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Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun Firestorm Review
publisher: Westwood Studios
developer: Westwood Studios
P200, 16MB RAM, 16bit High Color SVGA graphics
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Feb 29, 00
|» All About Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun Firestorm on ActionTrip|
The eagerly awaited mourning of the Tiberian Sun did not bring too much light. The opinions were divided: some thought that Westwood did a good job, but most people agreed that it wasn't worth waiting. The disagreement never meant that the gaming population disliked the RTS, it basically broke up because of some unfulfilled promises and desires. The game really wasn't that bad, it's just that in the time of 3D acceleration and strict market laws, one might expect more from a house that initiated the RTS genre in the first place.
Westwood realized it wasted all their trumps, and that it can no longer rely on old fame and strong media campaigns, so after somewhat more than half a year after publishing the controversial title, it released an expansion pack called Firestorm. The main goal of this expansion pack was to retrieve the C&C fans that were disappointed with The Tiberian Sun, and it has good chance of succeeding there.
Firestorm takes up one CD and requires the original Tiberian Sun disks every time you run the game. The good thing is that it contains all the patches, so that the original Tiberian Sun will look a bit different as well when you start it next time (NOD units' power has been reduced, and the multiplayer engine is a bit enhanced).
The story continues onto the end of the GDI campaign. Kane has been neutralized, and the brotherhood weakened by inner struggles. Tiberium, an unknown substance that came down with a meteorite still wreaks terror. It expands uncontrollably, and even though it is immensely useful, it destroys all the life forms in its way. The story gets even more complicated when some Kanes experiments with mutants are revealed. Looking for some data on these in Kane's pyramid, GDI scientists find an alien artifact named Tacitus. Whilst trying to learn something about it the scientists encounter Cabal, NOD central computer, who went berserk and is now turning local population into a cyborg army in attempt to destroy the human race (and prevent the shooting of the new X files episodes). The decapitated NOD (Kane finally rests in peaces) suffers from severe inner struggles for dominance. The key figure General Slavic - better known as the Serbian Wolf got the notion to reactivate the Cabal and use it to eliminate opposing forces. That proved to be a mistake, for we all know that in the future computers will become self-aware and do their best to get rid of the humans.
Regardless of all comments, the storyline has been done rather well. The opposing fractions ill at time sign peace and unite in combat against a common foe that not only stole technology from both sides, but also has some unique, highly inconvenient units. NOD and GDI campaigns happen during the same time and often interlope. For example: GDI rescue mission where they try to evacuate the population from an area with a large number of recorded mutations reappears in the NOD campaign where you will see GDI soldiers defending themselves from mutants and get a logical explanation for the mutations. The campaign ends with coordinated strikes on Cabal mainframe base and each fraction gets its own orders. The game is not completely linear - you can choose if you want to help the engineers in an occupied building or not, sometimes it is not important to complete all the tasks, it is only important to complete the primary mission. Every mission commences and ends with a high quality cinematic. There are eighteen new missions, nine for each side. In my opinion the NOD missions are a bit more interesting.
The gameplay doesn't divert from the original concept. One shouldn't expect anything revolutionary because this is just an expansion pack, rather than a new product. The programmers concentrated on creating a couple of new units and enhancing of the old ones. These will be refreshment in the single player mode, and will show their full power in the multiplayer mode. Habitual tactics will have to adapt to the new circumstances. This aspect of Tiberian Sun benefited a lot.
GDI received Juggernaut's, the equivalent of NOD artillery. Its three cannons provide ideal support to the frontline infantry. Its drawbacks are slow reloading and low bullet immunity. Then, there is also a Mobile EMP cannon that has the same function as the static one. Vehicle factory also became mobile, so that it can provide vehicle manufacture closer to the battlefield. The most interesting novelty are Limpet drones. They burrow themselves like landmines, and when an enemy unit passes over it, they attach themselves to it functioning as a tracking devise and lets you see the terrain around the "marked" unit. When attached to the enemy harvester it will enable you to spy on the enemy base, and when attached to a fighting unit it will slow down the unit and obstruct its fighting abilities. The buildings remained the same, with the addition of the Drop Pad as an add-on to the advanced Tech Center, which lets you send elite troops anywhere on the map (like Para-troopers in Red Alert). I only saw this in the multiplayer mode. Some units have changed their sight and shooting range, and speed.
NOD on the other hand has a mobile stealth generator, which provides a stealth cover even when you lack power. Instead of the mobile factory, NOD has the Fist of NOD, which is basically absolutely the same, apart from the fact that it has a better sounding name. They also have the Limpet drones, and their new multiplaying unit is the Reaper - a spider like cyborg that is fast, cheap and capable of fighting both ground and air units. Only Cabal can control this type of the unit in the single player missions, and it uses them to paralyze the infantry by casting webs on them.
The graphics remained the same, as everything looks absolutely the same as in Tiberium Sun, and you have the same screen resolutions at disposal.
The sound basically comes down to screams, shouts and shooting. It's very good, but then again it always was.
The music is great. It emphasizes the action successfully, and creates a perfect atmosphere for this type of a game.
There are three levels of difficulty but the computer tactics remain the same in all three, it's just that he produces troops slower or faster. The computer is a worthy adversary, it will attack where you are least defended, ambush your troops, send guided missiles where your troops are concentrated, only the air attacks are very predictable. The troops will always find the quickest way to their destination, but they will fail to react if a nearby friendly unit is attacked.
Multiplayer mode supports LAN, Internet, serial cable, direct modem link and the World Domination Tour. The authors obviously wanted to emphasize playing against live opponents. The expansion pack brings us fourteen more multiplayer maps for two to eight players. The scenario generator is very flexible and has a great number of parameters. World Domination Tour is the real treat. The general idea was that players choose their sides and play a Westwood designated map (a part of the world map) against members of the opposing team. At the end of the day, the situation is calculated from the number of victories on each side. This continues until one clan dominates the entire planet, and then it starts all over again. It might work, the only problem being the unequal popularity of GDI and NOD.
Firestorm is a pleasant surprise that appeared surprisingly quickly after the original game. Its main trumps are a good story, an enhanced multiplayer mode and the new units. A product this good can proudly call itself a member of the C&C serial, regardless of the obsolete 2D game environment.
8.8 Very Good
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