It’s a testament to how great a year it was for PC strategy games that we felt compelled to separate the real-time games into their own group. What that left was a group of excellent strategy games that couldn’t be more different from one another. That’s not a bad thing (just think of the diversity of Academy Award Best Picture nominees every year), but it does make judging and comparing them against one another a huge chore.
During those very crucial fall months, we were enamored with Stardock’s The Political Machine, which let us run the 2004 presidential campaign in a way that was far more fun than its real-life counterpart. RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 overcame the series’ sophomore slump with a great state-of-the-art redesign. And Nival Interactive’s Silent Storm almost walked away with the award because it exhibited an addictive combination of turn-based strategy and roleplaying that hasn’t been so well executed since Jagged Alliance.
But it was the 800-pound gorilla that is The Sims 2 that did, indeed, stomp the competition. Better than the original in every way, The Sims 2 is a deep and complicated strategy game that is such a hoot to play, it may not even cross your mind how profound your decision making is. More than any other PC game, The Sims 2 is a Rorschach test of our imaginations and desires and goals. Plus, they fixed it so we didn’t have to go to the bathroom as often this time—that’s the stuff that awards are made of.