Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun
I was salivating for this game. After pouring an obscene number of hours into RA across two platforms, I was ready for anything C&C related, especially after reading all the hype in PC gamer.
It disappointed me something awful. On one hand, the cosmetic overhaul to the game’s engine was a welcome change, and heralded the first time in the C&C universe when outside of the engineer, no two units on either faction look the same. This unprecedented feat of uniqueness in C&C was welcome, as it fully captured what the world would look like in an alternative future where the earth was being consumed by some strange element—Tiberium—complete with ostentatious wardrobes, robots, and cyborgs. Unfortunately, the units themselves were not properly balanced, especially for the GDI side.
All wheeled (or treaded) offensive armor on the GDI side were replaced by bi-pedal machines or hovercraft. When TS came out, I was still heavily playing MechWarrior, so when I saw in magazines that GDI’s Wolveriene is practically a clone of the Mad Dog from Mechwarrior, while the Titan was of more original design. Neither were actually satisfying in combat, however. They were just palette-swapped Humvees and Medium Tanks which move significantly slower. I had near zero satisfaction playing with those units compared to the “equivalent” armor in other games. As for the hovercraft? They don’t matter at all because Nod’s Artillery was so ridiculously imba that they would get shredded before even reaching the back line. The power of the Orca from TD was split into two units—the utterly useless oxymoronic Orca Fighter (which does not shoot any air units) and the Orca Bomber, which is strong but not as strong as the Nod equivalent, the Banshee. The Mammoth MK. II, an apparently homage to the original Mammoth Tank, would be as worthless as the Orca Fighter due to its dreadfully slow speed if it were not for the Orca Carryall to move it around. The Ion Cannon is an improvement over its TD incarnation, yet still weak compared to the Nod nuke. The only satisfying feature that GDI offers in TS is the modular nature structures such as the power plants and Upgrade Center. The concept of Disk Infantry replacing Grenadiers is a nice touch, but not a good enough reason to play the faction. Severely disappointing. Oh, and I can’t remember anything about the GDI FMVs besides James Earl Jones and the guy who plays Reese in Terminator.
Nod on the other hand, good gracious where do I start? Nod Cyborgs are on par with GDI Wolverines. In fact, they are easier to heal by walking them through tiberium. Nod Tick Tanks are not much worse than GDI Titans in terms of armor once they are deployed into the ground. Nod also enjoys the Weed Eater for devastating chemical bombs, the Mobile Repair Vehicle which seemed more appropriate for GDI than Nod, and of course, my favorite, the Stealth Tank. Yet all of these units still pale in comparison to the Nod units that break the game, and I’m not talking about the Harpy, but the Subterranean APC, Subterranean Devil’s Tongue Flame Tank, the Mobile Artillery and the Banshee. In other words,
practically 1/4 of Nod’s arsenal neutralizes anything GDI has to offer. It always seemed absurd to me that GDI had to build concrete in its base to counter Nod’s subterranean units, particularly in the future. I suppose that throughout the years, C&C players such as myself had taken for granted that bases were constructed on grass or clay rather than concrete, and having to buy and place tiles of concrete was something too ridiculous to comprehend. Besides, even the smallest of in-tiled sections of a base or expansion would be vulnerable to subterranean infiltration, and the Flame Tanks were no joke against buildings. Mobile Artillery ensures that no GDI land unit will ever get within sniffing distance of Nod anything, and Banshees and Cyborg Commandos are just overkill, and GDI still had nothing to compare to Nod Obelisks. Nod became one of the most popular “dark” factions in all of video games, and one could tell that Westwood was fond of them. I played through the TS campaigns a couple of times, but it is my least-played game because the chasm between the appeal and effectiveness of GDI units vs Nod units was insurmountable to the point where no patch or expansion like Firestorm could fix.
On an entirely different note, TS amplifies the theme of Kane being more than just a man. In my research for this article, I rediscovered that Kane took an Ion Cannon to the face at the end of TD, and rocks this mask. He was supposed to be dead, and whenever his minions mention his name, everyone in the room responds with “Kane Lives in Death.” When he finally reveals himself to his army, he appears healed, but playing on, gamers discover the truth. Furthermore, he refers to himself as “the messiah,” and says that “Tiberium is the way and the life.” That’s now how I remember reading John 14:6! Kane says other things such as “I have seen the future. It is my destiny to lead all of mankind,” further confirming or incriminating him of plagiarism, if not blasphemy. Nevertheless, dude remains hella charismatic.
Awesome write up Maurice!