Posted Tue, May 15, 2012 by Stow
After the outright disaster that was Command and Conquer 4, I was ready to accept anything from the C&C universe. Then I heard that a subsidiary of Bioware is developing Generals 2, and rolled my eyes. A more dark tale with less of the classic FMV camp? Nonsense!
Then I heard of Tiberium Alliances, and the idea of a web-based game in the universe intrigued me. Obviously it can’t control in real time, and it has to have some gimmicks to allow people to put money into it—it’s free to play after all. So just what makes this game click, or rather, what do you click on?
Starting with a construction yard, your base is a grid-field of resource options and empty plots. Each resource structure has synergy with nearby storage of that particular resource type, and potentially other buildings, so placement is critical when laying out your base. Harvesters no longer need anywhere to return to, and refineries instead function as just a cash generating device since cash and tiberium are now separate resources. Even power and crystals are now collectable, storable resources rather than being alternate money or base powering tools.
All structures are upgradable and unlock additional resource gathering or functionality as they increase in level. Barracks and other unit housing types will increase the repair rate of damaged or destroyed units, and your command center & defense HQ enable higher upgrade levels of both defensive and offensive units. Thus, level of structures is basically everything you invest your primary funds into and is averaged into your ‘base level’, or a rough estimate of your strength.
Their left flank doesn't stand a chance against this formation.
New to the series are a ton of neutral bases, called the Forgotten, that act somewhat like Creeps from Warcraft III. They are relatively passive, randomly defended bases that allow you to use your offensive units for looting and not just fighting other players. They’re your main source of research points, which are critical to unlocking new units and structures.
The actual fighting takes place on a tactical, wavelike scale. Units move forward and will automatically engage targets in range as they approach an enemy base. If a unit is in range of something it is strong against, it will stop and fire until the unit is destroyed, and if not, it will continue moving while attacking it. Defensive units function similarly, in that they will move from side to side to engage hostiles that tey are strong against. You attack in a grid formation, just like your base, with waves of troops arriving every 10 seconds.
Units can only attack so much before they have to recall, so you can’t just clear one tiny alley and barrel through it, since there is a limit of 4 waves. Destroying a construction yard instantly clears and loots the whole base, so it’s often the ultimate goal. If a base is truly tough, you want to take out the defense facility first, which will prevent the base from reparing itself between attacks. Attacks against players are similar, only expect much greater defenses (and offensive retribution!)
Clustering your resource generators in strategic manner will double or triple your resource income over time. Don't just plant them randomly!
Each base you have has a radius of command, and attacking in friendly or allied territory is cheaper than attacking enemy territory. You have a limited amount of attacking points that replenish at a set rate over time, so maximizing your attacks is critical to your profits and research rate. There are several levels of Forgotten bases to attack, and as you approach the middle of the map, the defenses get stronger and the neutral structures you can take over improve in rank.
Since the territory is so vast and expansion so expensive, alliances are critical to prospering in this game. Neutral structures benefit everyone in your alliance and not just yourself, so the team commanding the critical territory will win the war on paper.
Money is power to some extent in this game though, and you can buy resources including attack points with real cash. It’s a bit of a downer to those wanting fair play, but unless someone Is dumping a whole paycheck in here on a regular basis, they won’t gain an insurmountable advantage. One of the nice things you can buy are increased resource package stocks—your harvesters and other buildings will generate packages over time that you can harvest for a resource surge. They max at 2 though normally, and can be hard to collect optimally unless you can log in often.
It’s a fun time waster, and some of the strategy you can pull against defenses using the unit AI is pretty cool. It is pretty hard to play casually though, since you can be pummeled into the dust if you’re not a member of a good alliance before your next login. It might not scratch the C&C itch perfectly, but it’s nice to see the Tiberium-era units again, and not in C&C 4…