Review by SamDaMan 2002

"6 years, and still awesome."

6 years ago, a little company called Cavedog released a game. It was a Real-Time Strategy game called Total Annihilation, and it was truly awesome.

Then, it was an entire class above the pack. 150 units, far surpassing any serious contenders for the RTS crown, and one of the first 3D RTS engines around. Compared to today's pack, it's graphically bland, and the number of units isn't nearly as impressive. But the spice of this game does not lie in the graphics, or the number of units. It's the gameplay which makes this game one which I recommend to everyone.

When I first layed my hands on this game, it was an illegal copy which I was relaying between two people, and I installed. I was immediately blown away. Having no past experience in real-time strategy games, I was very impressed. Unfortunately, the illegality of the software meant that many features were hidden from me. So, I did something which was rare for me at the time: I bought the real game. Since then, I have bought the expansion for it, named Core Contingency, and layed my hands on the 2nd expansion, Battle Tactics, for a brief period of time. Both are essential to the serious TAer. Anyway, now onto to individual categories.

Graphics: 4/10 - at the time, these were some of the best. However, 6 years on, the bland, uni-angular and somewhat low-polygon graphics are not as good on the eye as most of today's games. The maps themselves are 2D, with invisible 3D contours used to simulate 3d effects, while the units are fully-animated 3D models.

Sound: 8/10 - the sound effects are awesome. Plasma barrages echo nicely, pierced by the shrill of laser fire, and k-bots (mechs to the laymen) amble around the terrain, surrounded by planes, tanks and ships, all with realistic sound effects. However, the default atmospherical, orchestral music, whilst fitting, may not appeal to everyone.

Gameplay: 10/10 - addictive and full of variety. The sheer variety of units may make you come back for more, and the possibility of downloading new units off of the internet should do nothing but enhance your experience. Downloadable units come in both official and unofficial form. However, creating them is not easy - it took me months of persistence to finally learn, and even then, my units are sub-par. Still, for the average gamer, the mere possibility of obtaining a practically infinite supply of units should suffice.

Multiplayer: 10/10 - the meat of the game. With an online community that is still thriving after 6 years, there are various platforms through which one can launch themselves into an online game. Although the original Boneyards server has now faded into oblivion, there are many other ways one can play online.

Story: 5/10 - generic, but fitting. Robots, cloning, outer-space, your typical sci-fi affair.

Overall: 9/10 - although not as aesthetically pleasing as some more recent efforts in this genre, I still believe that this game can easily hold its own with today's pack. Recommended to anyone, it should be pretty cheap nowadays.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 02/11/03, Updated 02/11/03


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