Total Annihilation: The Core Contingency
|Editor Rating:||6.5/10, based on 1 review|
|User Rating:||8.0/10 - 1 vote|
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Whether you see add-ons as rip-offs depends on how much you liked the original game. Fans lapped up the lacklustre Red Alert: Counterstrike, just as fans of TA will lap this up. But Core Contingency, the first expansion pack for Cavedog's classic, is heaven-sent.
It has more units than the entire C&C series. Many have been available for download for a while already, but with over 70 extra vehicles and buildings for single and multiplayer games, you wonder what Cavedog could possibly do with the next add-on that could make TA any better.
Actually, that's easy. The main weakness of TA was in the single-player campaign missions, and it's the same here. While there are two new campaigns (one for each side), progression is a steady grind, with no real depth of involvement - due in part to boring between-mission narration (no cut-scenes here). The new missions and environments are well-constructed, and although the AI still seems a bit sticky they offer a strategic wealth of options. Don't be deceived - the missions are easily on a par with the originals. But if you found yourself skipping them and playing skirmish games instead, you'll probably do the same here. It can be a soulless advance, but persevere through the waterborne missions and they do get steadily better.
Multiplayers and skirmishers will get the most from this pack. The best enhancement is resource sharing: allies can now pool their energy and metal reserves as well as mapping information. This lends the game a new diplomatic angle where lone players can ill-afford to take on pairs alone. For the serious multiplayer, there are new shortcut keys. Even factories can be assigned to squads-their combined output is automatically born into the same team.
The new terrains are a mixed bag; the water terrain can be dull, and on Luschworld units get obscured in the dense foliage. Conversely, the urban wasteland is fun and offers a lot of scope for multiplayer battles. It would be nice to be able to alter the ten ain, perhaps by digging trenches or building platforms on the sea, but maybe we'll see that in the sequel.
The hover-based craft make up the bulk of the new units, but notable lovelies include the Maverick (top-looking ARM Kbot), the Podger (multiple mine-layer), Decoy Commanders and the mammoth CORE Krogoth, a heavily-armed walking nightmare. If you're still getting used to the original units you may find Core Contingency tieavy going; it seems to take ages to learn what tactical advantage can be gained from such a bewilderingly large arsenal.
If you've downloaded the latest patch and the extra units from Cavedog's website, you may feel short-changed, as you'll already have resource-sharing, 20 new units and a few new maps; Core delivers 50 or so new units and two new campaigns and a mission editor. Actually, that's a fair bit... Well done, Cavedog.