2, Issue 2
November 18, 1999
my kids slowly grow older I find myself continually searching
for new games that maximize their enjoyment without overloading
the learning curve. What I mean to say is, I want them to be able
to jump right into a game without having to go through a hefty
manual or spend time reading information on the screen for what
to do next. Especially since the youngest of my gamers is 3 (my
youngest is nearing 2), and cant read just yet.
Often Ill go through the archives on my
computer and search for older games that Ive stopped playing
but I think they might find enjoyable. And the other day I came
across Total Annihilation. Amazingly, I was first introduced
to TA at a LAN party and immediately fell in love. I got
crushed helplessly against 4 other veteran players but it didnt
diminish my delight in finding this new RTS.
is a Real Time Strategy (RTS) war-type simulation. You must gather
resources to fund your campaign, and continually upgrade and build
new technologies and structures to advance in strength. It comes
with a complete single-player campaign, where you can select to
be on either side of the battle (CORE vs ARM), and comes with full
Total Annihilation, stuff blows up real good.
has been followed by a plethora of other RTS war-type games, but
it wasnt until I loaded it up again that I noticed what
made it great the first time around. There are a lot of things
I like about this game, that I havent seen duplicated in
others. Let me go through a few of them here.
build all types of military units, including walking KBOTS or
wheeled tanks and gun-toting jeeps, and in this game they dont
wait to be told where to shoot to start attacking enemies. Thats
nothing new, right? But, even when youve given them a new
location to move to, they will attack enroute. This is a feature
I havent seen in other games. In most RTS games, when you
move a unit, it wont attack an enemy until it has completed
its assigned move. This is really incredibly annoying if
youve moved a number of units, gone off to check another
part of your battle, and come back only to find that theyve
walked through an enemy ambush and have had their asses handed
to them on a silver platter. In TA, they are proactive
when meeting enemies, no matter what their assigned action. Plus
its configurable. You can turn this feature off if it isnt
working out, though Ive never had or wanted to.
are unlimited. Again, Ive never seen this anywhere else.
Your two prime resources are metal and energy. Metal can be found
in bottomless mines or by recovering wreckage, and energy is amply
abundant from light, wind, and gas sources. Limited resources
to me means there is a timer on the battle. Perhaps to eliminate
wars of attrition or battles that last to the wee hours because
wars have unlimited funding. In my experience however, this is
never the case. Unlimited resources means one less thing to worry
about. More attention can be spent on the battle itself. I like
system is still top of the line. Other games have gone with waypoints,
but Im sure TA was one of the first. When my younger
son starts up a campaign and needs help, in moments I can set
up a dozen different actions for his Commander to accomplish and
then leave him to play. 5 minutes later I can come back to find
his base is established and he is amassing an army for an all-out
war. I see Age of Empires 2: Age of Kings is using waypoints
now. Who do I thank for that?
select and group any number of units. This is not unique, but
its a big beef I have with games like Warcraft and
Starcraft. Hey Blizzard, listen up! If they didnt
make such badass games, I wouldnt play them.
you have over your units is nearly perfect. You can have a unit
or group of units: guard, patrol, or just sit where they are and
not move. I hate playing an RTS and suddenly find that my units
have taken off after some wandering enemy unit that was no danger
in the first place. Sure other games are configurable (just as
TA is configurable, but Ive never once had to change
it) in how much initiative you want your units to have, but it
just doesnt seem intuitive as it is in TA. In those
other games, Im getting too much or not enough. My particular
beef on AOE2 on this subject: how the heck do I get units
to stay where they are? Theres no Stay put command! I have
to move catapults way back from any potential battle near my base,
or they just strike out on their own and cause considerable damage
to my own structures and units.
are fun. How do I explain this? My kids get an absolute thrill
at watching the vehicles go at each other and the mass destruction
that ensues as a result (wonder what Mynx would say about this).
They hoop and holler and then send in more. The battles are realistic,
as are the weapon animations and explosions.
TA is showing signs of age. The graphics certainly are
nowhere near top of the line (not sure they were then either),
and the menu system is a bit clumsy, but I can easily look past
that. In my opinion, TA is a whole lot of fun and still
ranks up there with any popular RTS game of today. Plus it runs
damn fast on my pathetic P200. If youre a fan of RTS games
and havent checked it out, go hit the bargain bins. TA
is a great game and I will continue to recommend it.
Russell "RadPipe" Lauzon is some guy who just walked
into the loonygames office and started calling himself Features
Editor. The position wasn't filled so we kept him.