Where to begin?

User Rating: 10 | Myth: The Fallen Lords PC
The first in a truly unique and innovative series of games created by a pre-Microsoft Bungie, Myth: The Fallen Lords boasts more than impressive visuals (for 1997), story, gameplay, sound, music, and voice acting.

The game spells a timeless tale of good versus evil; mankind is on the brink of extinction and must battle the hordes of dark undead lords and minions. The story unfolds through a narrator writing journal entries about his experiences through the war in what is probably one of the finest pieces of voice acting in a game to date. The game takes you on the truly epic journey of humanity and its allies in their struggle to defeat the forces of evil.

Complementing the fine narrative is the gameplay. Unlike traditional strategy games you're given only a handful of units to work with for each level and you rarely receive reinforcements - you have to work with what you get which adds to the difficulty of already complex missions. Units become more powerful as they gain experience from slaying foes and transfer from level to level, which is important because as you reach the later stages of the game you are more often than not given insufficient men to complete the tasks at hand, relying on your most experienced units to get you through the day. One of the more interesting side effects of this system is that you'll often find yourself struggling to keep as many people alive as possible so you aren't stuck with weaker replacements later on. Formations and directional unit facing also play a key part in the gameplay and add another level of depth to the genre.

The game boasts 2D unit sprites in complex (for 1997) 3D scarrable terrain featuring full physics and weather. Explosions can knock away arrows in mid flight, rain will put out dwarven molotov cocktails and fires, and as a whole the gameplay is brutal and bloody, with men and monsters hacking each other to pieces in violent battles. Trails of blood and gore follow your skirmishes, really adding to the immersion the game provides. The lack of music during the missions may seem an odd choice at first, but it allows the game to focus on the excellent sound effects and really adds to the desperate atmosphere. The camera controls take some getting used to at first - especially compared to other strategy games - but after some time and experimenting you'll find that they really work quite well.

Overall this has to be one of my favorite strategy games, topped only by the sequel Myth II: Soulblighter (and the immortal Starcraft and its expansion). Currently it's possible to play the entire Myth: The Fallen Lords as a gameplay mod for Soulblighter, which is supported by Windows XP and Vista with the latest community patch. If strategy games are for you definitely give this a look, you won't regret it.