Electronic Arts look to be embracing the Play4Free gaming model. After releasing Battlefield, Need for Speed and Warhammer variations, all play for free, now it is the turn of the all time classic Real Time Strategy game Command & Conquer, it’s back, it’s better than erver, and it’s free.
C&C Tiberium Alliances has recently entered open beta, allowing anyone to sign up and get playing right now. Also adding to the excitement is the addition of Massivley Multi-player Online – MMO – to the new game. Initially battles are limited to 8 players, each Server has enourmous numbers of players in each world. Taking advantage of the web based structure of the game Electronic Arts have taken multi player to the limit, building the game from the outset to enable MMO gaming, allowing millions of players to enjoy the game online simultaneously once the game is fully released.
Developed by EA gaming studio Phenomic C&C is going back to basics, the Play4Free C&C see’s it’s players battling for resources once again, Tiberium along with Blue Crystals are the ultimate energy sources. With multiple bases and many missions to work through Tiberium Aliances will keep you fighting to expand your empire.
According to EA, players will “harvest valuable resources, foster strategic alliances and engage in relentless battles as they strive for world domination.” The game will have in-game news, status feeds and updates to keep you coming back for more, and of course, in-game purchases for faster unit upgrades and such.
The first time you play, after a quick registration, selecting server, choose your side – GDI of course – and starting location you’re away. Quickly working through the tutorial, not too quickly though there is a bit to take in. The game draws you in, locating buildings correctly, upgrading buildings and harvesters. Keep your multi-tasking abilities handy, the new C&C will slowly increase the number of little tasks you need to keep on top of, then just when you feel like its all under control, you’ll get attacked, it’s on.
While Tiberium Aliances C&C has returned to it’s resource management roots there is more than just Tiberium to collect. EA has introduced Crystals, a blue version of the green Tiberium. No special equipment is required for the Crytals, they are collected by the same harvesters and processed in the same refineries. Collection of Crystal is essential for the upgrading and powering of offensive equipment.
Political and co-operative play is encouraged, once your through the initial stages of the tutorial depth continues to be added with research, ungrades, political tactics, agreements between players, even purchasing objects to accelerate leveling up. The learning curve for Tiberium Aliances is fast paced but rewarding, even enjoyable.
Browser based gaming at its best. The graphics are probably closer to the original C&C Red Alert or Dune, than the newer 3D games like Generals. With tile based graphics returning, the game instantly inherits the feel of it’s distant forefathers. The new old style graphics don’t detract from the game play, the opposite is probably true. Playing quickly takes you back to the C&C’s that won our hearts and chewed up hours all those years ago, the original C&C was released in 1995.
Not to say the graphics aren’t sharp, detailed and attractive, they are. The game runs at a smooth 60fps with a good internet connection – don’t get capped – and the little Harvesters have never looked cooler. Everything is highly animated and while the craft and buildings look a little smaller than in previous games they are incredibly detailed. The interface presents a lot of data on screen getting used to the location of the important information doesn’t take long.
Even though it is browser window based you will quickly expand the browser to full screen to give yourself as much game space as possible. The fascination of having a game in a window is quickly overpowered by the need to see as much of the map as possible. There are advantages to the browser gaming world, play it anywhere without installing, no admin rights required. Pause the game and pick up the game on another machine. Being a browser based game most of the game code is actually executed on remote servers, cloud style, which allows the MMO aspects of the game to be easily executed, not something even the commercial C&C’s could do. But there are also downsides, you will always need an internet connection to play, no offline gaming for Tiberium Alliances.
EA lists the compatible Operating Systems as Windows XP, Vista and 7. The game is very light on resources so should even be playable on older machines like netbooks. According to EA’s site the minimum spec for Vista/7 is a single core CPU at 2.2Ghz or better, 1GB of RAM and a Direct X 9.0 video card. Behind the scenes Tiberium Alliances uses the WebGL libraries as its technical foundation. Browser support officially includes Firefox 4.0+, Internet Explorer 9+ and Google Chrome. Other browsers may work as well, but for the best game experience possible EA recommends the use of one of the supported browsers.
Command & Conquer: Tiberium Aliances is available to play now, the servers are filling up fast. With a spooky but atmospheric soundtrack and updated but somehow familiar graphics Tiberium Alliances is undoubtedly the Play4Free game of the year. Phenomic Studios have built an incredible product right into our browsers.
With the perfect balance between new and old Electronic Arts have finally released the Command & Conquer we have been waiting for, and it’s free. Here at Highpants Tiberium Aliances has quickly become our favourite C&C of all time, no matter the model, free or paid. Be warned though, it will drag you in, time will disappear, years could be lost in the process.