Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun
If a week is a long time in football, three years in computer games is an absolute age. But that's roughly how long Westwood have been labouring over Tiberian Sun, during which time governments have fallen, wars have raged and a slew of wannabe games have appeared, many of them trumping their 'inspiration' in a number of areas.
In the meantime, Westwood have kept their heads down, refused to rush things and simply worked at their own pace - an attitude that's slightly easier to carry off when you have a franchise that has grossed more than the Spice Girls' records.
But the world of video games is largely a hateful business and many people - whether competitors or insecure loners -have secretly (and not so secretly) wanted Westwood to fall on its face. Tiberian Sun is finally here, though, and it's evident from the score that they've done no such thing.
Even the most embittered website dullard must have had a nagging feeling that they knew what they were doing, and this has proven to be the case. Westwood have been vindicated and Tiberian Sun will inevitably go on to be one of the biggest-selling games of the year, and deservedly so. Why? Because it's great.
So was the original Command & Conquer, not to mention its extremely popular follow-up, Red Alert. The old adage: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," clearly applies, which in game terms usually means sticking a different number on the box and getting it on the shelves in time for Christmas.
In fairness, Westwood haven't quite gone down this route, although there are, naturally, similarities to the previous games. To put it in PR speak: "The game will be immediately familiar to fans of the original, retaining the essence that made it such a hit while refining the gameplay to even greater levels." Add your own exclamation marks.
Westwood haven't spent three years simply pissing money up the wall, though, and there are some tangible changes. The most immediately striking is the viewpoint-the previous overhead affair has been eschewed in favour of a fixed isometric 3D perspective.
Anyone expecting a newfangled Spinny-Rotatey engine is going to be disappointed, though, as Tiberian Sun isn't for turning. There will inevitably be some grumbles, but this is simply a matter of personal choice. At the end of the day, being able to turn the map wouldn't make it a better game and would only serve to complicate things. The nature of the game demands that some sense of locational awareness is required, such as knowing the position of enemy bases and potential directions of attack. Constantly shifting the position of the map would merely cloud the issue. At its basest level, the battlefield is the latter-day equivalent of a chess board, and you'd be hard pushed to play a game of chess with somebody constantly moving the table.
Since the last C&Cgame, the world of graphics has clearly moved on - not least due to the advent of 3D acceleration. Much has been made of Westwood using voxels for Tiberian Sun, despite the fact that no-one knows what they are and even fewer care. It's fair to say that real-time strategy isn't a particularly graphics-orientated genre, and all you need to know is that the game looks all right, throws the coloured lighting around with aplomb and runs without a 3D card. There are other details worth noting, such as a graphic depiction of soldiers being burned alive, and a Cyborg continuing to fight on, despite having lost everything from the waist down, hauling itself along on its elbows.
As for the scenery, the various geographical regions - such as temperate, tundra and desert -are all well presented and the shadows are in the right place. Ultimately, it's a perfectly convincing representation of a battlefield - as you'll see if you stop reading for a minute and look at the pictures - but if a further reference point is needed, it's a bit like Commandos but with more impressive effects.
These effects manifest themselves in many ways and are much more than mere superficial enhancements. The battlefield is now far more dynamic, with flying shrapnel, shockwaves and crashing debris all having a noticeable knock-on effect.
The environment now plays a far bigger part as well. For instance, forest fires can be started to flush out troops or to clear a path, and heavy units can crack ice - and even sink beneath it. A further step forward is the terrain deformation system. The landscape becomes scarred by the ravages of war, making damaged areas difficult to pass and impossible to build on. Also, some cliff sections can be bombarded until they become passable, and bridges can be destroyed or repaired, making for a whole new layer of tactics.
So-called neutral terrors abound, such as mutated dogs and the all-new Pit Monster, akin to the thing in Return Of The Jedi, greedily dragging units into its gut. There is also a further race of mutants, known as The Forgotten, with whom you can form an alliance.
The weather now plays its part, most noticeably in the form of ion storms. Nothing to do with the bone-idle Dallas developers, these are actually fierce electrical storms that shut down all hi-tech equipment, forcing you to rely on artillery until they pass.
The new units and technology certainly add to the mix. They include jump jet infantry, hover tanks, tunnelling APCs, hunter seekers, laser fences, mechanised battle units and the impenetrable firestorm defence. Westwood have clearly thought carefully about new additions and, rather than simply offering numerous ways to shoot things, they force you to employ a variety of tactics, using particular units in conjunction with each other as opposed to simply piling in en masse.
A further major advance is the introduction of veterancy, whereby units become faster and stronger through experience. Specific skills can also be acquired, such as the ability to auto-scatter instead of being crushed under the wheels of a tank. Which is nice.
You can play missions either as worthy good guys, the GDI or cheesy sci-fi villains the Brotherhood Of NOD. Each has 12 critical path missions, although supplementary tasks boost this to a total of 39. On both sides, the early efforts are fairly simplistic and effectively provide a tutorial. Once they kick in, though, they become increasingly complex and involve a variety of assignments. Particular missions introduce specific units and structures, and many different skills are required, from efficient base-building to controlling a select squad of crack commandos.
For the first time in a Command & Conquer game, a waypoint system is in place, enabling you to set tactics in advance, whether patrolling the base or destroying enemy buildings in a predetermined order. As for the Al, your boys will largely do what you tell them and sacrifice themselves to the cause, although putting them on guard mode gives them a greater sense of self-preservation. To make progress, or simply to stay alive, you constantly have to be on the go - issuing orders, building structures, protecting your units or making inroads into enemy territory. You are always part of the battle and, unlike many games, it's never a case of giving a few commands and sloping off for a pie. In fact, simply scratching your knackers without pausing the game involves a degree of timing and precision.
These are all merely words, though, and the only way to truly experience the intensity of Tiberian Sun is obviously to play it. The over-cautious may be interested to learn that, bizarrely, there will be a demo out in eight months' time, although the only benefit in waiting this long would be to prolong your suntan. Discerning punters will be locked in their rooms for the rest of the summer, formerly sparkling eyes will become pissholes in the snow and teeth will be ground to the point of lockjaw. The truly dedicated will emerge blinking into the daylight with a deathly pallor, only to buy the forthcoming add-on pack, which will take the story up to the fourth C&C instalment, Tiberian Twilight.
When that will see the light of day is anyone's guess but, in the meantime, Westwood have (finally) furnished us with a game of extraordinary depth and playability. And if you're sitting there in your grief-hole, muttering that it's simply CSC in hi-res, then please don't buy it. Neither Westwood nor EA are likely to go under without your 30 quid. Of course it's like CSC, but it was never likely to be a 2D platform game starring a clown. The wheel can't be reinvented, so what they've done is take that wheel, change the tyres, buff the hubcap to a shine and introduce a number of innovative new features. To extend the clumsy metaphor further, if the first Command & Conquerwas a roughly hewn disc, and Red Alert was a stout cartwheel, then Tiberian Suns a piece of modern precision engineering. Command & Conquer is as Commands Conquer does, and Tiberian Sun is the definitive version of the game. Now go and form an orderly queue.
Prepare for an online frenzy
It is a testament to its popularity that four years after it was first released, some 500,000 games of Red Alert are still played each month over Westwood Online. Clearly, Tiberian Sun will soon be racking up the same kind of figures, and it will support up to four players. Twice that number can play over a LAN, and this is where we have dabbled - although six hour sessions with scarcely time to blink can't really be described as dabbling.
For those without a LAN (ie everyone) or any desire to pay for Internet gaming (ie most people), the AI offers a very decent skirmish mode. A host of pre-defined maps are available, and a very easy-to-use random map generator makes for infinite possibilities. Simply decide on the type of terrain and map size, choose from a number of other options, such as Fog Of War and crates full of other goodies, and the computer does the rest It's great, and it enables you to run up a virtually complete technology tree within about half an hour, so you can see all the units without having to plough through the single-player missions. Which is nice.
Dodgy acting in game footage shock
Way back when the first Command & Conquer was unleashed on an unsuspecting public, a great deal was made of the Full Motion Video which interspersed the missions, with almost as much of the pre-publicity centering on clips of exploding tanks as It did on innovative gameplay.
People were easily impressed in 1995 and, if nothing else, it made for some eye-catching magazine coverage. Predictably enough, It's business as usual with Tlberian Sun, and a host of footage has been recorded on sets built on Westwood's own sound stage and on location at Red Rock Canyon National Park in the Nevada desert, near their Las Vegas HQ.
Naturally, It's the usual nonsense, with not even the involvement of 'Voice of Vader' James Earl Jones and Michael Biehn out of The Terminator and Aliens able to lift It above the mire of game footage. The hackneyed lines are earnestly barked - "Get me McNeil!" "Let's kick some ass!" "God dammit!" - and essentially it's somewhere between Babylon 5 and Channel 5.
It's all harmless hokum, though, and those who take these things a bit too seriously will lap H up. Alternatively, the nonplussed will simply look on it as a welcome break from the action, offering a chance to stretch muscles that have been locked in the same position for far longer than is healthy.
Download Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
What we thought
"A game of extraordinary depth and playability. Tiberian Sun is the definitive version of the game."
What you think
- "The best and smartest game have bought in a long while and I think that no-one could compare it to any thing else because it's in a league of its own. All the animation is crystal clear, the cut-scenes are perfect and all of the new units are well thought-out."
- "Red Alert without the cool units like commandos and naval forces. In fact the units on show are considerably crapper than the ones found in the original, which is years older!"
- "It's a superb game, with great units, great missions and improved graphics (although wish it was full 3D). Go and buy it NOW."
- "Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun is pure genius. The game plays like a dream. The units are also brilliantly balanced to provide maximum enjoyment, and haven't gone the TA route of giving you the same unit with different colours. You actually have to change tactics depending on what units you come up against. Westwood haven't fallen flat on their faces pissing money up the wall, they've genuinely worked hard to produce an enjoyable game."
- "What Westwood have been doing for three years is anyone's guess, they certainly haven't been spending it programming anything new into Tib Sun. The graphics are diabolical for this day and age and, if anything, worse than in Red Alert. I've also got Dune 2000 and the graphics for TS have obviously been ported from that game. To give TS 90% is an insult to the other great games out there that reach that figure."
This proves that you can't please all of the people all of the time. Some can see past the dated looks and appreciate the immersing gameplay, some can't. Fortunately for the game's sales, most of you can. I mean, you'd seen the screenshots beforehand, you knew what it looked like, so there's no excuse for whining about that now. Personally, if I see another pissy little harvester scuttling around an Eighties' graphics revival, I'll shave my eyes off with a rusty potato-peeler. Proving that you can't please all of the...
Strategy Guide - Part 1
Over the next two months we'll deliver the entire mission-by-mission solution for both GDI and NOD forces. We'll also throw in some expert strategies, as well as a whole host of other useful titbits. By the time we've finished with you, you're going to know more about this game than Westwood.
GDI - PART 1
1 - Reinforce Phoenix Base
Set up a refinery after repelling the initial attacks. Have two groups of four light infantry protect the base and fend off any further attacks. Send another two groups northeast to the NOD installations and destroy everything. Kill off the remaining NOD forces located around the Tiberium fields to complete the mission.
2 - Secure Region
Quickly erect a base by tbe Tiberium field. Amass a force of disc throwers, infantry and Wolverines. Destroy the SAM sites directly to the east and the one just north of those. Send your forces round the road to the south/southeast, destroying any remaining SAM sites as you go. Once you've passed through the settlement and reached the enemy stronghold, reinforce with disc throwers and Wolverines. You can now storm the enemy base and complete the mission.
3 - Capture Train Station (Optional)
Move west until you see the relay station. Send an engineer to capture it - this triggers handy reinforcements. Send the whole group west along the rock face, and then south onto the plateau. Capture the other relay station on the east side of this plateau for more reinforcements. Gather your troops and head north over the bridge. Continue along this road removing enemies and repairing bridges where necessary. Eventually you will pass through a small settlement and reach the top of the map. Move west, destroy the small NOD base and send an engineer into the train station to capture it NB If you complete this optional mission NOD, you should receive fewer reinforcements on the next mission...
3.1 - Locate And Secure Crash Site
Build your base to the west ot the ruined city. Get a second Harvester going sharpish. Set up perimeter defences and then use about a dozen Titans to attack the NOD position to the east.
Destroy or capture any troops or structures and consolidate. Add Wolverines and disc throwers to your main force, then move northeast under the bridge. Climb onto the bridge and charge the base on the north side. You need a big force, but you only need to capture the enemy tech centre. With that done, withdraw to the consolidation point. Reinforce your army with plenty of Titans and invade the crash site to the south. When that area is secure the level is complete.
4 - Defend Crash Site
This is just too easy. Just keep churning out light infantry and disc throwers to back up your existing forces. As long as you don't do anything stupid, this level is extremely straightforward.
5 - Destroy Radar Array (Optional)
March east, killing everyone you see and gaining reinforcements as you go. Bear south slightly to take out the Hand of Nod. Head northeast until you come to a ridge patrolled by NOD rocket infantry. When you move up onto the ridge to attack them, you run into a largish force and are ambushed. You should eventually win the battle, but the most important thing is to keep your medic(s) safe. Heal everyone and head south to the NOD base. Use the Titans to destroy the lasers, and then move the infantry in. Destroy all structures. Now that NOD can't reinforce its existing troops, it's easy to manoeuvre around the map taking out the radar and relay stations. NB Although only optional, it is highly recommended that you complete this mission as it considerably shortens the next.
5.1 - Rescue Tratos
An interesting mission - In so far as you control a small band of mutants, rather than humans. From the start, head west and use the mutant hijacker to capture the Tick Tank. Destroy the jeep before it drives away, and then go west into the Tiberium field. Here you pick up a Tiberium Fiend who seems to be one of the mutant's pets, so don't harm him and he'll help you out. It's also worth remembering that mutants heal in Tiberium fields, so if you're injured it's a good idea to come back here.
When ready, destroy the checkpoint to the west and cross the bridge. Sneak into the medical compound via the southeast comer while the other Tiberium Fiends divert the guards. Send Umagon into the medical centre to rescue Tratos, and then run like hell back to the start. An Orca transport extracts Tratos and reinforcements arrive. Start building your base in the northeast and then when you have a sizeable force of Titans, flood west to the NOD base. Take out the power plants first, and then the rest of the buildings. If you're attempting this mission without completing the previous optional mission, you have to go the long way round when rescuing Tratos. This also means that you have to breach the main gate, which is nigh on impossible, but that's the price you pay for not taking out their radar array.
6 - Destroy Vega's Dam (Optional)
Protect your forces, don't take unnecessary risks and use your Titans cunningly as you want as little trouble as possible on this mission until you get to the far north of the map. Just keep following the path, fighting enemies and receiving reinforcements as you go. When you get to the small NOD encampment, ignore it and turn south. You will reach the middle of a bridge, from where you can hit one of Vega's dams with a couple of Titans. It may take a while but you can destroy the dam from here. Move your forces across to the other side of the bridge and concentrate on using the Titans to destroy the defences and take out the power plants. Finally, move your force in closer to the remaining dam and destroy it.
NB Although difficult, it is once again advisable that you complete this optional mission, as doing so gives you instant reinforcements on the next.
6.1 - Destroy Vega's Base
If you didn't complete ttie optional mission, patrol the surrounding area until you've destroyed the seven SAM sites. With that done, reinforcements arrive and you can establish your basa If you did complete the optional mission you can start building your base instantly. Get three or four Harvesters on the job as quickly as possible and build up a large stronghold with heavy defences and pavement interiors to stop subterranean APCs attacking.
Cross the bridge to the west with a medium force of Titans and take out NODs perimeter defences. Concentrate on SAM sites especially. Return (what's left of) this force to a safe place. Send in another wave of Titans, Wolverines and infantry to attack the main gate of the base. Keep about ten Titans back, and send ten in with the main force. Work again on taking out any SAM sites within the base. When the air defences are down you can send a few Orca fighters over to destroy the main structures. Remember also to back up your attack force with the Titans at the rear, and bring in the remains of the earlier group. This is a difficult mission, and it may take a few attempts, so save at crucial moments and don't lose faith. Finally, destroy Vega's Pyramid and the mission is over.
NOD - PART 1
1 - The Messiah Returns
Start by building a refinery. When the Harvester heads north, send some light infantry for protection. At this point, your base comes under fire. Use your original infantry to defend yourself, but make sure you get a Hand of Nod up and running quickly to provide reinforcements. When a dozen or so units are available, split them into two squads and send them out to clean up the rest of the map.
2 - Retaliation
Build up your base slightly to the west of the fields near the gate of Hassan's small base. You are constantly attacked here but, providing you get a Harvester or two going, it won't take long to build up a sizeable force with plenty of attack buggies. Smash through Hassan's feeble defences and keep going to capture the unguarded TV station and end the mission.
3 - Free Rebel Nod Commander (Optional)
Move to the southwest and eliminate the soldiers by the tunnel. On the other side of the tunnel, send your force into the base. Kill the guards but leave the buildings intact Quickly shoot the trucks to free the infantry and engineers. Capture the Hand of Nod, the refinery and a power plant.
Start producing engineers and capture the other structures. Now train up a meaty force of rocket and light infantry. Send an engineer to repair the bridge to the east, and then pour your army into Hassan's base. Primary targets are the Tick Tank and laser. When the laser is down, the Rebel NOD commander escapes. Escort him back to the starting point of the mission, ensuring he doesn't get killed to accomplish your goal.
NB Completing this optional outing serves to deprive Hassan of reinforcements in the next mission.
3.1 - Destroy Hassan's Temple And Capture Him
From the start, trundle across the bridge and kill everyone but not everything - reinforcements will arrive, allowing you to capture the structures. An MCV will also turn up, so start a refinery and harvest the Tiberium to the southwest. Erect strong base defences to protect the exposed west flank of your base. Four lasers and three Tick Tanks work efficiently.
Amass a small offensive force and sack the minor base to the west. Now fix the bridge to the east and move a fair size group of infantry across. Capture the Hand of Nod on the opposite side and continue to swell your assault force. When it's ripe with Tick Tanks and infantry, march north with some engineers to shatter the main base. Destroy the Pyramid to capture Hassan and trigger the end of the mission.
4 - Blackout (Optional)
Keep going northeast at the start until you reach a peninsula with a broken bridge. Build your base here. You are totally safe from attack in this location, so spend some time building up a force of Tick Tanks and cyborgs.
When you have about ten tanks and the same number of cyborgs, repair the bridge and head north to the small GDI outpost. Kill all personnel and take over the buildings with engineers. Build a dozen Titans to strengthen your army and move west down the slope into the main GDI encampment. When you destroy or capture the radar station, the mission will end.
NB Completing this mission prevents the appearance of another GDI base in the south, meaning fewer reinforcements for existing enemy forces.
4.1 - Eviction Notice
Climb onto the plateau to the west and destroy the car on the train tracks. This causes the train to roll downhill and destroy the first enemy turret. Establish your base on the plateau, get two or three harvesters going and create a force of Tick Tanks, buggies and cyborgs. Send your initial troops east and let them cause havoc in the GDI Tiberium fields.
When you've destroyed their Harvester, head into the city and edge northwards. Attack the GDI base from the northeast, and while this attack is ongoing, bring your main army in to attack the front gate. Raze the base and move to the top left-hand corner of the map to find the temple.
5 - Salvage Operation
Kill the guards at the train station and then follow the left set of train tracks. On this mission you receive no reinforcements at all, so take good care of your meagre force - especially the engineers. When you pass the second bridge, destroy the Titan, then continue following the tracks.
When you reach another small train station, turn south until you come across the crash site. Send an engineer into the craft. Move the rest of your group around to the west side of the ship and keep going west along the canyon until you can climb south onto the plateau. Here there is another station. Destroy the guards, then the train, and then walk into the Tacitus to complete the mission.
6 - (Part One, First Choice) Locate And Capture Uimagon
Set up your base and use the artillery unit to guard the western bridge and defend this area with laser turrets. Build up a glorious army and march into enemy territory via the eastern bridge. Push this army along to the top left-hand comer of the map and position it by the tunnel in time for when Umagon's train emerges. You automatically win the level.
6.1 - (Part One, Second Choice) Locateand Capture Umagon
Forget about this. Just complete the previous mission instead - it's a lot easier and a lot quicker. If you do choose to take this one on, be prepared to build up a massive force.
6.2 - (Part Two) Sheep's Clothing
The continuous attacks by mutant camper vans, etc in this mission can be draining on your resources so capture the barracks near the start and begin to expand your 'GDI' base. When you feel that you are well defended enough, throw six Titans into the mutant camp to the southeast. When that is destroyed, add a further six Titans to your force and charge northeast to demolish the main mutant encampment. Don't forget the helipads - make sure you hit these to stop the mutant choppers rearming. Resistance is generally weak by this stage and you shouldn't have too many problems destroying the rest of the base.
What we thought
"Westwood have (Anally) furnished us with a game of extraordinary depth and playability."
What you think
- "Too easy by far. I completed it on medium setting within a week, whereas the games' previous two incarnations took about four months. The characters are crap too, James Eart Jones is thoroughly unconvincing and the guy who plays Kane is a total twat. Corny one-liners such as "Let's kick some ass" and "Dammit, Mac!" just don't do it for me. If Westwood had such a huge budget, they could have at least hired a decent script writer."
- " Tiberian Sun is a good game, but definitely not worth a classic. Come on - it's barely any different from the original. I seriously hope the immensely talented guys at Westwood aren't going to run this franchise into the ground by releasing countless indistinguishable sequels. "A better approach would be to concentrate on making original products and expanding gaming frontiers, rather than bogging themselves down in the pursuit of gold."
Strategy Guide-Part 2
From now on you need quick thinking, lightning fast reflexes and the tactical knowhow of Napoleon and the legendary stamina of Josephine. The remaining part of our guide directs you through your mission objectives, but does not go into specifics for each battle, seeing as the same strategy can often be repeated. Got that soldier? Good. Let's hit the battlefield...
GDI - PART 2
7 - Capture Hammerfest Base
After the attack on the bridge, take the three MRLSs east, defeat the Nod cycles, then move northwest and re-enter the water. Destroy the radar station then go north and hit the power stations to the east while keeping your MRLSs out of enemy range.
Go back round to the southeast, past the now deactivated Obelisk of Light and keep going until you reach a small base. Take this over and build up some rocket infantry units.
Move the MRLSs along the top of the map to the west. Blow up the cliff wall and venture southwest across the Tiberium field. Hammerfest is to the east now. Trash a few power stations to make the firestorm walls inoperative, then move in with some engineers. Take the construction yard and the base is yours. Repair your new base and get everything up to speed.
The final base is to the south. Get a large army of Titans and destroy the SAM sites and lasers first. Send in the mop-up forces and clean all opposing forces off the map to proceed to the next mission.
8 - Retrieve Disruptor Crystals
Load up the APC with infantry, gather together all amphibious vehicles and MRLSs, and head east up the cliff. Work your way south through the waterways, round the back of the base and launch your attack. Blow up both engines on the front and rear of the train to find the crystals. Simple.
9 - Rescue The Prisoners (Optional One)
Snake your way east along the bottom of the map fending off attacks as you go. Eventually you find a bridge. Cross the bridge, eliminate the perimeter defences and head north through the base. Destroy the SAM sites to allow the prisoners to escape.
9.1 - Destroy Chemical Supply Station (Optional Two)
The first problem is finding a place to set up home. Move east until you find a laser guarding some chemical tanks. Wipe this lot out and set your base up here. Concentrate on defence firstly by building plenty of RPG towers. When the base is secure, use MRLSs to scout the whole map and take out any SAM sites you can.
Assemble a mighty torce of Titans, MRLSs, Orcas and rocket infantry. Position your infantry behind the main Nod base over on the northwest side of the map. Move the Titans, MRLSs (and any other units you want) to attack the frontal defences. Send the waiting rocket infantry southeast to destroy the advanced power plants. Use the Orcas to help them.
With the power down, the frontal assault cuts scythe through the base. Keep backing up your forces and the battle is relatively short.
9.2 - Mine The Powergrid (Optional Three)
You can only reach this optional mission after putting the Ghoststalker into the train in the top left corner of the map in option 2. tf you don't do this, you'll go straight to the main part of the mission.
9.3 - (Main) Destroy Chemical Missile Station (Main)
Use a force of Titans and engineers to take the base to the east. Use this base as your staging ground for a larger assault on the main enemy fortress. Use the captured structures to strengthen your force with Tick Tanks and a few mobile repair vehicles. You also need some artillery units and mobile sensor array.
Advance your army east using cycles and MSAs to scout the area ahead. Destroy the Obelisks of Light with artillery and make good use of the Titans against other defences. Keep edging forward in this manner and the missile plant is eventually destroyed.
10 - Destroy Prototype Facility (Option One)
Take your merry band of mutants southeast until they reach a small Nod base. Move the Ghoststalker in to take out the northeast laser. Retreat to safety, and then send the Mutant hijacker in to steal the ARC. Move everybody into that and head west to the Tiberium field to heal.
Now take the APC across the river just south of the broken bridge and keep heading south until you reach a bridge going northeast. Cross the bridge and drive east. Eventually you reach the main Nod facility at which point your reinforcements appear in the southwest of the map. Start building here. Make sure you are well defended and have four harvesters going. Get together a decent sized force and advance back north to the initial Nod outpost. Time it so this force attacks while an APC of engineers takes over the structures.
Now use this as your primary base. Start constructing Tick Tanks, artillery and MSAs. Move a large force east and destroy everything in the area. Keep advancing until you smash the prototype facility.
10.1 - Destroy Prototype Facility (Option Two)
This mission is very similar to the last apart from the map layout. From the start, bear west to the little base, sneak everyone into the APC and continue west. When you reach the main base your reinforcements appear just north of the starting point. Follow the same basic strategy as in the previous mission and you shouldn't have any problem overrunning the first small base and the prototype manufacturing facility.
11 - Weather The Storm
Set up around the Kodiak, then get rid of those damn artillery units. When you have a strong base, place a group of Titans in the Nod Tiberium field in the northeast and have them destroy any Harvesters that enter. Send another group of about seven or eight Titans to the north of the map and then east. Some cloaked advanced power plants come into view. Pound away at those and at the same time take your other Titan force east to wipe out the now deactivated Obelisks of Light. However, if you spot any errant Harvesters, destroy them too. With Nod's economy severely crippled it shouldn't take too long to massacre the rest of the base.
12 - Final Conflict
Secure the first base. Send an APC full of engineers to the northwest corner of the map where a few ancient Mammoth tanks can be found. Move them east to destroy the Obelisk of Light and at the same time send the engineers into the base to capture as much as they can. Quickly build a barracks and advance south destroying the first ICBM and the remaining buildings.
When you've captured this base head south from your original base to find the next Nod stronghold. Your artillery should sort out the defences here, swoop your forces into the wound and destroy them from the inside out. Eliminate the second ICBM in the south. Now march west. When you reveal the island and the Obelisks of Light, let rip with your artillery. Head onto the island and target the construction yard first. With that out of the way you can pretty much clean up, finally destroy the third ICBM.
The final Temple of Nod and Pyramid can be located on the far east of the map. Fortunately, you'll find that there is barely any power serving this base anymore, and so the final blow should be decisive.
After what seems like an endless stream of addons and expansions to the premier real-time strategy game, Westwood looks ready to release the next generation of C&C. Tiberian Sun takes place further into the future, so you can count on seeing tons of new high-tech count on seeing tons of new high-tech weaponry for both the GDI and the Brotherhood of NOD. The game will be powered by an all-new engine, will contain maps larger than those found in Red Alert, and, as you can see from these screens, it looks gorgeous. The real-time strategy war rages on this fall.
It's been three years since Command & Conquer: Red Alert won our 1996 Strategy Game of the Year award -- three years that have seen the likes of Age of Empires, Total Annihilation, and Starcraft up the ante, but at long last, Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun has arrived. Was it worth the wait? Well, not really. This latest incarnation is still a solid game, but it now rates squarely in the middle of the pack.
Why? Consider its competition -- the most impressive and daunting of which might have been its own predecessor Red Alert. Tiberian Sun, while a strong real-time strategy game in its own right, simply does not come close to being the ground breaking title that Red Alert was -- witness the fact that when Red Alert debuted, stores were sold out, either in advance, or in minutes of receiving their first shipments; with Tiberian Sun there was no shortage of supply, and in fact many retailers were selling the standard version (I'll get to the "Platinum Version" in a moment) as low as $29.99 a week after its release.
Could be that Westwood just was ready with some better distribution channels this time, or it could be that the field that the Command & Conquer line largely pioneered is now just so stuffed to the gills with wannabes that the game playing public is largely sated already, despite the pedigree of this title. In either case, some credit for the decent, if only that, initial showing for Tiberian Sun must rest with Westwood itself for releasing a good, but not great followup.
If you've played any of the Command & Conquer games, especially Red Alert, you'll feel right at home in Tiberian Sun... in fact, it might take you a little while to see what's changed. It's still your basic NOD vs. GDI battle, two futuristic societies duking it out on an unforgiving Earth, but this time with some truly 3-D terrain, some nifty new units, some decent actors in the cut scenes and, if you're willing to shell out an additional fifteen bucks, a "special edition" manual, individually numbered silver box, "soundtrack" CD, and cute little pewter figurine of a laser-toting footsoldier of the 22nd century that come with the "Platinum Edition" -- a through and through marketing ploy if I ever saw one. In case you can't tell, I think the "Platinum Edition" is a pretty much a complete waste of money unless you really, really want to get a geek's eye view of the Tiberian Sun world -- there are no new levels, new units, multiplayer server software, or anything special about the "Platinum Edition" other than the aforementioned toys and trivialities that add nothing to the game itself which, if you're like me, is why you'd buy it in the first place.
Okay, end of rant. The quick line on Tiberian Sun is that given three years, it needed to be a good deal more than it is to once again truly wow the PC gaming world. Still, if you liked Red Alert, it's safe to say you'll like Tiberian Sun -- it's a nice update to the Command & Conquer gaming universe, and is on par with all the currently released titles (although I write this on the eve of the release of Age of Empires 2, so that statement may be short lived). Included this time are unit build queues, waypoints, better environment manipulation ability (subterranean and aquatic APCs, enginners that can repair bridges), a good outside threat (the mutants and tiberian fiends), and the aforementioned 3D environment, all of which add considerable depth to the game play, even if most of these features are to be expected these days.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
As with all real time strategy titles, Tiberian Sun is a mouse-controlled game that even a novice can quickly pick up the finer points of relatively quickly. In the single player version you are introduced to the whole NOD vs. GDI conflict via a nice intro movie and are updated on your progress throughout the game with cut scenes before and after each mission. In multiplayer, you are just dropped right in the middle of the action and you're off. Perhaps it's just a personal beef, but many game studios now think it necessary to include a little mini-movie parceled out into 45 second chunks over the course of a game to make the whole thing cohesive and enjoyable -- I say, cut to the chase and spend less time on backstory and more on making a game so cool I can't wait to play it again and again. But maybe that's just me. I'm not going to tell you the storyline for Tiberian Sun other than to say that the bad guy you thought you killed (yeah, right) at the end of Red Alert is back with all the acting talent of Bernie from Weekend at Bernie's and that you'll once again have to save the universe by beating him up.
As for the game interface, not much has been added -- the basic HUD display in the upper right still shows the game map, building repair and sale icons, and your base's power supply. Same scrollable list of units on the right, same basic keyboard commands and structure. Taken as a whole, that may sound like a criticism, but this is one place where Westwood has done right in leaving well enough alone. The original Command & Conquer interface was one of its best points and part of what made the whole system easy to learn and fun to play and thankfully they have resisted the urge to tinker with the success of this presentation.
For those of you who are completely new to the Command & Conquer games, suffice it to say that the basic point is to gather raw materials (tiberium -- a type of ore which is readily converted to monetary units) to build your base, upgrade structures, and outfit infantry, armor, air power, and a vast array of futuristic weapons and defenses. You gather tiberium with a harvester, which then returns it to your base for processing. Beyond that, this is a game of superiority of firepower and money. Tactics do come into play, but as there is only a single resource to be managed in this game, it almost always comes down to who can outproduce the other guy. In this, the folks at Westwood might have taken a page from their competitors who require from two to four different resources to fully control the game, a requirement that adds a good deal to the tactics of other titles; Tiberian Sun, like all the Command & Conquer titles that have gone before, is more slugfest than intellectual exercise. There are days when such simplicity is appealing, and others where I am left wondering what more might have been with some complexity.
Simply put, multiplayer is where it's at in Tiberian Sun. No computer AI can match taking on your buddies, especially in terms of the satisfaction you get from sneaking those stealth tanks or subterranean APCs into their base for an engineer surprise party. Also, this time around the latency and dropped games over the Internet are greatly decreased, which is a welcome change from Red Alert. If you've never played a multiplayer real time strategy game, you will want to check out Tiberian Sun, especially on the larger six to eight player maps.
If there's a single area I'd identify as completely overhauled and improved in Tiberian Sun it is definitely in its graphical sophistication and terrain modeling. The maps are truly beautiful, and the movement of units, fires, explosions, day and night colors are all very much worth a look.
The presentation of the three dimension terrain, including bridges that units can drive under, tunnels through which an entire army can disappear to re-emerge on the far side, and the multi-level cliffs and ridges that give the map its texture (and the game its best tactical challenges) all really do serve notice that there has indeed been significant additions to this game over the past three years. All in all, I think that the terrain in Tiberian Sun is superior to any other I have seen, and additionally serves to point out that the programmers at Westwood have learned a great deal about how to build good path-finding AI into their units -- what once was the bane of the original Command & Conquer is no longer a significant issue, and even serves to enhance the gameplay as you watch your tanks wend their way down a narrow valley while your infantry charges ahead to take the high ground.
The manual for Tiberian Sun would have you believe that there are extensive new sound effects in this game, but as a Command & Conquer veteran I must say that if there are, they are few and far between. Some new voices and music have been added, that's true, but the industrial score of Tiberian Sun and the "Yes sir", "I'm on it", and "Building in progress..." voice-overs are really just so much background noise and basic gameplay taglines that I feel this claim of Tiberian Sun being a whole new supercharged game in terms of its audio is, again, just so much marketing hype.
Required: Microsoft Windows 95/98 or Windows NT 4.0, Pentium 166mhz, 32 MB of RAM 2 MB video card, 4X CD-ROM Drive, Windows-compatible mouse and keyboard, 640x480 SVGA high color (16-bit) display, Windows and DirectSound compatible sound card, 200 MB hard drive space.
Recommended: Pentium II 300mhz or above, 64 MB of RAM, 6-8 MB video card, 20X CD-ROM drive, Windows-compatible wheel scrolling mouse, 800x600 SVGA true color (24-Bit) display, 28.8 - 56kbps modem for multiplayer play.
Tiberian Sun continues in the tradition of other Westwood games in that it has a very good manual with clear explanations of units and game commands. What's missing is a good quick reference card or an in-game help screen (at least I couldn't find one). In the "Platinum Edition", you also get some additional pages of artists' renderings and storyboards from the game's production, all of which are interesting to browse through, but don't do much for you in the thick of battle.
Westwood Studios has a very good game in Tiberian Sun -- one that will be good for many an hour on rainy nights this winter, but it is not the masterwork that Red Alert was. Sometimes the price of being the best is increased expectations and increased demands for leadership and innovation. Such is the case with this latest installment in the venerable Command & Conquer line, and so it is that it comes up a bit short of once again knocking one out of the park. Overall, Tiberian Sun rates an 85 -- solid work, good effort, but a bit uninspired given the time they had to perfect it; perhaps it is time to retire this story and this world and start anew, try to surprise us with a whole new take on tanks and infantry and weapons of war -- lose the desire to make a game into a movie and to rest on one's laurels.