Remember the good old days when war games were all about strategy, pixelated graphics, and pure, unadulterated fun?

Whether you were commanding armies or sneaking through enemy lines, these games were the pinnacle of our childhood gaming adventures.

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and revisit the ten best old-school war games that you should definitely dust off and play again:

GameReleaseGenreDeveloperTrailer
Panzer General 1995-12-31 Strategy Strategic Simulations
Blitzkrieg Anthology 2003-03-28 Strategy Nival
Sudden Strike Trilogy 2001-01-24 Strategy Fireglow Games
Close Combat 2: A Bridge Too Far 1997-01-01 Strategy Atomic Games
Command & Conquer Remastered Collection 2020-06-05 RTS Petroglyph Games Inc
Total Annihilation: Commander Pack 1997-09-30 Strategy Cavedog Entertainment
Call of Duty 2 2005-10-25 Action & Shooter Infinity Ward
Steel Panthers 1995-12-31 Strategy SSI
Cannon Fodder 1993-03-24 Arcade & Platform Sensible Software
Axis & Allies 1942 Online 2019-07-31 Strategy Beamdog

Panzer General

Release date:1995-12-31
Genre:Strategy
Developer:Strategic Simulations

Ah, Panzer General. A masterpiece of a turn-based strategy.

You’re put in charge of the German army during World War II, and every decision you make can change the course of history.

Panzer General
Image credit: Strategic Simulations

What made this game legendary is its depth. You have to think about everything, from logistics to the weather. You can command a wide variety of units  – tanks, infantry, artillery, aircraft – each with its own strengths and weaknesses. All in all, the satisfaction of outsmarting your opponent and watching your strategy unfold is unmatched, and Panzer General is an example of games which are easy to pick up and very addictive.

Blitzkrieg

Release date:2003-03-28
Genre:Strategy
Developer:Nival

Blitzkrieg used to be the go-to game for real-time strategy enthusiasts.

The attention to detail in this game is insane. You have historical accuracy down to the unit types and battlefields. It’s like a history lesson, but with explosions.

The best things about this game? You have to manage your resources smartly and choose your battles wisely. The terrain plays a significant role and you have to use it to your advantage. Plus, the multiplayer mode is a blast. Teaming up with friends to outflank your enemies is pure, adrenaline-pumping fun.

Sudden Strike

Release date:2001-01-24
Genre:Strategy
Developer:Fireglow Games

Sudden Strike brought a new level of realism to the RTS genre. It’s all about strategy and tactics.

No base building involved, which was a refreshing change of pace at the time. You have to make do with the units you had, so every decision you make matters a great deal.

The game’s best feature are huge, complex maps and the need for strategic planning. You have to think about ambushes, supply lines, and reinforcements. Every battle is intense, so if you’re looking for a gripping wargame of the old, Sudden Strike is one of your best bets.

Close Combat 2: A Bridge Too Far

Release date:1997-01-01
Genre:Strategy
Developer:Atomic Games

Now, this one’s a major gem. Close Combat 2: A Bridge Too Far is a real-time tactical game that puts you right in the middle of Operation Market Garden. It isn’t just about winning. It’s about surviving.

Close Combat 2: A Bridge Too Far
Image credit: Atomic Games

The game’s really good when it comes to realism. Your troops have morale and fatigue levels, which affect their performance. And the AI is no joke, either – it can flank you, ambush you, and force you to adapt on the fly. Detailed maps and intense firefights make this game quite a nail-biter.

Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2

Release date:2000-10-27
Genre:Strategy
Developer:Westwood Pacific

Red Alert 2. Where do we even start? This game was a massive hit.

You have an alternate history storyline where the Allies and Soviets duke it out, and it’s glorious. The mix of strategy, action, and campy cutscenes is just *chef’s kiss*.

Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2
Image credit: Westwood Pacific

The best thing about Red Alert 2 is the unit variety. You can send in Tesla tanks, Chrono Commandos, and attack dolphins. And multiplayer? Pure mayhem. Setting up LAN parties and trash-talking your friends while launching a surprise nuke is surely something which will bring back tons of awesome memories.

Total Annihilation

Release date:1997-09-30
Genre:Strategy
Developer:Cavedog Entertainment

If you want a game with massive battles, Total Annihilation was your jam.

The sheer scale of battles was mind-blowing at the time. And it’s the first 3D RTS to be ever released!

Aside from excellent combat, the game’s standout feature is its resource management system. You don’t collect any resources using workers and there are no limits here. Instead, you have to generate more resources than you spend on units and buildings. It’s simple, it’s elegant, it’s super effective and does make TA stand out from the crowd of its competitors. And the modding community? It keeps the game alive with new units, maps, and features to this day. It is indeed a timeless classic.

Call of Duty 2

Release date:2005-10-25
Genre:Action & Shooter
Developer:Infinity Ward

And now for a change of pace, a WWII-themed shooter which blew Medal of Honor out of the water and shaped the future of the first-person shooter genre.

While Allied Assault isn’t without its merits, it’s Call of Duty which is regarded as one of the greatest games ever released and the better title in general.

Three distinct campaigns. Pioneering the iron sights feature. Really good multiplayer. All these made Call of Duty the smash hit it was. Extremely cinematic in nature, CoD steered clear from the “lone wolf” trope, forcing you to work with AI-controlled allies to complete the objectives ahead of you.

Missions based on events such as Utah landings or the Battle of Stalingrad are full of nerve-wracking, tense moments, a testament to the game’s excellent design. Yeah, it’s an oldie, but it’s a fine one. If you love old shooters, this one is something you need to check out, if you haven’t already.

Steel Panthers

Release date:1995-12-31
Genre:Strategy
Developer:SSI

Steel Panthers is pretty much the granddaddy of tactical war games. It has everything – tanks, infantry, artillery, and more.

The turn-based gameplay is deep and rewarding, making you feel like you’re actually a commander on a battlefield.

Steel Panthers
Image credit: SSI

The game’s best feature is its attention to detail. You have to consider factors like terrain, weather, and unit experience. Each battle feels unique, and the replay value is through the roof. Plus, the game’s scenarios cover a wide range of historical events, which is certainly a plus for World War II aficionados.

Cannon Fodder

Release date:2000-04-12
Genre:Arcade & Platform
Developer:Sensible Software

War has never been so much fun! Cannon Fodder certainly lives up to its tagline.

This quirky mix of strategy, arcade action, and a dark sense of humor is surely a standout.

The game’s charm lies in its simplicity and humor. You control a squad of soldiers, leading them through various missions while trying to keep them alive. Cannon Fodder’s cartoonish graphics and catchy soundtrack make it a blast to play, even when your troops meet a grisly end.

Axis & Allies

Release date:1998-06-10
Genre:Strategy
Developer:Meyer / Glass Interactive

Last but not least, Axis & Allies. This game brought the classic board game to life, letting you control the major powers of World War II.

It’s pretty deep strategically, but also quite easy to pick up, making it something not just for strategy enthusiasts.

Axis & Allies
Image credit: Meyer / Glass Interactive

You have to manage resources (Industrial Production Certificates), conduct research, buy units, and plan your attacks carefully. The balance between different types of units and the importance of alliances adds layers of strategy. And the thrill of turning the tide of war in your favor is a fantastic experience.

So, there you have it – ten old-school war games that defined an era. Dust off those old discs or find a way to play them online, and relive the glory days of strategic (or shooter in the case of Call of Duty) warfare. It’s worth it.