The war genre has always been one of the most profitable genres in the entertainment industry, from books, toys, movies, and of course, video games.
Following the success of these stories in Hollywood, video game publishers saw a gold mine in war. Despite its negative and destructive undertones, it works very well in video games, because that’s what they are there for, to entertain and at least get something good out of those turbulent times.
The original Sony Playstation (the PS1) was one of the first gaming consoles on which several military / war video games were published. Although there were already war classics in previous consoles, thanks to the 3D technology of the new generation of the mid-90s, military games evolved completely, greatly improving their graphics, story, gameplay, and of course, combat.
So take your weapon soldier, because we’re going to the front to see the
10 Best Military/War Games On The PlayStation 1
Space Hulk: Vengeance of the Blood Angels (1995)
Set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, and based on Games Workshop’s Space Hulk board game, this title puts us in the shoes of a Space Marine, genetically modified warriors sheathed in robotic armor, with the task of protecting the Earth from all interstellar threats.
Among these threats are the Genestealers, a deadly alien race that invades planets to multiply themselves because they cannot reproduce themselves, hence the origin of their name.
The Genestealers crossed with humans thanks to the Space Hulks, a set of ships of human origin that have been lost in space, being taken advantage of by this invading race. When a Space Hulk approaches a human colony, it is the job of the Space Marines to wipe them out, in other words, your job.
In campaign mode, you control a Terminator, a soldier belonging to the Space Marines, who must follow the orders of a sergeant. But as you advance in the story you will go up in rank until you lead your own squad of Terminators, who are launched into dangerous missions that combine real-time tactics with the first-person shooter. A combination that did not end up working so well, damaging the general idea of the game, but it is still enjoyable.
Unholy War (1998)
Published by Eidos Interactive, this unusual title is set on the planet Xsarra, where two tribes are at war. The Arcanes, primitives born on Xsarra, and the Teknos, a technological tribe. At first, these two species lived together in peace, until the taboo is broken by two members of these tribes who maintain “forbidden” relationships.
From their union were born a pair of twins, Vail and Jaron, who become great enemies and lead their tribes to a destructive war with no possible truce.
This game combines two genres, fighting and strategy, each with their respective modes that are combined in the gameplay. In Mayhem mode you fight hand-to-hand with an opponent, while in Strategy mode you command your troops through a war zone with hexagonal squares.
Every time you encounter an enemy in a square, the combat mode starts. The ultimate goal is to destroy the opponent’s base or wipe out all their troops, something you achieve by collecting AUR on the map, a resource with which you can buy units or abilities.
With a variety of fantastic characters and fearsome monsters, Unholy War satisfies both strategy and direct action fans.
Krazy Ivan (1996)
We can’t talk about Playstation 1 war games if there are no mechs in the conversation, and they are Soviet mechs!
Published by Psygnosis, Krazy Ivan puts us in the shoes of a Russian soldier named Ivan (what a surprise), who in his giant mech defends the planet from invading robots from other galaxies.
As a narrative element, it uses FMV videos in the intro of the game and between each level, to deepen its story. Although to be honest, the story is the least of this title, it’s just an excuse to have a giant robot fight on the PS2, something that never gets old.
Throughout the game, you fight in France, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the USA, and Japan, which although they are somewhat empty scenarios, the enemy robots make up for it with the luxury of details in their modeling and animations, accompanied by an immersive sound design.
In short, a first-person shooter that brings nothing new to the genre, but uses an effective formula that will give you hours of fun crushing tin soldiers from space.
Soviet Strike (1996)
What’s more warlike than a helicopter game? Soviet Strike, created by EA, is the fourth installment in this series that was born on the Sega Genesis, and the first to make the jump to the 32-bit.
Taking inspiration from the events of the early 90s, the plot is set after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. We take control of an Apache combat helicopter pilot, part of the STRIKE group, an American operations force created to stop wars before they happen. This motto leads us to confront the army of Shadowman, an ex-politician who is not very happy with the new Russian government.
Throughout 41 action-packed missions divided into 5 long levels, we face enemies from the skies, but don’t get excited, because the ammunition must be managed carefully.
The story goes through different regions, from Crimea to the Kremlin, with detailed 3D graphics and a complex AI that adapts to your movements to complicate the gameplay.
Soviet Strike is one of those gems that builds something challenging for the player from a simple premise, providing a realistic war experience.
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear (1999)
It can’t be a list of war games without a submission from writer Tom Clancy’s war franchise. Developed and published by Red Storm Entertainment, Rogue Spear was initially released for Windows, but soon after it was ported to PS1.
The story is set in 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In this turbulent context, the Rainbow anti-terrorist squad is sent to Russia to stop a mafia and arms dealers who want to unleash a nuclear disaster.
Like most games in this franchise, its fundamentals are teamwork, coordination, realism, and proper execution of the plan.
As a tactical first-person shooter, the game is quite good, with graphics superior to previous titles, a vast arsenal of weapons, and of course, new characters for the Rainbow team.
Although its difficulty is somewhat unbalanced due to the gigantic maps and a large number of enemy hideouts, Rogue Spear is a good Rainbow Six, with all the essence and warmongering that this entails. It’s also worth noting that it had a multiplayer mode, in which one team must protect a VIP in a hideout, while the other must break into it. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Nuclear Strike (1996)
It is worth noting that you will see many sequels in this list, and rightly so because they dominated this genre.
The Strike saga continued with this fifth installment, developed by the same team as Soviet Strike. Again, we take the role of a pilot of the STRIKE squadron, but we not only have the mythical APACHE, but we can also use airplanes, tanks, and other military vehicles, making a total of 15.
In this title set in the Asian continent, we have the task of taking down Colonel Beauford LeMonde, a warlord who stole a nuclear weapon and threatens to start World War III. Each mission has a secondary narrative line that we must overcome to continue in the main one.
Both in gameplay and the audiovisuals, Nuclear Strike improves a lot compared to its predecessors, with fun and challenging levels that test your strategic skills and your war capacity with each vehicle.
Command & Conquer (1995)
When we talk about pioneers of the war genre, we are talking about Command & Conquer. Developed by Westwood Studios and distributed by Virgin Interactive Entertainment, this war title started this epic series, referenced by gamers as the one responsible for popularizing real-time strategy.
Set in an alternate 1995, the story makes us choose sides in the confrontation between the Global Defense Initiative (GDI) and the Brotherhood of Nod, a military army that pays cult to Kane, its enigmatic commander.
Inspired by the real confrontations of that decade, Command & Conquer throws us into a modern battlefield, in which we build our base, collect resources and improve our troops.
The most precious asset for the evolution of your base is the Tiberium, the main reason why the two factions fight. Depending on which one you choose, your strategy changes, as the GDI focuses more on armament superiority at the expense of production and speed, while the Brotherhood of Nod bets on numerical superiority and greater speed, employing more clandestine tactics, leaving a little aside the durability.
And the rest you already know, resource management, building structures, advancing through the map discovering enemy bases until the main one is destroyed, and other mechanics that laid the foundations of the next real-time strategy games.
Besides, how can we forget those live-action scenes starring Joseph D. Kucan? They are part of gaming history.
Command & Conquer Retaliation (1998)
Once again, the famous Westwood Studios saga appears in this list of best war games, with an exclusive title for the PS1.
In short, Retaliation is the enhanced version of Command & Conquer: Red Alert, a game released for PC. This definitive edition not only contains the two Red Alert expansions but also includes a few FMV videos that give you more details about the plot.
The trigger of the story is caused by Albert Einstein himself, who in 1946 invented the Chronosphere, a time machine, with which he travels to 1924 Germany to kill Hitler, erasing the fateful Second World War from the timeline.
But this only ended up postponing the conflict, thanks to the absence of Nazis, Stalin’s Soviet forces took over most of Europe, fighting against the Allies in an even deadlier war, in which it is up to you which side you will choose.
Retaliation was one of the first games to feature a purer real-time strategy system on consoles, adapting the PC experience beautifully with an easy-to-use interface and a few shortcuts on the controller. Otherwise, it is a classic Command & Conquer, with high-difficulty battles on different maps and various game modes that extend its replayability.
Medal of Honor (1999)
One of the giants of war games, which today is sleeping, but in its time was a pioneer of the genre. DreamWorks Interactive as the developer and EA as Publisher gave us this jewel of the first-person shooter genre.
In its creation, the legendary Steven Spielberg, co-founder of DreamWorks, was involved. Seeing the narrative potential that video games had, he used his knowledge of World War II to create the basis of the story of Medal of Honor.
Set in the final phase of this great historical conflict, we meet the protagonist of this story: Jimmy, an American soldier fighting against the forces of the Third Reich.
The game is divided into 7 missions composed in turn of several levels, and at the beginning of each one, we see a live-action video of the real events of the battle in which we are about to participate.
The variety of scenarios is gigantic, with different situations, from night infiltrations in forests to fierce battles in German villages. The variety of weapons is also quite good, being able to carry a full arsenal in your pockets.
As for the gameplay, it is the perfect balance between realism and fun, because you need good aim to kill the enemies, but it does not get frustrating at any time. And as icing on the cake, it has a split-screen multiplayer mode in which you can face a friend in death matches.
With a great soundtrack composed by Michael Giacchino and graphics that only a few games of the time surpassed, Medal of Honor is one of the best shooters in history, from which was born a whole franchise of war games, which ended up falling to Call of Duty and Battlefield, but that will always have a special place in the hearts of gamers.
Medal of Honor: Underground (2000)
The only one that can beat Medal of Honor as the best war game is Medal of Honor itself.
Barely a year after the first game came this incredible sequel from the same creators, whose plot is set before the story of the first MoF, introducing us to Manon Baptiste, a woman part of the French Resistance, carrying out different missions that lead her to travel through Europe and North Africa to end the Nazi Occupation, an objective she shares with some allies she encounters on the journey.
As a good sequel, it improves on everything the first one did well, featuring 25 larger levels full of enemies with a more advanced AI, that as soon as they see or hear you, they look for you. It’s a mechanic that is used in countless games today, but for the time it was quite impressive. The new mechanics include the Disguise mode, which allows you to infiltrate enemy troops and take photos of military secrets
The arsenal of weapons increases compared to the previous title, highlighting the tanks as new enemies.
Again, the graphics and sound are wonderful, creating an atmosphere that makes you feel that you are really there, fighting against Nazis and saving Europe. For this and much more, just by improving on what it did well in its predecessor, Medal of Honor: Underground is the best war game on Sony’s PlayStation 1.