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December 8, 1997

Entertainment

Computer Game Review

  by Rick Brewster
   Total Annihiliation
   With so many real time strategy games saturating the market, it's hard to figure out which ones are good and which ones were hurried out to market for a quick profit. Total Annihilation (TA,) while at its basics a clone of WarCraft 2, at least tosses in enough original elements and great graphics to make it stand out. Combat in TA is very similar to that of WarCraft 2; i.e. build up your resources, crank out units, then go plan and execute an assault against the enemy. If you've ever played WarCraft 2 you'll catch on quickly. Most everything is the same except for a couple of brilliant touches.
  
   First are the graphics. Instead of the usual flat, sprite based 2D animations, TA's units are completely 3D rendered. If a boat is turning around, it will accelerate and turn realistically through all 360 degrees. Other games typically would have the boat going in one direction and then it would just instantly start going the other way. The battlegrounds themselves are completely 3D as well. Hills, valleys, ramps and pits all have tactical advantages or disadvantages which will influence where and what you tell your units to do. In most missions it is usually beneficial to capture the high ground so projectiles have a longer range, and radar towers can see farther.
  
   One other change TA brings to the genre is The Commander. He is the first and fastest construction unit, he's got the biggest gun, and he's also the one you must keep alive at all costs. One brilliant touch in the game is that you can assign multiple orders to a single unit or group of units. You can order the Commander to build a row of Light Laser Units for defense while a construction bot builts metal extractors and K-bot labs to the rear. Then, while the K-bot labs are cranking out units, the Commander can walk around and pick up all the wreckage from previous battles to use as energy and metal resources. Total Annihilation is by far one of the best real-time strategy games released in awhile, and is definitely worth a try.
   Created by: Cavedog Entertainment (www.cavedog.com)
   Publisher: GT Interactive (www.gtinteractive.com)
   Category: Real-time Strategy
   Price: $55
   System Requirements: Pentium 100, 16MB RAM, 35MB Hard Drive, 4X CD-ROM, Win95
   Reccomended: Pentium 150; 32MB RAM
   Highs: nice graphics; some highly original elements; easy to use controls
   Lows: super-skimpy manual; long, drawn out battles; stale music; difficult to distinguish different unit types
   Bottom Line: A great game with great graphics and a sprinkle of originality.
   Content Rating: PGfor lots of explosions
   Star Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars