Spybotics: The nightfall incident

online game with Gamelab, published 2002 by LEGO.com

A cyberspace tactical thriller, SPYBOTICS: The Nightfall Incident lets players purchase hacking programs and then deploy them against defensive ICE. All within a complex storyline full of surprise and betrayal.

Yes, this is a LEGO game. But it is a surprisingly deep experience. The core gameplay contains many distinctive elements, such as the fact that a program's size is also its health - a big healthy program takes up space and can block your more fragile (and more mobile) units. Your programs combo in unexpected ways and there are many approaches for success in each level.

When you add in a haunting soundtrack by Michael Sweet and sophisticated art direction from Junko Otsuki, Spybotics may just be my favorite Gamelab game.