Heroes of Annihilated Empires
Loved by: PC Gamer Editor in Chief Greg Vederman
PC Gamer's freelancer hasn't yet submitted his Heroes of Annihilated Empires review, so we can't speak to PC Gamer's score, but a quick glimpse around the web reveals that the average rating (from "the biggies") is currently hovering in the 60s, and for good reason.
For starters, HoAE ships with the much reviled StarForce copy protection scheme - malware with a long history of mucking up gamers' PCs. Then there's the game's lack-luster 2D/3D visuals and the fact that damn near every unit has been culled from J.R.R. Tolkien's masterworks. Success in the RTS portion of HoAE has everything to do with throwing tons of not-very-bright units at your opponent and little to do with tactics, and level four of the single-player campaign is so gall-darn difficult that it may as well be a show-stopping crash-to-desktop bug.
Even the title is questionable; other than your mother, who will love you no matter what you do, who in their right mind would still consider you their hero after you just let your frickin' empire get annihilated?
Above: Dying at the start of HoAE's fourth mission, "Evergreen Grove," for the 32nd time in a row. And yet, inexplicably, there will be a 33rd time...
There's something about this game. The voice acting is some of the best around, and the look and feel of the world - though derivative - is strangely compelling. Sure, much of HoAE's graphics leave a lot to be desired, but its hand-drawn art (as well as the game's overall art direction) is quite impressive. Moreover, the game's ability to let you wage war on an epic scale, with hundreds of units on-screen at once, is rivaled only by Gas Powered Games' soon-to-be-released Supreme Commander.
"I've wanted to break its game disc many times, yet I keep going back to drink from HoAE's magic well. Though the sum of its parts should add up to 'Greg, get your head out of your butt and go back to playing Company of Heroes,' it doesn't. I'm quite enjoying this fractured little game, in spite of its myriad flaws. And I will figure out to beat level four if it's the last thing I ever do!" - Greg