Many who are fans of real time strategy games have heard of the Command and Conquer series. The Tiberium Wars story of Command and Conquer has essentially taken on a cult following among gamers who have become enamored with its gameplay, graphics and storyline. Now the next “chapter” has been written by Phenomic Studios that breaks away drastically from the past games. Command and Conquer: Tiberium Alliances is a browser-based MMO of sorts that is similar in style to Farmville minus the lameness. While Alliances is still in the open beta phase of testing, it still is impressively addicting. Even as we speak I have it open in the background should my base require my attention. The game graphics are on par with the first Tiberium Sun games. There is an option to activate WebGL which Phenomic is still experimenting with that should improve the graphic content a bit. However, for whatever reason it would not work on my computer/browser so I cannot speak to the significance of the changes. Audio for Alliances has been taken from past Tiberium Sun games and played on a loop in this one, which gives it a nice touch. Like so many browser based games though, graphics and sounds aren’t what make them addicting. It’s the gameplay itself.
After you sign up and log in to the beta, the game shows you a giant map of the Tiberium World. You are prompted to pick a region of the map as well as which faction you would like to play (NOD or GDI). As far as picking one region over the other, there doesn’t seem to be an advantage of one over the other. Likewise, having only played GDI here, I don’t know if there are distinct advantages/disadvantages of being NOD or GDI. Once you have picked your region and faction, the game walks you through a tutorial program where you learn the basics of the game. In order to build and develop your base and army you need to collect four types of resources. Each of these resources has specific buildings that you must build to aid in the collection of that resource. However, you also have a set limit on how much you can build based on the level of your construction yard, so you must carefully plan out your base in order to extract sufficient amounts of resources. There are also two other resources that can’t be created per se. These two resources are research points and command points. Research points are half of the two things needed to research new vehicles for your army and command points are what you need to send your army out to attack other players and NPC’s called The Forgotten. Research points can only be acquired through doing battle. As you are collecting resources and building a base you can also begin to build base defenses as well as a strike force. Your strike force is what you send into raids against the Forgotten or other players.
Once you have an army that satisfies your requirements, you can select a nearby enemy camp and choose ‘attack’. You then must strategically place your units in a way that would best defeat the enemy. Initiating an attack requires a certain number of command points, so be wary of that as the farther away from your base you are attacking, the more points you will need. The way combat works in Alliances is much like a scroller. The unit you placed moves in a straight line and attacks whatever opposing units are in its way until it expends all ammo, is destroyed or reaches the end of the map. You loot resources for every building and unit of the enemy’s you destroy. Sounds simple enough, but there is at least some basic strategy involved that you will need to get the hang of.
So where does the MMO aspects of this come in you ask? Your base is situated amongst the many, many players in the game as well. As your base grows bigger and you rank up, your territory size expands and affects the size of territories next to you. To prevent that from happening, you can join an alliance of other players that have a large number of members in your region or you can create your own alliance and invite people to join you. Once you develop buildings that allow you to do this, you can coordinate support strikes with another base in your alliance that will come to their aid should they be attacked. All and all, the alliance system is a good way to make friends, expand your territory and create a much more threatening attack force to use against other players.
The only critically lacking aspect of this game is the combat. Command and Conquer was always an RTS. I therefore cannot help but to feel slighted when in combat the only control I have over my units is what order they attack in and what formation. You don’t get to pick targets, movement, etc. It leaves combat rather hollow. However, since this game is so simply structured, there really doesn’t seem to be much more pick apart because there aren’t a lot of technical features in the game. In fact, if you take it for what it is, a basic, browser based game that draws upon the legend and features of the Tiberium Wars story, you will find it providing a pleasant distraction for your day. Should you accept Alliamces for what it is, you will enjoy the game immensely.
Final Rating: 8.5/10
CBR Break Down:
Console Played On: PC
Approximate Time to Completion: Unknown
Game Achievements: There aren’t any.
Recommended Purchase Price: Free