Total Annihilation: Core Contingency - Overview of an Excellent Expansion to a Classic RTS title

Total Annihilation: Core Contingency - Overview of an Excellent Expansion to a Classic RTS title
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Total Annihilation Core Contingency: And You Thought the War Was Over.

The canonic ending to the original Total Annihilation story ends with the ARM achieving a final, dramatic victory against their mortal Core enemies. After repelling the Core assault on the ARM homeworld of Empyrrean, the ARM Commander used a chain of space folding “Galactic Gates” to take the war all the way to the Core homeworld: Core Prime, leading to the destruction of Core Central Consciousness and the last surviving Core Commander.

Or so it was thought. Core, being a cognitive powerhouse, covertly dispatched a single Commander unit to lay dormant in a distant star system in case the low probability of an ARM victory were to come about. The Core detected an artifact of immense power in this system, and realized that final victory could be had over its biologically based nemesis by using it to destroy the entire galaxy.

Hearing rumors of this plan, the ARM sends its victorious Commander unit to the distant system to investigate.

New Worlds, New Units, and More Annihilation.

The Total Annihilation Core Contingency disk updates the hard disk installation to include completely new world types and units. The single player campaign consists of the ARM Commander perpetually one step behind its Core counterpart as the latter treks across the star system in search of the galaxy-destroying artifact, and the multiplayer options reflect the new worlds visited by the single player campaign.

Total Annihilation Core Contingency Campaign

The environments tend to force the use of particular unit types. Where Total Annihilation had metal, volcano, tropical, mars like, and earth like worlds - each with its potential to support land, sea, and air combat together - Total Annihilation Core Contingency forces battles on worlds where one or two of the three major unit types are ineffective or crippled. The first world visited is a pure water world, Hydross, with not a land mass in sight. There is a bonus to bringing this type of world into TA: it provided an excuse to create underwater research gathering and floating defense structures. The expansion into the sea adds an entire new element to standard TA strategies.

Beyond the water world are a wide variety of environments: a trembling world where battles are done between the tops of mountains, and aircraft dominate the battlefield. An icy moon with scarce metal resources and large naval zones. And of course, a jungle world riven by waterways that allows the introduction of a whole new class of units: hovercraft.

Hover Your Way to Domination

Hovercraft are an interesting and unusual choice for the TA:CC expansion. They are neither as durable as vehicles nor quite as versatile as Kbots. However, on cramped landscapes where waterways serve as natural barriers, hovercraft are an indispensable addition to the unit roster of Total Annihilation. Core Contingency AI players heavily utilize hovercraft, which means that even on water maps you’ll no longer be able to kick back and tech up to battleships - a hovercraft rush can quickly ruin the day of an unprepared player. And with weapons ranging from anti-aircraft missiles to plasma cannons to rocket launchers, the hovercraft can pack a quick moving, nasty punch.

Less of an addition and more of a tweak to the aerial forces available follows along with the new focus on strategic versatility. Seaplane factories can be built on water, and some of the seaplanes pack quite a punch. Not an entirely original class since they are still air units, the seaplanes are still worthy of mention, and allow for air battles to rage even on the landless water worlds.

Total Annihilation Online - TA:CC Rounds Out the Experience

Core Contingency Maps

The TA map and TA unit additions to the Core Contingency expansion make Total Annihilation Online play even more fun. Hovercraft and seaplanes make even huge water based maps like Seven Islands traversable in the early game. The introduction of interesting maps such as purple crystal worlds, Venus inspired planets covered with pools of corrosive acid that will destroy any metal touching them, and urban maps with few metal patches but lots of metal rich buildings adds immeasurably to the staggering variety of landscapes that can be fought over.

New Structures!

Core Contingency structures make Total Annihilation online play more interesting. The original Total Annihilation was released in a time when dial up internet was still the norm. Because of this, lag was always an issue on Boneyards - the Cavedog run TA online battle site. In fact, a particular exploit made ARM players nearly invincible: The Flash Rush. This technique functioned just like it sounds. ARM player builds a bunch of light tier 1 Flash tanks and attacks. The lag issues meant that a group of Flash units (and Peewee scout Kbots as well) shooting off their fast firing guns would cause such massive lag that they couldn’t be hit by normal defenses.

Krogoth from Impulse

The Core Contingency expansion and update to version 3.1 (not to mention the pace of broadband penetration) puts a stop to this and similar strategies by adding new defensive structures that make such attacks much more difficult to pull off. Pop up turrets firing lasers and plasma cannons were introduced. These weapons would stay underground and experience a defensive boost when not firing, and then pop up to hit foes. And, of course, also added is the Krogoth Gantry - a structure required in order to build Core’s ultimate unit.

Perhaps the most interesting defensive structures are the Targeting Center and the multi-barrel long range artillery cannon. The former, once built, simply makes beyond visual range target acquisition automatic. Instead of having to see a target to shoot at it, this targeting center trades the power output of a fusion reactor to make all units engage any target within weapons range that appears on radar. And the latter structure fires a constant stream - literal stream - of Intimidator/Big Bertha class antimatter rounds across the map. When one is built, most attacks won’t even make it to the outer skirmish lines before being blasted to bits.

Granted, a Total Annihilation online game is likely to end before one of these is built…but when two skilled players are matched up, stalemate may well ensue, and these toys will come out to play.

New Units: Meet Morty and Maverick

Standard units are in no way neglected in the Core Contingency expansion. Even aside from the fact that Cavedog tossed players hovercraft and seaplanes, Total Annihilation Online play benefits from CC unit expansions as well.

Probably the most beloved is the gunslinging Maverick. Not particularly sturdy, the Maverick exemplifies the ARM belief in long range firepower and speed over staying power. Two Fido type cannons allow for more rapid firing than that four legged Kbot could manage, and supplements the Zeus as a perfect escort for mission critical units. Core gets the Sumo - like the Japanese sportsman by the same name, the Sumo is, well, to but it bluntly…BIG. And slow. Very, very slow. The Sumo won’t win any races, but it has distinct advantages: The Sumo is effectively 3-4 Cans lumped together in one terrifyingly strong package. The Core also gets the Morty, an artillery Kbot that can back up Sumos and Cans amazingly well by negating the long standing best strategy to standing up to heavy Core units: get out of their range.

Total Annihilation Online Play with the Core Contingency Expansion

Total Annihilation Online play is simply not the same without both players having the Core Contingency expansion installed. The unit and map additions are well worth the cost. The first time a hundred Morty and Sumo Kbots run into a scratch defensive force of Mavericks skirmishing in front of a Targeting Center backed Vulcan multi barrel antimatter cannon, your jaw might just slip towards the floor.