Review by Chaos Control

"The weak should stay back!"

The words of Asch the Bloody from Tales of the Abyss rings true here. There is absolutely no room on the battlefield for the weak and cowardly. After all, this is war, not a tea party. Besides, there is no better feeling than watching your troops swarm the enemy base in a well planned attack, leaving no survivors. Command & Conquer brings out Tiberian Sun, which does an acceptable job of simulating the fury, chaos, and confusion that engulfs the battlefield. Don't let your guard down for a second because one mistake, like losing a key unit or structure, can jeopardize the entire mission. Fortunately, all you have to do is reload the mission and try it again. So save often, plan carefully, and remember: "Might makes right".

The story revolves around two organizations, the GDI, and the Brotherhood of Nod. While their relationship, roles, and goals are predictable and nothing special, it is presented in a mildly entertaining way. The GDI acts much like America, the country of freedom. When some evil organization like Nod threatens world peace, it's up to the world's police force, the GDI, to quash the threat. And of course, where is that mysterious figure with the unusual haircut and a thirst for global domination? It's not Yuri this time, but some other guy named Kane. No, not from Barbie! This Kane runs the Brotherhood of Nod from the shadows with intentions to take over the world!

Now you get to choose which side to play on. You can side with the GDI, and play a series of missions that will eventually end with the destruction of Nod. Or you can choose to assist in the domination of the world by evil, should that suit you. The balance of power appears to be equal at the beginning, but one amazing general like you is enough to affect the outcome of history. Players who have previously enjoyed games like Red Alert 2 will find the story to be suspiciously similar, with cool cutscenes in between missions. Okay, so we have established that the plot if nice, but the real challenge has yet to come.

Contrary to real life wars, sheer masses of units will be enough to win a war, even if you just charge the enemy head on in direct combat. In this case, the strategy element is reduced to ashes as all you need to do is outnumber the enemy. The key to winning is to be the rich guy at the top of the food chain, because he alone is the one that sets the rules. In order to reach this point, you must do what you did in all the other Command & Conquer games. The general concept in this game is to build a base, defend it, and mercilessly destroy your enemy. The first structure you often build is some kind of power generator. Shortly after, you will build the refinery to manage your money, barracks for training infantry, and a war factory to bring out the big guns. Each refinery comes with a harvester, which will gather Tiberium Ore scattered throughout the landscape. Control over the ore mines will allow you to harvest more ore, build more units, and dominate.

With a solid economic condition, you can amass offensive ground troops and build lasers to defend your bases. Any structure you should desire can be taken with force and infiltrated with an Engineer. Furthermore, you can build more structures and advance your technology, which will allow you to build more complex and dangerous weapons. Good units, like Titans, are powerful, but costly. Sending an army of just Titans and Wolverines would result in severe economic loss if they are destroyed, so you have to throw in some cheap infantry as shields. With so many different units and options to attack, the battle will be different every time. Keep an eye on the Tiberium reserves, as they are not always abundant. Managing finances, troops, and battles requires intelligence, which will ultimately be your strongest asset in a battle.

The campaign mode is just a series of missions with a variety of completion objectives. You will not always start out with a base. Sometimes, you will be given a handful of units and told to infiltrate a particular territory. These types of missions require a complete change in strategy, because you must avoid as much combat as possible. Reinforcements will occasionally arrive at certain check points, but it is up to the commander to avoid ambush or running into the heart of the enemy base. Other missions could be as simple as "destroy all enemy units". With sufficient resources, you can sit back, amass units, and defend you base before you begin the slow death march to your opponents base. To add even more fun to the experience, attack with a swarm of engineers. Take over enemy buildings and force them to attack their own structures, and sell it for your own gain. Theft is strongly encouraged, as well as anything that you get you the upper hand. All's fair in love and war.

While the variety of weapons, units, and structures may seem overwhelming, do not forget to take the environment into account. Good leaders observe the surroundings and see if they can take advantage of it. Tiberium is an unusual substance. It can be harvested for money, but Tiberium fields can have effects on units. Cyborgs and other mutants will actually heal when walking on these fields, while normal soldiers are hurt. You may even find unusual creatures prowling these fields, like visceroids, which are fast, liquid-like figures that are harmful to units.

Units can also be promoted, if they have destroyed enemy units equal to ten times its original value. The first level of promotion is Veteran, and it gives the unit boosted speed, firepower, and armor. Destroying another ten times its original value will promote it to Elite, which gives some units upgraded weapons and Elite abilities. Imagine training an army of Elite units! Surely it would send a shock to other players.

Like all previous Command & Conquer games, the AI cheats. Really badly. And you still need to find some way around it to win. Computer opponents have to wait time to build structures. As long as they have enough money, units and structures can pour out one after another with no wait time. When faced with multiple enemies, one enemy may attack with a swarm of troops and deal a heavy blow to your defenses. After you have survived, another computer may see the opportunity of weakness and finish you off. You will be in a rush to set up defenses before the impending attack, so you have to time to make your base look pretty for it's destruction.

There is also some kind of multi player mode, although I personally have never used it. It is troublesome to have to register online and find friends to play with. While the option is there, the incentive is not. Online play just hasn't appealed enough to be worth too much consideration. I've been satisfied playing in the campaign and skirmish modes.

Skirmish mode is a lot of fun, even if you are just doing the same things repeatedly. You can customize the battle in many ways, like initial credits, map, starting units, technology level, and opponents. This certainly grants a lot of flexibility and added value. You can even choose an urban battlefield and beat up on the civilians. This is the best mode for practice and is among the most enjoyable features of the game.

Graphically, it felt like something was missing. Let's start with the good parts, though. The environments and scenery are pretty, and so are the fields of ore. These backgrounds are detailed and even have their own shine. The battle is commanded from an overhead, isometric view. This means that you have watch your units move around in 3D. Units and structures that are destroyed also have a very cool looking explosion that goes along with their demise. Attacks also leave small craters in the ground. Even better are the movies you see during the campaign mode. You get to see some real actors saying funny lines and doing crazy things. Good stuff.

There are some glaring issues, like the under-detailed units, for example. Some of these sprites are done poorly, so you can hardly distinguish them from the trees nearby. Units slide all over the map like it is an ice skating rink. When trying to move mass numbers of units to another place, they will split up without your consent and take a less crowded route to their destination, which is often times through an enemy encampment. Rivers and lakes look like something I could draw with Paint.

Regarding the music, there are several techno style themes you can enjoy. Among the entire sound track, you may find one or two songs that you deem acceptable. Otherwise, the music will be easily forgotten. Eventually, you may get tired of listening to the same tracks again and again. I had to pull up iTunes in the background to play some real music.

Sounds effects are kind of repetitive, although they do serve their purpose. Different types of attacks like lasers and guns will sound cool. The best would have to be when buildings or units explode. That's the sound you never get tired of unless they belong to you.

All of your units are incredibly chatty. When you click on them, they say a line or two. The voice acting is done well because units have more to say than the same two lines. They talk when they are ordered to attack, getting attacks, moving to new locations, or fresh out of the barracks. It will get annoying eventually. The voices in the main game movie are meaningful, which means that they have more passion then just reading from a script.

I spent most of my times immersing myself in the wonders of the skirmish mode. Depending on the number of enemies and difficulty, a single skirmish could take anywhere from half an hour to the entire evening! Campaign missions take quite a chunk of time themselves, so it may take a week or two just to finish one side of the story.

While there may not be too much incentives to replay missions, the replay value is mostly in the skirmishes. Once you've had enough of it, Tiberian Sun won't have much left to offer you. The multi player value is rather low, so you will most likely play this game solo. This game is labeled as a strategy game, but actual strategy isn't really required. With a big wallet, you can just build the same strong unit and keep attacking, training nothing else. You can just stick to ground troops the entire game and still win.

The underdeveloped graphics with a lot of repeated buildings gives me the feeling the Westwood did not put all their efforts into this game. The lack of engaging tunes doesn't add to the experience, either. These are just some of the factors that earns the score of seven. The game is not bad, but I would not recommend you to purchase this game if you can get your hands on Red Alert 2 or it's Yuri's Revenge expansion. There are better games out there, so I insist that you only play this game if you want to see how far Westwood as improved. Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun still a little weak despite decent game play, so this game should stay in the back of the shelves.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 07/31/07

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