Some time ago my friend and I were discussing gaming in general, and the topic of conversation got steered to RTS gaming. In a nutshell, we were sick and tired of playing tank-rush over and over and over again. Really that's what all strategy games boil down to, see how many units you can build quicker than your opponent, send them all at him and smash his base. Granted, there are a few permutations you can put on that with the direction you attack from, simultaneous attacks with allies, etc. But the point was that both of us considered RTS gaming to be rather 'shallow' beyond a certain point, which we had reached.
So it's really quite ironic (hmm, not quite the word I wanted but it'll suffice) that about a week or two after I had this conversation with my friend I find out about Natural Selection while I was reading penny-arcade.com's latest foray into journalism. Basically, it seems like NS is exactly what my friend and I were looking for. It brings to RTS gaming that 'next level' that we have been so desperately searching for. Now a commander is actually a commander, not some sort of supreme overlord commanding an army of mindless drones. Not only do your units not have to follow your orders (although they would want to if they recognize a good commander, it seems 'respect' actually comes into play here too), they are able to follow them in the way they choose.
It's not going to be a situation where some little crappy super-manuverable tank gets the crap kicked out of it because it doesn't move and fire at the same time. Even if a person is outgunned, tactics and individual skill come into play and can still make for at the very least a good fight before the undergunned person dies. And the ALIENS! WOW! Just when you think the aliens vs. marines premise has been overdone, something like this comes out. The 'hive mind' system is absolutely amazing. Not so much innovative I would say (there's already plenty of telepathic type species out there in sci-fi) as it is bloody brilliant implementation. The whole concept of being able to launch a team attack without ever talking on voice comm or something, and reacting to attacks on your teammates without them even having to call for help is genius.
In short, if NS lives up to my expectations and if the "Tales From the Front Lines" thread's stories are true, Counter-Strike will be getting a LOT less play time on this machine. It sounds, honest-to-god, like the best game concept I've ever heard of to date. Extremely ingenious as far as ideas and new innovations go, and brilliant implementation, coding, etc.
Way to go, NS team.
I think, therefore I'm a yam.