System Requirements
OS: Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows ME, Windows 2000. CPU: 233mhz AMD/Intel processor RAM: 64 MB (64MB recommended) HDD: 150 MB VIDEO: 4MB DirectX 7 compatible graphics card SOUND: DirectX 7 compatible sound card
\'Total Annihilation\' is the perfect RTS for those who don\'t like some of the complexities of other RTS games. The game focuses on battle strategies and tactics and simplifies the research, diplomacy, trade, and micromanaging resource gathering. Instead, you will concentrate on building an army (land, sea, and air) to eventually topple (\'annihilate\') the enemy. The game contains two races (Arm and Core) each with completely different units and each unit looking very distinct within the race. Your main unit is the commander, whose survival is key to the game. If the commander is destroyed, the game typically ends at that point. The two races each have their own 25-mission campaign. That\'s a whopping 50 missions. As the Arm, the Core has come to your planet and each mission you push the Core back until you eventually reach their home planet. The Core\'s missions are the exact opposite story. The missions get generally more difficult (and longer) as you progress, but there are some breathers to give you a rest. Both campaigns are fun and exciting, but lack a significant storyline. All you need to know is you are trying to find your way to the enemy\'s main planet. The game play is so fun, the missing storyline is not a problem. In addition to the single-player missions, there is also a multi-player section. You can play against humans or the computer AI. The game comes with many multi-player maps. There is a nice range of various worlds (mars-like, metal, earth-like, etc), and map styles (water-based, valleys, islands, etc). There are plenty of maps to keep you happy for a long time. There is also a large mapping community that has created new tilesets for completely brand new worlds. The number of maps out there is HUGE. In addition, there have been completely new races created. There is even a Star Wars conversion taking place. All of this adds up to game longevity.


The game play is a blast and requires a lot of strategy. You need to be very wise as to which units work best on a particular map. On larger maps, it is great fun when you are slowly moving forward and gaining ground. You will fight, stop, and setup a mini-camp to build your forces back up. Then move forward once again. You need to decide if you will move all your troops in the same direction, or attack from different angles. Throughout the whole game, you are deciding the best strategy for an attack. Micromanagement has been greatly streamlined, making this a much simpler style of RTS. The resource management system is rather simple. There are two resources: energy and metal. All you need to do is build metal extractors and energy producing machines (solar power generators, wind machines, or water current machines) and then leave them alone. They continue to produce resources without the need to send gathering units, and the resources never run out. It is always a good idea to place some type of laser and an anti-aircraft unit around these structures. Where the difficulty comes in is on maps where metal is scarce. You will need to be very wise on your metal usage. The unit balance is very well done. Most (not all) units in one race have a similar unit in the other, but no two are exactly the same. For example, one may have better armor and the other better weaponry. There are two things I really like about the units and unit balance. First, many of the older Level 1 units are still useful throughout a game. They don\'t suddenly become useless as in many other RTS games. Second, the necessity to create counter-units is essential to winning a game. For example, going in to a battle with only battleships will cause you to be defeated rather quickly. To become a successful commander, you will need to go in with anti-sub units and anti-aircraft units in addition to your battleships. This means you must be well prepared before entering into a battle. In regards to the units, the game comes loaded with around 150 units. Amazingly, Cavedog continued creating new units even AFTER the game was released. These are available off of their website. As stated earlier, the game is mostly focused on building an army. Your whole goal is to build the right assortment of robots, vehicles, ships, and air units along with a good defense of stationary turrets and ballistics. There is a tech tree which contains 2 levels of units and 3 levels of structures. In simplifying the game, there is absolutely no research, which means there are no unit improvements. Units improve aim based on number of kills. Trading and diplomacy, although available in multi-player games, is also a little easier to manage as well. To do this, you ally yourself with another player before the game actually starts. This is actually an area of this game that I have yet to use.


Even though the game is five years old (1997), the graphics are still fairly decent. The landscapes are nicely rendered in full 3D, although they can appear a bit grainy at times. Where the graphics really shine are in the units. Each unit is in 3-D and has separately moving parts. Tanks move one direction while their turret turns separately to track the enemy. Anti-aircraft robots will twist their upper bodies to follow an aircraft. Some ships have a little rotating radar. It\'s a level of detail that is extremely refreshing and makes the gameplay that much more compelling. Like most RTS\'s at the time, you are stuck with a single camera angle and no zoom. There is an opening movie, but that\'s it. There are no cut scenes. Each mission ends with a static picture.


The sound is clean and adds to the game. The mixture of the sounds with the graphics is very well done. One of my favorites is watching the anti-aircraft guns swivel, aim, and then you hear the \'swooooosh\' as it fires off its missile. The original sound track is written by Jeremy Soule and fits the mood of the game quite well. The non-battle music is somewhat dark and somber, and fits well with the early quiet stages of the game. Once you enter into battle, the music picks up with triumphant trumpets and fast-paced, exciting music.


The interface is fairly simple to use as it is similar to most RTS games. Just point and click. One nice option is the ability to switch which mouse button moves units. You can select whether you want the left or right mouse to indicate a move. In addition, there are many shortcut keys to quickly tell units to patrol, repair, guard, etc. The only problem with the interface is the tabbed Build/Orders menus. The Build menu is used to tell construction units what to build. The Orders menu is made up of buttons with unit orders (Patrol, Repair, Guard, etc.). These menus lie on top of each other. If one is showing, you can\'t see the other. So, the problem is, you need to flip back and forth between the orders and build menus. This can get tedious in the later parts of a game when you are continually repairing units and also continuing to build structures. To get around this will require you to learn the shortcut keys for all the Orders.

Christian Perspective

The game is an RTS, so you will be destroying things. As everything in the game is a machine, there is no blood. The name, although drastic sounding, is simply an indication that your goal is to get rid of the enemy. The only real conversation in the game is in the mission briefings, and I don\'t recall any sort of bad language.


The game itself comes with a nice assortment of varying maps that will last you for quite awhile. In addition, the Cavedog website has several additional units and maps for downloading. But the real longevity of the game is greatly due to the user community. The game has had a very strong following through its 5 year lifetime, and it doesn\'t seem to be slowing down. You can download new maps, new units, new A.I., new races, new map tiles, and more. They all add up to making a great game even better. Check out the Star Wars Total Conversion http://www.planetannihilation.com/swta that is currently (2002) in progress for a very cool example of adding more life to the game. I can\'t end this review without also mentioning the two expansion packs for the game, \'Core Contingency\' and \'Battle Tactics\'. CC contains many new units (including a whole new hovercraft tech tree), new worlds, many new multi-player maps, and two new campaigns. CC is an excellent addition to the original game. BT, on the other hand, was a bit strange. The game doesn\'t really offer anything special. It contains many varying missions based on difficulty and approximate playing time. Each mission is supposed to teach you a specific battle tactic or strategy (hence, the title of the game). And yes, I think it does teach you some good strategies, unfortunately, the missions are a bit bland. One good thing, the game does add four new units. I highly recommend this fun, exciting, and addictive game. I believe the strategies and thinking that is required will make it enjoyable for RTS-veterans, while the simplistic and streamlined nature of the game will appeal to the casual gamer. If you are an RTS-veteran, you need to ask yourself if streamlining the game (removing the research, simplifying trading, and diplomacy) is something you will miss. It is very easy to find people selling TA and CC bundled together and I recommend buying them together. My recommendation is to buy the \'Total Annihilation Commander Pack\', which is what I have. It includes all three games (TA, CC, and BT) as well as the Prima Strategy Guide. I have found the strategy guide extremely valuable, and has been referenced many times over the 3 years I have been playing. If you think you might be interested, download the demo which contains the first 3 missions of the game. Although not very involved, they give you a good idea of what the game is like.

Final Ratings

Graphics B Game play A+ Sound A Interface B+ Stability A Offensive Content A-

Overall 93% A-

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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