This RTS, the sequel to Command & Conquer, was developed by Westwood Studios and published by Electronic Arts for the PC in 1999. It is rated T for Teen. It is occasionally known as "Command & Conquer 2: Tiberian Sun," but as the packaging and jewel case don't mention the number "2" anywhere, I haven't mentioned it in the node title.
Welcome back, commander.
This is the third game in the series, and the first direct sequel to Command & Conquer. It is the first entry to use a different graphics engine than the first one, as well. This new engine uses a 3D isometric terrain scheme, with sprite-based units. The engine allows mutatable terrain, an idea which sounds good in theory, but which people found so annoying that the next game in the series, which uses a modified version of this engine, removed the feature. Basically, large weaponry of various sorts, like missiles, artillery, and space-born enegery blasts, can cause actual craters in the ground. This means that often, when a building is destroyed by these various means, the owner of the building cannot rebuild it in the same place.
Other technical improvements include particle trails for various things (like railguns; this is a pretty nifty effect), support for multiple resolutions, and a (moderately useful) random map generator.
Once again, the Global Defense Initiative (GDI), defender of the free world, faces off against the evil Brotherhood of NOD. Either side has their own simultanious campaign, and either side can win. As the GDI commander, your orders are given by one General Soloman (played by none other than James Earl Jones), who operates from an orbiting command station called the Philadelphia. As the battle commander for the Brotherhood, you are lead (as ever) by the evil genius Kane, back from the dead. A third, non-playable faction joins the GDI and NOD: the Forgotten, people mutated by the alien mineral Tiberium.
The game itself is more of the same, with some new things. The C&C series has always followed a pretty specific formula, which involves a specific mix of units split between two teams. Each game will usually mix up which team gets which units. (Red Alert was interesting in that the team with the large tanks was also the team with the heavy anti-tank defensive structure.) This time around, the GDI doesn't have any actual tanks as such, but they do have a variety of mechs which serve the exact same purpose. The Mammoth Tank (the huge, godlike tank that makes an appearance in some form or another in each C&C game) is a little different, too. The GDI get it, so it's not a tank, but a huge four-legged walking mech armed with two super-powerful railguns and some gratutitous anti-air missiles, which is so powerful they can only make one of them at a time. The GDI also get what would be the heavy tank if this were Red Alert (the Titan, a large, two legged mech), and another, smaller, anti-infantry mech. NOD gets more or less their old arsenal: stealth tanks, rocket bikes, etc, and some new things: burrowing flame tanks, tick tanks (which can "deploy" and turn into stationary turrets), and some other new things. None of this, however, is entirely without precedent.
I take that back. There are some things that are completely new for the series, like the "hunter" drones, which charge up after a period of time and then go off to kill something at random (the player has no control over this, but the computer controlled ones always seem to kill exactly what you don't want them to...); NOD's missiles, which can bring swift death to anywhere on the battlefield (though these are very similiar to the nuclear missile superweapon of the previous games, they kill with more precision); or the Firestorm wall, which charges up to let you turn on an indestructable force field so as to defend against things like the hunter drone or NOD's missiles. These are all new, but they're really no more than fluff.
The game is perhaps more balanced than the previous games. The first C&C was hardly the most balanced game ever, and the Soviets in Red Alert could march right over the Allies. The GDI in this game has a more powerful land army (with both more powerful tanks and medics for the infantry), but NOD has some tricks of their own, like the classic Obelisk of Light defensive structure, which can take down even the heaviest of tanks (except perhaps the new Mammoth), and cloaking technology, which can hide an entire base from view (which is even more useful than it sounds; if they can't see you, they can't target you with their ion cannon). And the missiles. NOD's missiles are, quite frankly, evil, and are capable of wounding a player's entire war effort if they don't act to counter them. That said, the GDI is my favorite team, as they have the heavier ground units, which really is what this game is all about.
The game was disappointing when it came out: though the graphics were amazing by the day's standards, the gameplay offered little to nothing new over the previous games. This isn't to say it wasn't praised (which it certainly was): even the lamest of updates, if the update isn't worse than the original, is a good thing. But if Westwood had continued on this path of simply rehashing old ideas, the series would have floundered. Thankfully, they didn't.