IV
Loved by: Tyler Wilde
Before anyone runs to the comments to tell me that Civilization is not an RTS, I know. But turn-based or not, Civilization should be represented in this list, and I'm not about to change the article's headline just to avoid confronting this technicality. No, no... it's much easier to write a paragraph explaining myself. Dammit. Oh right, the Ironclad.
The Ironclad is awesome. Sure it doesn't look like much, but it's a solid sea force and it only has one purpose: destroy everything. That's the kind of industrialist thinking I like! The Industrial Age, by the way, is my favorite age (aside from 19, that was a good year). I just love all that coal and steam, even though it was co-opted by the steampunk fad (let's put knobs and pipes and brass thingamajigs on everything!).
To better understand why I love this seemingly bland unit, check out what a real, American Civil War ironclad looked like:
Above: A badass industrial design orgasm