Hands-on with Command & Conquer: Tiberium Alliances
by Matthew Diener 14/2/2013
Product: Command & Conquer: Tiberium Alliances
Developer: EA Phenomic
Publisher: EA Mobile
Format: Android, iPhone, iPad
Command & Conquer: Tiberium Alliances stormed onto the free-to-play browser gaming grid in May of 2012 and it's making its way to iOS this spring with an Android version to follow.
From what we've seen of the game, it harkens back to the glory days of the Command & Conquer franchise by placing a firm emphasis on strategy and resource gathering.
After giving it a whirl, however, it became abundantly clear that Tiberium Alliances also places a heavy value on teamwork. A lone player will not get very far in the game - but that's all part of its charm. Decree & Destroy
When you first log into Tiberium Alliances, you're placed on the outer periphery of a circular server map. The goal is to work your way into the center with your alliance and – eventually – be able to compete in an endgame raid when it's released.
Like many Command & Conquer titles, you’ll need to mine for Tiberium to build structures while units and vehicles require you to harvest Crystals.
This familiar mechanic is given a modern resource-management twist, however, with the addition timers that gate your building unless you're prepared to wait or avail yourself of some in-app purchases.
As a freemium title with its history in the browser, this is sort of approach is to be expected. Proclaim & Punish
What might not be expected, however, is how Tiberium Alliances handles the strategy element of its gameplay.
You arrange units in waves, which are then dispatched automatically in 10 second intervals. After your attack is launched, the raid becomes a distinctly hands-off affair.
The units will attack automatically and target what they're told to target, but once they're sent marching you will have nothing to do but to sit back and watch the slaughter.
This isn't to say that the strategy element of earlier Command & Conquer titles is missing - coordinating your waves still requires a strong knowledge of the individual unit types and their weaknesses.
For example: if you see a battery of anti-aircraft vehicles by your enemy's Construction Yard and are planning to raze it with bombers, you'll need to send some anti-vehicle units in the wave ahead of your bombers and hope that they're successful.
Otherwise, you're going to have a host of upset pilots and their next of kin to deal with.
Mandate & Massacre
Yet for all your mastery and knowledge, Tiberium Alliances ensures that you're still only ever going to be as good as your friends.
If you stage a brilliant series of raids on Point of Interest Bases and a member of your alliance moves off of a base that you need them to hold, you can easily lose the boosts you earned from your earlier victories.
Thankfully, Tiberium Alliances knows that some players might need a bit of coaching, so it saves every raid as a Battle Report video, which you – or members of your alliance – can freely watch and critique.
This allows routine raids to serve as educational experiences and brings a welcome armchair general feel to the game that mid-'90s RTS veterans will savour.
Tiberium Alliances may not be for every Command & Conquer fan, as it feels more like a tower defence game than an RTS at times, but it will serve quite nicely to those looking for a freemium strategy game to take on with their friends.