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GF! Archival Version Copyright 1995-2004

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by Westwood

Consistent theme,  great multiplayer, terrific audio.

Downs:  Consistent theme, crappy multiplayer registration process.

System Reqs: Pentium-166, 32MB RAM, 200MB disk space, 2MB 16-bit 3D graphics card

It’s back, and it’s better than ever.  The Westwood Studios group has done it again.  They have taken Command & Conquer to the next level by adding the Firestorm expansion pack.  This isn’t just any old expansion either.   It may as well be a whole new game.  Everything has been re-worked and advanced--so take a seat and get ready to pick sides, there is a world full of trouble to be started or stopped.  This, of course, is up to you.

While the theme is anything but original, it is still a major gaming force and the Command & Conquer world is a classic when it comes to RTS.  Like Warcraft II, StarCraft, and C&C Tiberian Sun, C&C Tiberian Sun Firestorm is an ever changing RTS that tests your battle skills, as well as your ability to think on your feet as you battle for survival against other players or your computer controlled opponents.

C&C Tiberian Sun Firestorm pits GDI against NOD in a global battle for domination.  Both sides have been worked over and given some new toys to wreck havoc on their enemies.  Look out for Mobile EMPs, Cyborgs, Limpet Drones and many more.  C&C has been around for so long that just about everyone with a computer has played at least one version or another.  From the original Command & Conquer and Red Alert, little has changed in the Tiberian Sun set as far as controls go.  If you could get everything working in C&C, then you should be fine.

Firestorm contains 18 entirely new missions that will determine the fate of every man, woman, and child on the planet.  The levels vary from quite small to extremely expansive and, as usual, the computer always seems to be building and expanding faster than “humanly” possible.  Like its predecessor, Firestorm contains very detailed and well laid out terrains; great pains were taken to provide vivid and diverse settings.  Everything from bridges, buildings, cars, shrubs, etc. can be found at various points, (even a few civilians will scurry around when you rumble past).  These can provide much needed cover and tactical advantage, but only if you know what to put where.

Weapons and weapon development is still based on a hierarchal system.  Until you build up the base of your NOD/GDI tower you can’t build the weapons of mass destruction.  Once your base is fairly well established, everything runs fairly smoothly, aside from the probing attacks from various other forces.  When starting out, should something happen to your hierarchy while playing, it must be re-built before you can manufacture certain items/weapons.  For that reason alone, it becomes increasingly important to know what you have already built and where it is.  There is nothing worse then being in the middle of a heated battle and hear a pulse blast in the background and have no idea what you just lost until you are looking to build its item.

Missions in Firestorm are pretty standard.  Destroy your enemy without getting yourself killed in the process.  But no one seems to buy these types of games to spend a lot of time playing alone.  This game really shines when you want to play against other people.  Multi-Player RTS is a wonderful thing, and Firestorm delivers in a big way.  An added improvement from Tiberian Sun is the ability to make alliances on the fly.  You can select an ally as soon as you see them.  This makes game play quite a bit easier to manage.  You only have to make decisions like that as they become necessary.  Another thing to always keep in mind before you start playing multi-player is your schedule.  Have a fair amount of time set aside when you join a multi-player game; you will never be done in an hour--its not possible. 

The only problem with the multi-player is that the Westwood Online still needs quite a bit of work; it still isn’t as smooth as Blizzard’s  The game is very playable over a modem connection to the network.  The only problem that I found was the “User Registration”--the whole process is a HUGE pain.  Not only do you have to find a unique user I.D., but you have to come up with an eight character password that cant have any special characters.  It can only have numbers and letters.  Nothing like crying at the computer because you can’t remember the password to go with your Westwood multi-play password.

While you can’t cry to your team-mates online, you can hear your troops wail as they fall in battle.  The sound effects and music that accompany Firestorm are excellent.  The music is extremely quiet by default and provides just a touch of ambiance while you madly construct your fighting force.  The sound of tanks and air-raids, combined with infantry battles is music to the ears.  It is quite realistic, yet not so overbearing that your torn away from what you are doing.  With a decent sound set up you can hear the enemy rush before your waist deep in bodies.

All in all, this is an excellent choice for any RTS fan.  It takes the classic C&C world to the next level and can provide lots and lots of entertainment even after its completed with its excellent multi-player setup.  And the graphics are great.  If you’re still thinking about the original C&C then “you ain’t seen nothing yet”.  This could be the perfect Easter present for that hard to shop for gamer.  Make sure they have C&C Tiberian Sun;  Firestorm is an expansion pack.  Just because it doesn’t play like an expansion doesn’t mean it isn’t one.

--Ben Moore