Over the years, conventional RTS games have gotten prettier and prettier, until today you can have hundreds of screaming Romans running across the screen in a scene that looks like something out of Cecil B. DeMille.
Kind of amazing, really--expect that, with rare exceptions, not much has changed in terms of the actual gameplay. It's still build, turtle, rush.
What if, instead of concentrating on improving the graphics, you took the "S" in "RTS" seriously, stripped away the resource extraction and tech tree, and looked for ways to create diverse strategic challenges with each level and thoughtful use of combined arms?
You'd have something like I of the Enemy. There are no resources to be extracted, and no real building construction--you have really only one building, a starport that provides supplies and from which reinforcements can be ordered. But no tech tree, and no "turtling." Instead, you need to get out there, navigate the map, locate the enemy, and fulfill your mission objectives.
Combined arms is a strength of this game; the units vary widely in capabilities, and you need to consider what type of unit, or what combination, are needed to meet your goals. On the whole, despite the science fictional backdrop, it feels a great deal more like actual combat than the stereotyped and rather illogical gameplay of conventional RTS games.
...And a Strong Story
I of the Enemy has 30 levels, and as usual, there's a story connecting them. You control the Lokob, one of three allied alien races in a no-holds-barred war with the vile Unath. Units that survive a battle gain experience, and can be brought into future battles (and indeed having a tough, experienced force is vital in the later stages of the game). The voice acting and writing are both surprisingly good for an indie title, and there are some plot twists that will surprise you.
The "Demo" is a Free, Complete Game
The link here is to "I of the Enemy: Ril'Cerat", which is a complete, stand-alone game. It also serves as an "intro" to a commercial game (for which they charge a modest $9.95), with a link to allow you to purchase that--but this isn't a time- or level-limited demo, but a complete (if fairly short) game in its own right. Maybe this is how more people should do things....