How long has it been? Surely one of the most eagerly awaited (and most delayed) sequels in recent times, Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun has finally made it to release. It was originally due in 1997, but was held up after Electronic Artsbought Westwood, the game's developers, from Virgin last summer. Follow-up to the popular Command and Conquer: Red Alert, the new game brings the concept forward a decade or seven, to a post-apocalyptic-style future world. Tiberium, a strange and mysterious mineral which sprouts from the ground, has covered much of the planet, killing or mutating most of the human race with its deadly emissions. Through the ruined cities and vast tiberium fields, two forces fight for the planet. It's a straight up fight, good NATO types versus the religious fanatics with the mad and sadistic frontman. Strange how often that seems to happen. As fans will know, the good guys are the Global Defense Initiative (GDI) and the cultists are known as the Brotherhood of Nod.
Both sides get some great "exotic" (i.e. expensive) specials. GDI has the Mammoth Mk. II - a kind of walker/tank hybrid that is awesome when used properly. The commando from C&C; (Tanya from Red Alert) reappears in a number of different forms. Nod gets a cyborg commando with an awesome weapon, capable of decimating infantry, vehicles and buildings alike and making very short work of enemy bases. He's capable of soaking up enormous amounts of enemy fire. Much like the marine from Quake, really. He also, like other Nod mutants, heals when in tiberium fields. For the GDI, there's a commando with a railgun that can destroy many targets at once. He also carries the familiar C4 explosives for blowing up buildings.
New structures make an appearance too, although the traditional base facilities remain unchanged. Construction facilities (the heart of the base, needed to manufacture other buildings) are still just as crucial. Power plants are needed to supply the base with electricity, and silos hold the precious tiberium until you have a chance to spend it. But this time GDI has the option to upgrade certain buildings to increase their capacity or add extra abilities. GDI base defenses now have a "modular" form: they all share the same tower, and require a weapon placed on top: choose from a Vulcan anti-infantry cannon, a rocket-propelled grenade for vehicles, or a SAM for those pesky helicopters. Sadly there is no provision for placing multiple weapons on one turret, but the turrets do slot neatly into any concrete walls you choose to build. Nod gets lasers and obelisks (similar to Tesla coils) for defense and various types of missile silo and production facilities. Both sides get various types of high-tech laser fencing, impenetrable unless the power is cut off.
Multiplayer options are restricted: Internet play is only via Westwood's server. You can't play head-to-head TCP/IP games, so LAN games are IPX only (so dust off your copy of Kali). There's modem/serial direct connections, and a skirmish option that lets you take on the AI with all the units and buildings enabled. A maximum of four players in Internet games and eight in skirmishes is the only limit. You can mix AI players into "human" games. It's particularly fun to take on the role of the Brotherhood - their units have much more potential for sneak attacks, surprises, and the other things that make multiplayer games fun. And the good news is that the dreaded "tank rush" tactic so common in online Red Alert games seems to have been laid to rest for good. For the uninitiated, this involved laying down a few essential buildings very quickly and then manufacturing a great number of tanks with which to storm the enemy base. Thankfully it's just not possible to build such a large force so quickly any more. Westwood have also added an option to randomly generate multiplayer maps that can be tailored to suit your wishes: the quantity of each individual terrain feature can be altered. So, if you should wish to play on a snow-covered map with no tiberium, lots of cliffs and more water than ground, you can. The game also comes with 2 CDs, one for GDI and one for Nod, so you can have a 2-player battle with one copy of the game. 2b1af7f3a8