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Total Annihilation: Available For Download
Total Annihilation has been acclaimed as an innovative and engrossing real time strategy game since its release in the late 1990's. While it was overshadowed in popularity by the appeal of more fast paced titles like Starcraft or Command and Conquer, Total Annihilation was quickly adopted by the hardcore set of the RTS gaming community due to its three dimensional landscapes, realistic ballistics modeling, and sheer scope of the maps and units in the game.
Since Cavedog, the original publisher of Total Annihilation, closed up shop, obtaining copies of Total Annihilation has been difficult. However, the kind souls at Atari have seen fit to re-release, on Impulse, Total Annihilation. XP, Vista, and Windows 7 users can take advantage of the Impulse download of Total Annihilation, Total Annihilation Core Contingency expansion, and the Battle Tactics expansion as well. Even better for devotees of Total Annihilation, no CD will be needed to play this classic RTS title once the download is complete.
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Total Annihilation: XP, Vista, Windows 7 Compatibility
The original Total Annihilation was released in the era where Windows 98 was brand new, and Windows ME was just around the corner. Gamers throwing the Total Annihilation disc into later systems often had trouble running Total Annihilation. XP systems came with a compatibility mode allowing the operating system to more of less mimic the function of earlier versions of Windows, but this technology was hit or miss at best.
The download of TA from Impulse specifically requires an XP or better operating system. Atari appears to have reworked the title to optimize it for running under later systems, and this dedication to the game is aptly demonstrated in the virtually error free experience offered through the Impulse download. Previously, Total Annihilation XP sessions were often interrupted by critical failures, which made constant saves necessary. After several weeks of hard use in the ARM campaign, I can report having never experienced a crash when running TA after completing the Impulse download.
Another advantage of this incarnation of Total Annihilation is the ability to run the game in windowed mode. While I, being a bit of an obsessive purist when it comes to TA, prefer to see the explosions in as much detail and taking as much space on my monitor as possible, the ability to run the game in windowed mode can be quite convenient. And when you add the fact that this download eliminates the need to run TA with a CD in the drive, its appeal can only increase.
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Total Annihilation: No CD!
The ability to run Total Annihilation with no CD in the drive is one of the highlights of the Impulse download offered by Atari. After a decade, disks may degrade, or be lost, or broken. Even with two separate copies of the base TA discs, prior to discovering the Impulse download I had to be extremely careful not to scratch or otherwise mangle my TA discs, for fear of losing the game forever.
Now, it is a breeze to play Total Annihilation - no CD is required, no cd key is needed, the Atari download comes patched to version 3.1, and it includes both expansions to Total Annihilation. A quick ten dollar purchase, a one GB download, and TA is on the hard drive forever. No fear of the disc going bad, no worries about whether the single player or multi player disc is in the drive. Oh, and did I mention a map editor comes with the game?
There is one disadvantage to relying on this incarnation of Total Annihilation: no CD means none of the musical scores that accompanied the original game. At least in my case, in order to play TA with the original music that shipped with the game, I have to pop in one of the original CDs. This might be abnormal for Impulse downloads of Total Annihilation - XP based systems may not have this problem. And this may also not be an issue for many - Total Annihilation can run fine with some other form of music playing in the background (or no music at all), as running the game takes up little processing power. But for someone who enjoys the classical music scores that accompanied the original game, this is a bit of a disappointment.
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Impulse Download: Total Annihilation Reborn
This oversight is minor relative to the ability to keep a fully digital copy of Total Annihilation on the hard drive. With hundreds of buildings and units, dozens of innovative maps featuring three dimensional terrain, and the ability to download even more maps and units from the many Total Annihilation fan sites out there, This download is an incredible deal - especially as the Core Contingency and Battle Tactics expansions are included.
Bottom line: Available for download for less than ten dollars, Impulse and Atari present the classic RTS, Total Annihilation. XP or better operating systems can run this revamped title, and no CD is required. If you are an old TA gamer looking to replay this true classic, or an RTS gamer who hasn't been exposed to TA in the past, this download of Total Annihilation, no cd required, is worth the pocket change.