Review by Chris de Vos
"This three year old game is still one of the top dogs in the real-time strategy world"
What is your favorite way to victory in a real-time strategy game? Maybe you like to build up your army and crush your opponent. Or perhaps you are an aggressive type who sends waves of units the second you get them. Or maybe you wait for the enemy, setting a trap. These strategies are all ways you can win in Total Annihilation.
The graphics are not the greatest, and will not shock or surprise anyone. With the game, you get the now standard overhead view of your units. The advantage of having a system as simple as this is that it can run on almost any PC released this side of 1996. There are some nice effects, most notably the almost-realistic looking explosions. All in all, quite a bit out of date, but it gets the job done without much of a problem.
The sound in the game is quite amazing. Everything actually sounds like what I think it should sound like. It even has a fairly good sounding orchestrated piece. It may not be as great as some of Lucasarts adventure games, but it certainly adds greatly to the already stellar atmosphere.
The gameplay in this game is able to match any strategy game out on the market. There are literally more than a hundred unique units between the two sides, the Arm and the Core. While many of the units have exact counterparts of each other, there are several major differences between the two sides. Also, the game's AI is formidable enough to present somewhat of a challenge, even on the easiest level. When testing the game out for the first time (on easy!), I won (of course...), but if I hadn't placed any fortifications just outside of my base, the AI army would have stormed it, and I would have lost. On another occasion, with the difficulty level on hard, I fought in a cavern level. I managed to box up the opposing forces into a closed area, and started building up around them. When it was time to force my way into their base, I found it near impossible. I eventually broke down their fortifications with several bombing runs, but as the game was set up that the victor would be the person with the highest score (a combination of resources collected and total kills), the AI won because they killed 7 units for every 2 that I killed. I'll say it once, and I'll say it again: the AI in this game is unlike that of any other, because it actually is intelligent.
Fun Factor: 11/10
Now, I know a person who hasn't yet played this game and reads this might think I am blindly praising it, but believe me, this game is the real deal. I once played it for literally 8 hours straight! Even then, the only reason I stopped is because of fatigue (It was 4 am in the morning.
Cavedog's website has quite a few new units available, and I have tried most of them out, and they do indeed add a little more depth to the already stellar game. And multiplayer... I love multiplayer games. I've played dozens of people over the internet and over my home LAN, and while the AI is good, nothing ever holds the appeal of kicking the asses of your best friend, or your worst enemy...
Overall(not an average, just what I thought of the game overall): 9/10
To a few people, the graphics might pale the overall experience. Also people who like to have easy wins, the only way you'll be able to that is to cheat, and you might have ethical issues with that! To anyone else, Total Annihilation is one of the greatest strategy games ever to hit the shelves, and you should be able to find it for under $10 at many gameshops.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 04/15/01, Updated 04/15/01
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