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C&C: Tiberian Sun

Before Total Annihilation, before Starcraft, hell, even before "real-time strategy" was an established computer game genre, there was Command & Conquer. And while some might argue that Dune 2 was the first game to offer this type of fast-paced, top-down gameplay, it was Command & Conquer that grabbed the gaming community by the throat and screamed, "This is the way strategy games should be!" Since those not-so-early days, the real-time strategy genre has just exploded, producing more titles than store shelves can hold. True, quite a few of those games were simply clones of older RTS classics, but there were a few that have made an indelible mark on the gaming community, for their originality, playability, and superb graphics. You really have to wonder, though, if hits like the aforementioned Total Annihilation would even have been possible if not for the groundwork laid by Command & Conquer. Even more curious is that fact that subsequent C&C-based titles, like Sole Survivor, have paled in comparison to other games in the genre. All that, my friends, is about to change....

It seems like gamers have been talking about Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun for years, even when the original Command & Conquer had a home on their hard drives. Well, what may have seemed like a prime candidate for the vaporware hall of fame is very much alive, and ready to hit your PC sooner than you may think. Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun has had quite an extensive development period, but the game has undergone significant improvements and enhancements since the blueprints first left the drawing board. There is one thing you can be sure of: the finished product will be something the likes of which the real-time strategy genre has never seen.

Fans of the original game will be happy to know that Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun does indeed center on the age-old struggle between the Global Defense Initiative (GDI) and the Brotherhood of NOD. At the end of Command & Conquer, Kane, the obsessed ruler of the Brotherhood of NOD, was killed...or so reported the GDI. But they never did find his body, and so this sequel picks up where the original left off. Over the course of the game, you'll discover what happened to Kane, and who, or what, is still driving the Brotherhood of NOD onward toward its goal of world domination. Along the way, you'll also discover the truth about Tiberium, that ultimate resource that was the focus of all the action in the first game.

My first "hands-on" experience with Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun was at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo. Seeing screenshots was one thing, but actually checking out the action up-close and in person was an entirely different experience. To be perfectly honest, I wasn't very impressed with the early screenshots I saw; I thought Westwood should have made a greater leap in graphics since the original game, especially when you take into consideration what was done in Myth: The Fallen Lords. But I learned first-hand that Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun is one book you definitely can't judge by its cover.

Unlike the previous games in the series, which usually saw GDI and NOD forces doing battle in some neutral territory, or presented the player with the task of infiltrating more and more enemy installations, constantly trudging forward, Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun will take a slightly different overall approach to gameplay. While these elements will certainly be present, a much greater emphasis has been placed on base building and base defense (something I personally love, and a real draw for multiplayers). The player will have to build the ultimate installation, complete with walls, gates, fences, gun turrets, and any number of different defensive structures. One of the coolest features will be the turrets themselves; the turret heads will be removable, so you can customize your weapons for whatever threat may come -- surface-to-air missiles for enemy aircraft, ground lasers for wiping out infantry, etc.


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