Return Fire (1995, Silent Software) is a great old top-view semi-3D (Mode7) game with lots of stuff blowing up. You choose from a jeep (with grenades!), a tank, an armored support vehicle (large tank with missiles), and a helicopter. There is also a two-player split-screen mode, which is missing from basically all popular PC games. Despite dated graphics and unintelligent enemies, I can’t recommend this game highly enough. Even shooting palm trees is just about as fun as anything, the sound effects are spot-on, and the classical music pieces for each vehicle are just right.

Here is a YouTube video of the unreleased Sega Saturn version (skip to 0:48 for gameplay):

Return Fire 2, A Little-Known Sequel

Return Fire 2 Screenshot

Return Fire 2 is a great 3D action game, but requires what was considered a fast computer at the time of release–graphics card with OpenGL acceleration (nVidia, Matrox G200, STB, Voodoo, etc.) or a Pentium II or K6-2. It retains the premise of capture the flag, but adds gunboats, aircraft carriers, and a more flexible 3D camera. Unfortunately, the game was promoted so poorly that at any given time I only saw one other person on the multiplayer lobby (the game was capable of 16 players). Also, the game had several graphical glitches which ruined the beautiful scenery at certain angles, and buggered-up the infamous death screen with the 3D laughing skull (which also had less charm in low-poly graphics). Despite these flaws and the lack of any plot (therefore no motivation to beat it), I played the game for many hours. It was so incredibly well-done in the aspect of design and 3D cinematography that I would go back and play it just to let off steam–I just can’t get enough of lobbing grenades at gun towers…and of course, hearing the satisfying crunch of shooting down obstacles.