The Total Annihilation Commander Pack: Including Battle Tactics and the Core Contingency

The Total Annihilation Commander Pack: Including Battle Tactics and the Core Contingency
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Introducing the Total Annihilation Commander Pack

Total Annihilation is one of those classic games that just won’t die. Even in an age where Starcraft 2 is all the rage, and the Command and Conquer universe feels almost wholly played out, Total Annihilation still maintains a devoted following. The ultimate expression of TA, bundled in a form that is playable even on the newest Windows operating systems and upgraded to the old Cavedog 3.1 standard, is the Total Annihilation Commander Pack.

The Commander Pack includes both Total Annihilation expansions - the Core Contingency and Battle Tactics. The former expands the original campaign with about twelve missions for each faction in Total Annihilation, the CORE and the ARM. Set after the canonical ARM victory in the original game, the Core Contingency follows the race between the ARM and the CORE in the distant Ocelon system to obtain an ancient artifact of alien origin - CORE to use the artifact to power an implosion device capable of destroying all the galaxy not in a small area within the device, and ARM to prevent this from happening.

Battle Tactics is an interesting expansion contained within the Total Annihilation Commander Pack that does not follow canon or present a particular story, rather it is a set of missions grouped according to length that place a player in various tactical situations. It allows for specialized training with particular unit types and in some of the many possibilities that arise within such a vast and complex game model.

Total Annihilation Commander Pack Units

The units of Total Annihilation were, and largely still are, far more innovative than the selections generally seen in most real time strategy games. The Total Annihilation Commander Pack expands the unit classes available from the Kbot-Vehicle-Aircraft-Ship model of the original TA and adds in Hovercraft, Seaplanes, and for the CORE an experimental unit - the Krogoth.

The original unit types see expanded options that better round out the combat power of each faction. While the CORE’s options were weighted towards vehicles and the ARM’s towards Kbots in the original release of Total Annihilation, the sheer diversity of map types available meant that one faction or the other often dominated a particular map type. The Total Annilation Commander Pack compilation remedies this, adding powerful tier 2 Kbots such as the slow but nigh indestructible Sumo, the long range Morty, and fast Freaker Kbots to the CORE. The ARM receives new Kbots in the form of the Warrior assault Kbot and the Maverick gunslinging Kbot to make sure the edge doesn’t tip in CORE’s favor. In addition, each faction receives a new minelayer units that can scatter cloaked explosive devices across the map.

Purchasing the Total Annihilation Commander Pack

TA Arm Attack from Impulse

There are two prime locations for downloading the Total Annihilation Commander Pack that has been revamped to operate on 64 bit operating systems now standard on new PCs and laptops. Good Old Games offers a simple download of the Commander Pack that contains all the game files that were originally shipped back in the late ’90s. The site downloads are DRM free, so once you purchase the game, its yours to download, install, or otherwise do with what you will.

Another option is the Atari site - Atari appears to retain ownership of the Total Annihilation intellectual property, and has released the game in a version compatible with 64 bit operating systems.

Either way, the Total Annihilation Commander Pack is a worthy addition to any gamer’s collection.

Total Annihilation Map Types: Choose Your Setting for Destruction

Core Contingency Maps

One of the most salient innovations in Total Annihilation is the inclusion of so many landscapes across which the CORE and ARM can do battle. The inclusion of such a variety of map types adds variety to the campaign missions and provides a sense that the battles in the game truly take place across multiple planets both in the Galaxy at large and the Ocelon system in particular.

Total Annihilation map types that ship with the Commander Pack include

  • Earthlike worlds with plenty of foliage, mountains, and oceans - lots of green.
  • Acid maps colored a poisonous green and home to gas bags and pits of corrosive acid.
  • Ice planets, some dominated by oceans and others simply barren icescapes.
  • Crystal zones colored mostly purple and bounded by huge crystal formations.
  • Urban regions within an Earthlike planet covered in ruined buildings and statues.
  • Metal worlds where metal can be harvested from every square inch of the map.
  • Mars maps that are red, mountainous, and subject to meteor showers.
  • Gas planets, unstable and dangerous, where battle is done across rocky mountains.
  • Oceanic worlds completely covered by water and patches of coral.
  • Tropical regions where expansive oceans are broken up by atolls and island chains.
  • Jungle zones covered in thick, nearly impassable vegetation and riven by waterways.
  • Moons lacking an atmosphere where air units are utterly useless.
  • Volcanic planetoids rich in resources where war is waged over cooled basalt.
  • Dry former ocean worlds where the water has been removed, leaving ringed hills.

Total Annihilation Map and Unit Interactions

TA Metal World from Impulse

One of the most compelling aspects of Total Annihilation strategy is the ability to tailor unit production and use to the map at hand. While some RTS titles do promote this sort of thinking and strategy, usually it is in the form of the actual features of the map rather than the terrain of the map itself. Total Annihilation map selection drives the following unit selection like no other game because of the features salient to each map type itself.

As an example, jungle dominated Total Annihilation map options are so crowded with vegetation and segmented by flowing water that the use of vehicles is very nearly impossible- unless you want to spend half the game clearing the jungle while your opponent builds units tailored to the terrain rather than trying to force the opposite. Clever players will immediately adopt a strategy that focuses on hovercraft and aircraft - or in making use of the cramped terrain to set up kill zones and defenses in depth on the way to building a wall of artillery emplacements to bombard the enemy into submission. While using vehicles is not impossible on these maps, it is inadvisable.

Similarly, some of the urban Total Annihilation map selections have few or even no metal patches to provide a constant flow of resources. An economy will have to be sustained by construction units reclaiming the metal from destroyed buildings on the map, which constrains strategy. While you could try to operate normally with lots of metal storage backing your economy, most strategies will tend towards either early rushes with masses of units or defensive orientations until sufficient fusion reactors are built to power a swarm of metal makers.

Total Annihilation Map Favorite Selections

TA Maps are so varied that you can easily choose a particular map based on the type of game you want to play. If you want a short, explosive match there are some smaller maps that feature narrow canyons - possession of which will determine the outcome. For longer, more involved matches there are metal maps composed of huge forts that cannot be penetrated by ground forces, and massive urban maps where resource reclamation options will slowly drive the players together.

Total Annihilation Map Editor

Total Annihilation map options are almost infinite due to the fact that the Commander Pack ships with the Total Annihilation Map Editor, a tool that lets you create whatever landscape you wish to fight over. Some intrepid map makers have even replicated Europe or famous battlegrounds, over which hundreds of units can carry on the endless battle of CORE versus ARM, of consciousness embedded in machine or flesh, for many years to come.