Written by  :  Rick Jones (111)
Written on  :  Jan 31, 2001
Rating  :  4.6 Stars4.6 Stars4.6 Stars4.6 Stars4.6 Stars

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The best RTS game ever made. Get it.

The Good

Of all the Real Time Strategy games ever made, Total Annihilation is not just the best; it's miles better, better by exponential degrees. Games like "Starcraft" and "Red Alert" simply don't compare.

The game's campaigns are decent, offering a wide range of battles to practice various aspects of the game, but what makes TA better than any similar game is the amazing depth and balance of the combat system and what it offers to a multiplayer environment.

With expansion packs, (and it's now sold with them), TA offers the player more than 150 unique units and buildings, each of which has a particular role to play in the game. The key to the game, and the genius, is that no one unit can succeed in a major battle on its own. Players must master all units and use them in combined arms strategies for maximum effectiveness. Unlike many RTS games, there's no one juggernaut here; even the mammoth "Krogoth" superunit is helpless if left without supporting arms.

Also unlike most RTS games, the game's different units are actually different. Rather than being just a tradeoff between expensive vs. effective, TA units have wildly varying abilities, and so must work in teams. Some units can mow down ground troops but are helpless against air units; some can lob artillery shells but can't fight in close; all units need specialized radar and jamming support. Going with one type of unit is a sure road to catastrophe.

Multiplayer TA games between evenly matched players are multi-hour festivals of destruction. The game is perfectly balanced, allowing for combat and base development in just the right amounts to keep the pace up without being overwhelming. The construction system is simple but requires planning and attention to overall strategic goals.

The game is easily the most fun and rewarding RTS game available for a PC. The preceding comment might make it sound confusing, but it is not; it's remarkably easy to play, and so the player is given a chance to experiment with a huge variety of tactics and strategies to determine which works best in what situation. Get this game, get some friends who want to play it, and you'll be playing it for years.

The Bad

TA really has no significant weaknesses.

Unfortunately, its creator, Cavedog, seems to be falling apart; they've produced nothing for almost a year (as of Jan. 2001) and so the prospect of more units and maybe even a TA 2 seem thin.

The Bottom Line

The best RTS game on the market. Fun, addicative, challenging, with virtually endless replay value. As a multiplayer game it might be teh best game of ANY type.