Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun – PC – Review – PC – Review

He was dead. Intelligence had confirmed it.

But the key element in that report was a body to prove it. Now, like the tail of a scorpion poised to strike, the nightmare has risen, bringing unification to the Brotherhood of Nod and spreading his evil poison across the face of the planet.

Yes, Kane is back. His menacingly maniacal grin, his vision of a future ruled by himself, and his willingness to sacrifice the loyal Brotherhood are again pitted against the Global Defense Initiative. Armed with Tiberian super-weapons and mutated human cyborgs, Nod is wreaking havoc and your job, as Commander Michael McNeil, is to stop him. Sounds simple, but it is far from that.

Command and Conquer: Tiberian Sun is the third in the series of futuristic war simulation games from Westwood, a member of the Electronic Arts family. It requires the ability to quickly make decisions and to focus on several things simultaneously in order to succeed.

From the moment you launch the program, you are filled with the feeling that something special and exciting is about to happen. The game-install sequence is incredible. And this program features amazing video footage. Veteran actors James Earl Jones and Michael Biehn (“Aliens,” “The Terminator”) lend themselves to the action. Jones is General Solomon, while Biehn is McNeil – the character you play as part of the GDI contingent. There is something awe-inspiring about Jones, and his booming bass voice, looking straight at you and either urging you on to victory, or congratulating you on a mission accomplished.

There are many facets to this program You must build your forces, as well as harvest Tiberium, build power plants, barracks and generally create the vehicles for sustained combat against an enemy easily as powerful as your forces. As you progress through the game, you are exposed to bigger killing machines, more intense action, more in-depth missions – all which lead to a confrontation with Kane.

Harvesting Tiberium is essential to the war effort. It translates into financial gain and without that, you can’t expand your resources. Of course, you can always deploy an engineer to capture enemy structures that enable you to train soldiers without having to waste funding of your own. But the cost in lives can be high in trying to take over an enemy stronghold. Each mission is rated upon successful completion. You score points based on casualties and time-lapse, which translate into an efficiency rating.

There are three forces at work in this game – GDI, Nod and “The Forgotten.” The latter are humans mutated by exposure to Tiberium. They are nomads and great warriors, who can be talked into fighting for your side. And which side is that? Command and Conquer caters to either side of your personality. If you feel that being on the side of good is your cup of combat, then you can command the GDI force. However, if you would rather be evil, mean and nasty in your approach to warfare, you can command the Brotherhood. The two CDs included in the program allow for either option.

While the set-up for this game is wonderful, the program is only slightly above average in game-play graphics. The map has a nice three-dimensional feel, the terrain is well constructed but the tiny characters moving and engaging with enemy troops is stock material. Don’t expect Tiberian Sun to break new ground here. This is the same kind of action straight out of Sierra’s SWAT 2, or Eidos Interactive’s Commandos series. Granted, the system requirements are surprisingly low, but the game does have some scrolling lags. You may have forces on one side of the mission map, waiting for reinforcements, who are engaged in combat while you are on the other side of the map building more storage silos, power plants or combat units. By the time you get back over, half your force may be dead. Yes, they do engage on their own, but you need a fair amount of strategy – flanking maneuvers, and concentrated firepower – to save your skin and continue with the mission.

I also experienced some problems trying to play the game on the Westwood On-line (WOL) server. A patch is required to hook up, and then the log-in and account creation took longer than I wanted it to. With the great build-up, there is an urge to go out and kill something. Getting bogged down in Internet lag can diminish enthusiasm quickly.

In spite of these minor setbacks, Command and Conquer: Tiberian Sun is a solidly-constructed, challenging program. Three play levels allow the novice the opportunity to jump into the program, while the veteran of computer warfare will have his, or her, work cut out for them.