Impressions: C&C Tiberium Alliances

By Alec Meer on March 16th, 2012 at 6:00 pm.

Sod this for a game of soldiers, I'm going back to C&C4. Yes, *that* bad.
Hmm.

Back when I lived in Bath, serving out my days on PC Format magazine, my lunch hour was everything to me. Trouble was, to get to anything I wanted to get to – a sandwich shop, a record shop, the comics shop or delightfully tiny ale pub The Old Green Tree I’d have to run The Gauntlet. A narrow, pedestrianised street stretching up from Future Publishing HQ to the city centre (this was before a brand new and enormous faux-Georgian shopping centre was built in that location), it was always guarded by charity workers seeking donations, by clipboard-wielding people conducting spurious marketing surveys, by men with fast food leaflets, by men trying to flog mobile phone contracts, and occasionally by a crazy old codger trying to tell me I was going to hell unless I abandoned booze and sex and commerce. He was the exception – the others impeded me because they saw me as an opportunity to make money.

Every few steps I took, I was stopped. I tried to look grumpy and unapproachable, I pretended to be doing something important on my phone, I refused to make eye contact, I tried to adopt a weary expression that somehow conveyed ‘look, you see me every single day, I’m not a gullible tourist, you must know by now that I’m not easy prey for you.’ I tried, even, too look like I was perfectly mad. It didn’t work. Nothing worked. My journey was a staccato one, frustration and impediment my constant companions. After I while, I gave up and just stayed in the office over lunch.

Tiberium Alliances, the free to play Command & Conquer game, takes me right back to that narrow, pedestrianised street. This awkward 2D strategy/MMO hybrid is not prepared to let me go about my business, and it most certainly is not prepared to let me play a Command & Conquer game. I’ve played it for a few hours across a few days, and will not be returning to it unless I hear it has been substantially altered. Everywhere I turned, it threw up a hand – ‘no sir, I’m afraid I can’t let you do that.’ Not until you’ve upgraded this, but to do that you need to have upgraded this and this, and to do that you need to have gathered enough of this and earned enough of this. Not until it had done its damnedest to take away my time and money. Simply recruiting a unit of infantry felt like a Sisyphean nightmare – population caps, budgetary requirements, the need to build a Command Center and then a Barracks and then upgrade them both…

And all to make one squad of tiny men that rumbled up a vertical-scrolling screen shooting at whatever appeared directly in front of them, before being collected and whisked away by a drop ship after a fixed number of seconds had passed, regardless of what had been achieved in the battle.

Before I could return to that battle, and attempt to wipe out whatever I hadn’t caught in my first, second, third, fourth, fifth pass, I had to wait. And even then, I’d likely to discover that I’d run out of the additional, nebulous and arbitrary resource requirement that dictated whether I could launch an attack or not. Even had I not, I would likely need to repair any damage my units had suffered during the last fight, but with a finite amount of ‘repair time’ allocated to my base on top of the actual cost, this was not a given either.

Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. There is no flow or dynamism to Tiberium Alliances. It’s a stop-start exercise in ever-delayed gratification, doing everything it possibly can to impede progress. It is a Command & Conquer game only in name, in theme and in unit titles and appearances. That’s not the point, though – the point is that in my time with it I found it to be utterly joyless as a strategy game.

It is not about construction and planning, but about eking out a meagre degree of progress around all the many and entirely artificial barriers it throws up. Were I to stick with it, there is a meta-game that involves the invasion of other players’ bases and the defence of your own – that latter requiring, unsurprisingly, yet another type of hard to obtain resource.

That seems so impossibly distant, so far up a deathly long pass of building up my forces and upgrading my structures at a glacial pace, free from adrenaline and exhilaration. If I wait long enough or snap and cough up real money, I can probably build one more ATV. After a week of play, I can probably stage an invasion with 10 units, which will direct themselves across the battlefield in straight vertical line and engage in tedious, sterile plip-plip-plip combat with anything that happens to be waiting in their path. What joy.

I understand how free to play games work, and I understand that they are not necessarily evil. But the good ones exist as games first and foremost, then layer the microtransactions on top. This, to me, seems as though it’s a cynical business model with a game draped around it. It doesn’t offer reward, and then the promise of greater reward if you are willing to spend money to speed things up. It offers only obstacles to progress, and oh so very many of them. At least FarmVille only has about three types of resource, but this has a mountain of numbers to constantly replenish. Spending real money would speed me past some of these obstacles – but on the other side, only more obstacles await. I understand, too, that social network-style games are designed to be dipped in and out of throughout a day or week, not played intensively, but this one just doesn’t seem to offer enough gratification to make that worthwhile. When I log out of it, it vanishes from my mind immediately – incremental stat upgrades aren’t enough to leave me wanting more.

Numbers! Everywhere, numbers! Numbers running out, numbers that depend on each other, numbers forever running out. Action? Strategy? No, only numbers.

I simply cannot see the point of this game. It will not give Command & Conquer fans what they want, and it seems too convoluted and dry to realistically attract a more casual audience. Every time I’ve played it, it’s made me angry, and besieged by a sense of utter futility. Perhaps better, more fulfilling things would await me were I prepared to stick with it and grind on to the point where I could wage ongoing war against other players and rival guilds. I don’t want to – and that’s because the game so far hasn’t offered me any reason to, any excitement, any fulfilment. It’s just stopped me in the street and wasted my time.

Tiberium Alliances is in open beta now.

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127 Comments »

  1. Batolemaeus says:

    :(

    (that, really, is all there is to say)

  2. Brun says:

    Dear Electronic Arts:

    LEARN from this complete and utter failure.

    -Brun

  3. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    In the U.S., “fruit” is a derogatory term for a gay man. It’s pretty mild, to the point that it’s more comic than offensive, but still. I’m assuming that it has a slightly different meaning in England?

    • Alec Meer says:

      Yeah, tends to mean someone a bit nuts, but have changed it to be on the safe side.

      • The_B says:

        It’s pretty much the same in England to some degree aye, but I think the UK is more predisposed to using it to mean ‘a bit nutty’ as well I think partially because of a chocolate bar called ‘Fruit & Nut’ so it’s largely interchangeable.

        It’s a bit of a phrase that was more used by the upper classes too.

        • Drinking with Skeletons says:

          I am intrigued by the sound of this candy bar (that’s the American catch-all term for them, even if they are pure chocolate). What’s in it?

          • Mister Yuck says:

            We sell ‘em at CVS Pharmacy if you’re curious and you have one nearby. Aisle five.

          • LintMan says:

            @Drinking with Skeletons:
            I just bought one of these the other day (here in the US): Cadbury Fruit & Nut. It was pretty good – basically a chocolate bar with raisins and nuts, sort of like a less blocky Chunky Bar.

          • SiHy_ says:

            It’s a chocolate bar with raisins, almonds and hazelnuts suspended within. Very tasty, yum yum.

          • TsunamiWombat says:

            All discussion should shift from this shitty game to delicious candy. I got a chance to try a Yorkie when I worked in a grocers because we carried a selection of imported candy on aisle 2, and I went into a diabetic coma.

          • maktacular says:

            As always, The Simpsons got there 15 years ago when Bart and Lisa experienced first hand the brutality of british choclatey foodstuffs compared to american ones.

            Having said that I don’t think I’ve ever tasted anything quite as silly as chinese sweets. I was picking teeth off the pavement within seconds

          • Was Neurotic says:

            I used to love Hershey bars, which we used to get all the time back in the 80s (in North London).

        • bill says:

          “Nutty as a fruitcake” and “me old fruit” would be the first things to pop into my mind. I think use in a derogative way started later.

          “Alright, me old fruit?” is an example of this as “fruit gum” is translated as meaning “chum” (a friend or acquaintance).

          more time wasted on Wikipedia ;-)

      • Drinking with Skeletons says:

        I wasn’t trying to imply that you were being offensive, but I hadn’t encountered that usage before. I’m aware of some usage differences between different English-speaking regions. For example: anyone from the American South (like me!) who didn’t know about it in advance would be…let’s say taken aback by an English “biscuit.”

        • Brun says:

          British “biscuits” are like crackers right?

          • Drinking with Skeletons says:

            I was always under the impression that they were some kind of cookie. Certainly not something that I would cover in gravy.

          • DiamondDog says:

            No, British biscuits are like biscuits.

          • Brun says:

            “In the United States it is a small, soft, leavened bread, somewhat similar to a scone.”
            “In Commonwealth English, it is a small and hard, often sweet, baked product that would be called either a cookie or a cracker in the United States”

            -From Wikipedia.

          • JB says:

            Yep, our biscuits are what you would probably call a cookie. Except our digestive biscuits, which you’d call a cracker, I think.

            The thing that gets me is that “biscuit” means twice-cooked – which I don’t believe they are now. And “cookie” is from the Dutch (?) for cake, which they’re not. So what should we call them? Delicio-capsules gets my vote.

          • Drinking with Skeletons says:

            @DiamondDog:

            Your recursive non-logic is horrifying.

            @JB:

            What exactly is a “digestive” biscuit? Is it used to settle an upset stomach? Because we eat crackers for that purpose in the US, but also as snacks.

          • nothisispatrick says:

            I thought they were cookies?

          • JB says:

            @Drinking with Skeletons – They were originally marketed as a digestive aid, yes. But I don’t think it was ever actually proven, which is why they can’t be sold as digestives in the US. Mmmmm biscuits.

            I mean, mmmmm delicio-capsules.

          • Drinking with Skeletons says:

            @JB:

            Are you implying that English crackers are capsule sized and/or shaped?

          • DiamondDog says:

            Why would you call a biscuit a cracker if it’s actually a biscuit?

          • Koozer says:

            Digestives are indeed named for their purported properties of settling an upset stomach. It is also a complete myth.

            Now I want a biscuit.

          • Drinking with Skeletons says:

            @DiamondDog:

            ARGH MY BRAIN

          • DiamondDog says:

            It’s a simple question sir!

          • JB says:

            @Drinking with Skeletons – No, just trying to come up with a global name for biscuits.

          • DiamondDog says:

            But, but we already have a global name for biscuits. It’s ‘biscuits’!

          • Drinking with Skeletons says:

            @DiamondDog:

            I’ll stop calling biscuits biscuits when you stop calling cookies biscuits.

          • JB says:

            I just noticed that the “Respond to our gibber” box on the front page is mainly full of our biscuit conversations.

            Yay for biscuits!

          • Brun says:

            Apparently the American equivalent of British “digestive biscuits” is the Graham Cracker.

          • DiamondDog says:

            @Drinking with Skeletons

            Oh, you can’t get me with that. A cookie is a type of biscuit. Like a custard cream.

          • Drinking with Skeletons says:

            @Brun:

            Fascinating, because a graham cracker is not the type of cracker that an American–or any I’ve ever known–would eat for an upset stomach. For our non-American friends: the saltine is the preferred choice, and it’s not used to settle the stomach so much as to provide a non-nauseating buffer against the agony of dry heaving.

          • Shooop says:

            Only on RPS could a game review article be completely sidelined by a discussion about biscuits.

            I love this site.

          • Drinking with Skeletons says:

            @Shooop:

            Biscuits and vomiting.

          • qrter says:

            ‘Cookie’ does come from the Dutch word ‘koekje’, but it does not mean cake – it means exactly the same as a cookie or a biscuit (the UK version). So it’s not that complicated.

          • Koozer says:

            I miss the ‘Spotlight on Biscuit,’ feature, purely for the review of different biscuits the and subsequent discussion inevitably overshadowing whatever TotalBiscuit was on about.

          • Fumarole says:

            I guess Brits don’t eat biscuits & gravy then?

          • JB says:

            @qrter – Thanks for the heads-up, I guess I’d heard wrong =)

            @Koozer – I too miss the biscuit feature. Bring back the biscuits, say we!

            @Fumarole – Eeeeew, no. We’d have Yorkshire puddings and gravy. Tasty.

          • SiHy_ says:

            So what do Americans call ‘crackers’ (such as ‘Jacob’s Cream Crackers’ or Ryvita)?

          • TsunamiWombat says:

            Your Jacobs Creams seem to be largely similar to our Saltines though a bit puffier because we don’t usually leaven our crackers.

          • The Tupper says:

            @ SiHy_

            They’re on sale in the US as “Jacob’s Cream Redneck Bigots”.

          • Phantoon says:

            I’d often wondered how the British could have better dessert snackies than us in the US and have less of an obesity problem.

            Then I remembered their food is often terrible and depressing to even think about. Probably extends to the dessert items, like these “jaffa cakes” I’ve heard so much about. The loathing of food, that is.

          • The Tupper says:

            Oreos: The Devil’s bum-cakes.

            Bugger – does that require a definition of ‘bum’?

          • Sarlix says:

            Tupper: You will probably need to define what bugger means first.

            Incidentally Yanks call a bum a fanny, hence ‘fanny bag’. But we should probably stick to biscuits.

            Biscuits = Cookies

            Candy bar = Chocolate bar

            Candy = Sweets

            Jaffa cake is not a biscuit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaffa_cake

            You sometimes get digestive biscuits in cracker selection boxes. I do not know why for biscuits are not crackers.

            Do not put Marmite on biscuits for it is wrong.

            Do not dunk crackers in tea for it is a crime against nature.

            Do not eat Rich Tea’s for they are the devils work

            Do not listen to Tupper for he is fruity.

            I love Command & Conquer. Why did EA ruin it so badly and make biscuit discussions more interesting than talking about one of the greatest PC franchises ever.

            And what the hell has happened to the RPS reply system? Semi-translucent boxes stacking, always stacking. Never ending lines of asymmetry. Grey to slightly less grey.. Arrrrrrgh

          • Chris D says:

            I maintain that Jaffa Cakes are de facto biscuits.

          • bill says:

            @Phantoon:

            It’s strange the way that americans keep going on about how bad food in the UK is, considering it’s basically exactly the same as food in the US. (but with smaller portion sizes).

            You have Korean food, we can get decent curries, but other than that they are essentially identical.

          • JB says:

            @Chris D – You may maintain that stance. You’re wrong though.

          • Chris D says:

            JB

            I ain’t never seen candles on a Jaffa Cake is all I’m sayin’

          • The Tupper says:

            And, once again, I find myself subjected to tedious and unwarranted abuse at the hands of Mr Sarlix.

            It is as well that he restricts his advice for fellow users of this journal to the subject of confectionery over his undoubtedly paltry skills with regard to warfare (electronic or otherwise). Indeed, without wishing to “name-drop” (as I believe the term goes) I was, only the other day, in my club enjoying luncheon with Sir John St-John Singeon whereupon the topic of Sarlix’s military record came up.

            As is commonly known, Sir John was his erstwhile commander during an undistinguished service with the 23rd Queen’s Own Reamers, and he testifies that whilst the other men in the brigade were indulging in a fondness for crumpet, Sarlix would invariably be discovered furtively enjoying one of Cadbury’s chocolate fingers.

            TT

          • Sarlix says:

            Slander! No such event ever took place, by George!

            It is clear that Le-Tupper has fabricated this whole affair, what. Yes it is true that me and Sir John were stationed together but that is were the similarities end. It is common knowledge amongst the high ranking officers that Squire Sarlix’s crumpet quaffing is that of legendary status!

            Talk of chocolate fingers is worthy of a Court-martial!, what. After doing my own record pulling it has come to light that the military history of Godfrey Smallholding Le-Tupper reads like that of foreign fudge slingers. One would not believe he came for the fair shores of Britannia.

            Once, while stationed for the Royal Scots Guard he reportedly refused to embrace the north sea wind like a man and insisted on wearing ‘comforts’ under his Kilt. Not only that, but when his commanding officer ordered the immediate removal of said garment, one dozen Rich Tea biscuits were seized.

            While this is of a serious nature, fingers were pointed and names were given for the obviously underwhelming storage capacity of Tuppers trouser region. This is in fact where the title of ‘Smallholding’ first originated.

            Now, with this all cleared up and my good name restored I shall be off to the Gentleman’s mess area for brandy and pipes, what.

            SSS

          • Sarlix says:

            @westyfield: Your ability to link ever relevant videos for any given situation leaves me in awe, sir.

            /Salute

          • westyfield says:

            You are too kind, sir.

            /reciprocates.

        • maktacular says:

          I guess the closest (me being “british”) we get to biscuits is delicious stew based cobblers. I definitely don’t tend to rely on those scones rising much.

          • maktacular says:

            I should add I meant biscuits like the southern us’s biscuits.

        • Antsy says:

          Rule of thumb: if it gets soft with age its a biscuit, if it gets hard and dry with age, its a cake.

      • lurkalisk says:

        “Fruit” can also mean something roughly as harmless in the US as well (though not as often). But as we all know, if anything could possibly be taken to mean anything less than glowing praise… Well it’s like Murphy’s law, if someone can be offended, they will be. Intent be damned, thought’s for Nazis, right?

        • Drinking with Skeletons says:

          I’m not the overly sensitive type, but I’ve never heard “fruit” used in reference to a person except to derogatorily call them a homosexual. Like I said, it’s mild, but I thought I’d point it out so that someone else (someone who might not give RPS the benefit of the doubt due to being UK-based) wouldn’t proceed to over-react to what, clearly, is a minor difference in usage.

          • lurkalisk says:

            I suppose the usage has fallen from popularity. The last time I remember hearing it (used that way) was in The Enforcer…

            Anyway, I guess I was just ranting about why it was probably best you did so, and why it’s a sad thing it was necessary.

          • Thermal Ions says:

            Alternatively, I’ve never heard it used that way. Possibly as a result of much Australia language and slang having been inherited from the UK.

      • jrodman says:

        As a gay man, I’ve never heard ‘fruit’ used in a way that I could have considered offensive. I’m sure someone could really try and achieve it, but….

  4. ain says:

    Did anyone not see this coming?

  5. DogKiller says:

    Farmville with tanks?

    • Bluerps says:

      According to the article it is worse than that, as even the people who like FarmVille won’t have fun with this.

      • Brun says:

        While I was reading the article I thought about this. Clearly they’ve tried to make it mechanically complex so it doesn’t come across as a “casual” game (perhaps in an indirect attempt to preserve the game’s C&C heritage). The result of that, however, is that the FarmVille audience (and most of the wider F2P audience) – namely, middle-aged white females – won’t be able to understand it. As a result, this game will appeal to precisely no one – the current F2P audience won’t understand it, and the more traditional gaming audience will know it for the P2W microtransaction utility that it really is.

        • Bob_Bobson says:

          Middle aged white females are no more or less likely to be able to understand a needlessly complex interface than any people of any other age, race or gender and to suggest otherwise manages to neatly hit ageism, sexism and racism, all in one throw away comment. Bravo!

          It might be that gamers that only have experience of casual games will be less likely to take the time and effort to dig into a game with overly obfuscated gameplay than someone with experience of, say, the C&C series, and that might have been what you meant. But think carefully about what you say next time please.

    • Joof says:

      Evony with tanks.

  6. Icarus says:

    The What a Shame Train is now departing from Platform Four.

  7. awickedone says:

    I gave up on this game the first time I saw a video of it, It’s a shame resources are wasted on stuff like this instead of actually making a quality game.

    Hopefully C&C Generals 2 will be able to bring me back into the series, but being powered by Frostbite2 has decreased the odds of mod tools. The life of this game wont be as long as I want it to be because of this and I just hope that quality comes back to this series.

  8. sephiroth says:

    Wow thats allot fo words I was expecting something along the lines of. NO DONT PLAY IT ITS CRAP and that was it. maybe a joke about how the only person who thought this might be good was the EA guy that thought it up then went back to buring money to keep warm and cook food

  9. Moraven says:

    Welcome to the world of of FB and Evoli like browsers games. Really meant to be played 15 minutes at a time, most of them there is no fun in it.

  10. Malawi Frontier Guard says:

    Farmville ruined browser games.

    Back in my day you had 48 hours after you registered to get your shit together, then you got raided. The only social we had was the “lol noob” by your enemy after you lost all of your hard-earned progress, and “farms” were what we called bad players.

    • Batolemaeus says:

      I played world of dungeons for a long while, which is an old school cooperative browsergame with actual gameplay content and strong ties to the pen&paper rpg community.

      I kinda miss those days. No microtransactions, just a freemium model and an ingenius twist: At least one to three characters available to free players were usually needed in groups of a dozen.

      I..I think I might play it again..

  11. JerreyRough says:

    it gets worse. Those numbers are hell when at war with another alliance – especially when they spent almost all of their numbers on defense. Then you can’t do anything to their base unless 5+ same-level players on your alliance are on at the same time and stage attacks one after another.
    This one-man army (whose own alliance is marching their way towards us) then ignores the higher level bases and eliminates all our smaller brethren.

    Its too bad. I was really hoping to eventually get the Kodiak (flying battleship) but I think I’ll quit before then. Oh well.

    You know, the last two C&C games (this and C&C4) both try to replace gameplay with progression elements. I really hope they stop doing this for Generals 2.

    • Aggressor says:

      1. If they spend everything on defense, they’ll lack offense, and since raiding provides for a big part of resources, they’ll be behind you sooner or later.

      2. Yes, alliance coordination is critical.

      3. Your weaker allies should move their bases a bit further back so that the attack costs for the enemy become too high. It’s true though – the game has too little options for defending your allies.

  12. FataMorganaPseudonym says:

    Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. There is no flow or dynamism to Tiberium Alliances. It’s a stop-start exercise in ever-delayed gratification, doing everything it possibly can to impede progress.”

    Is this a Facebook game? What you have described sounds like every Facebook game ever.

  13. Toberoth says:

    Dear god that looks sterile. The first screenshot says it all.

  14. arboreal says:

    I despise smiley, extrovert charity muggers. They prey on my innate politeness.

    • Koozer says:

      Fight them with honesty. It works for me.
      “Could you sign this for ?”
      “No.”
      “Aww, why not?” *puppydog eyes*
      “Because I can’t be bothered and have things to do.”
      *sad face*

      • kud13 says:

        As someone who worked in fundraising for several years, I will share this bit of experience with you:
        fundraisers are trained to stop attempting to pestering you, once they hear the magical words “I am not interested”

        • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

          That sounds pretty important. Maybe they should start handing out folders with that information to educate the public.

          • EthZee says:

            I did try once to hand out this information to people in public. But everyone said they weren’t interested.

      • NathanH says:

        “Sorry, I am a greedy Tory” and “Sorry, some of us have jobs to go to” usually surprise them long enough to make a quick escape.

    • bill says:

      It’s also good to collect stickers. If you get a sticker from that particular charity then they won’t pester you again. If you give a little to each charity and keep an inventory of stickers on the inside of your jacket, you can just whip out the one you need for that day.

      It’s like an Immunity from Fire charm.

  15. Vraptor117 says:

    EA will not stop raping the C&C corpse. God damn them.

  16. Aggressor says:

    It’s true that Tiberium Alliances isn’t that much of a good game, but I still find most of Alec’s assertions overly dramatic, pointless, or downright wrong.

    First of all, yes, the game has restrictions and requirements, but their only problem right now might be a bit of redundancy – you could well do without energy and maybe money, but I understand why they put money in: to combine the resources from both base building and combat into the requirements for research. Other than that, calling them “arbitrary” and “nebulous” is the same as calling Dune 2′s spice resource pointless. Well, what do you know, you can’t build 583645 tanks right away, who would have thought! Secondly, there aren’t really that many restrictions – games like Heroes of Might & Magic usually have more than that. Are those also nebulous and arbitrary?!

    Moreover, I really don’t know what to think of this: “Simply recruiting a unit of infantry felt like a Sisyphean nightmare – population caps, budgetary requirements, the need to build a Command Center and then a Barracks and then upgrade them both…” I never, ever had problems discerning what the requirements were and what I needed to do. Ever.

    And all to make one squad of tiny men that rumbled up … Nonsense. It takes like two minutes to set up a base and have your units attack the Forgotten camp. Ok, three minutes, if you’re a little on a “slow” side.

    There is no flow or dynamism to Tiberium Alliances. It’s a stop-start exercise in ever-delayed gratification God, I don’t even know where to start. Yes, the gameplay dynamics are different to classic single-player RTSs. It’s because it’s a f2p online game, and those have different mechanics. Get used to it. They’re not meant to be played in prolonged sessions, but in short sessions with prolonged breaks (at the start; it gets different later on when you have to invest more and more time). Get used to it. I understand you may not like it and that’s perfectly fine, but here you’re bashing the mechanism because you don’t understand it, not because it was bad.

    It is not about construction and planning … Oh, but yes it is. Stating the contrary tells me you haven’t played it nearly enough to even grasp the basics. If any, than these f2p games are pure min/max systems, where you need to carefully plan and maximize resource potential.

    Not to mention the fact that the game only really gets going when you’re a part of a huge alliance that needs to wrestle with competing alliances for resources. There, you need to coordinate with your teammates well or you’re toast. And that kind of matches really only start, like, one month into the game. One. Month.

    Yes, the game has many problems, foremost it’s purely pay-to-win, as muh as it can be. It’s also full of bugs and combat AI desperately needs work. But I’ve still had some memorable moments with it. It doesn’t deserve the bashing it got here.

    • JB says:

      Point one: “Yes, the game has many problems, foremost it’s purely pay-to-win, as muh as it can be. It’s also full of bugs and combat AI desperately needs work.”

      Point two: “It doesn’t deserve the bashing it got here” (Please refer to point one)

      • Aggressor says:

        I wouldn’t really mind if this game never came out, but it’s being criticized here mostly for the wrong reasons. I thought I’ve made that clear enough.

    • BooleanBob says:

      Reading this piece reminded me of reading this piece. Then I spent 30 minutes looking for it, because a search for the word ‘Travian’ misses it and because I’m far too stupid to do a separate search for the tag ‘Travian’.

      Also, doing a search for the word ‘Travian’ apparently now finds it no problem. Sob.

      And now I’ve forgotten what I was going to say, but I’ll be damned if after all that I’m not going to link to the piece anyway.

      The older parts of the site look a bit shabby on Firefox. The start of the articles wraps up along the header bar, over the top of the reddit thingamywotsit.

    • Consumatopia says:

      I never, ever had problems discerning what the requirements were and what I needed to do. Ever.

      Sisyphus never had trouble figuring out where he was supposed to push the boulder.

      I guess he did have to push it longer than One. Month. Still too long for me, though.

      Yes, the gameplay dynamics are different to classic single-player RTSs. It’s because it’s a f2p online game, and those have different mechanics. Get used to it. They’re not meant to be played in prolonged sessions, but in short sessions with prolonged breaks (at the start; it gets different later on when you have to invest more and more time). Get used to it. I understand you may not like it and that’s perfectly fine, but here you’re bashing the mechanism because you don’t understand it, not because it was bad.

      Obviously, those classic RTS’s were multiplayer. I assume you mean that this new multiplayer game is persistent, asynchronous and massively multiplayer. And, fair enough, that sort of game must play by a different set of rules–you can’t let me log on as a fresh new player, spend an hour raising an army, and spend all night conquering the world while everyone else is sleeping.

      But there’s a difference between limits designed to maintain balance among players, and limits designed to make the game sufficiently tedious to make an f2p business model profitable. Just because something is free doesn’t make it fun. If you’re limiting me because of player balance, that’s par for the course, but if you’re just putting obstacles in my way to entice me to pay to avoid them, that’s bad game design and it deserves to be bashed whether it’s f2p or not. And it sounds like the latter is the case–even you admit that the resource requirements are redundant.

      Screw “Get used to it.”–if something sucks, the right solution is to avoid it and point it out to others, not to just keep handing over time and money. Let developers get used to that.

      • Aggressor says:

        As I said, I fully agree that this game is shoving the pay-to-win model down your throat way too openly. But I still object to labeling the mechanics as bad and tedious because of it, when it’s nowhere near the truth. I never found Tiberium Alliances tedious – the only instance maybe being the target combat lockdown, where you need to wait about half a minute to attack again. But I understand why that one has to be in place.

        I’ll say it again: yes, the game has problems and I too resent this Facebook-like f2p model, that has this big huge top shop commercial vibe to it. But Alex’s assertions make it look like the game itself, mechanics-wise, is a big pile of crap that can’t provide for any fun whatsoever, when this simply is NOT the case.

        I may have reacted a bit hastily in my first post; I’m a games journalist too and I’m alergic to this kind of totally bogus assertions.

        • Consumatopia says:

          To be honest, I don’t understand the distinction you’re trying to make. You’ve described a game with redundant, busywork resource requirements that entices you to pay to avoid or accelerate that busywork. You’ve said that matches between alliances of players take an entire month to get into.

          What part of the phrase “bad and tedious mechanics” wouldn’t apply to a game fitting that description? The mechanics of a game includes all the hoop jumping that a business model imposes on a game.

          And for someone trying to make as fine distinctions as you do, I think you should take more care when reading other people’s words. Alec didn’t say he had problems discerning requirements or that it took more than three minutes to make one squad of men. He didn’t call the game “a big pile of crap that can’t provide for any fun whatsoever”, he even said “Perhaps better, more fulfilling things would await me were I prepared to stick with it and grind on to the point where I could wage ongoing war against other players and rival guilds.”

          • Aggressor says:

            Why would that description by itself mean a tedious game? As I asked in the first post: titles from Heroes of Might & Magic series also use a bazillion of resources. By your account, they could very well do with a single one. Or what? There’s another, interesting aspect to having several resources as opposed to having a single one: the impact of paying money for them is less pronounced than it would have been if there was a single resource governing your progress. So in essence, the game is also screwing it’s paying customers: on one hand it tries to squeeze money from you, on the other it tries to make the impact as little as possible so as not to make the pay-for-win mechanics too obvious.

            One month is a huge amount of time when looking from a perspective of old-school RTSes, yes, but not that much when you’re looking from the perspective of a persistent online game.

            It’s obvious that this just isn’t a game that you (or Alec) would find fun. Nothing wrong with that. But you also need to understand that there are people who like it.

            And that’s where we come to Alec’s post: he made an opinionated piece that many will take at face value, when in reality he didn’t put nearly enough time into the game to really grasp the mechanics. We could say it was written in an affection. I strongly dislike articles like that on well-frequented sites, because they are so strongly subjective and at the same time taken by many as credible accounts of a product. When they are not. Pieces like this are why gaming journalism gets it’s “lol journalism” critics.

            Alec didn’t say the game was crap and that he has problems playing it? Oh please, the whole text reeks of negativity, from start to end! And that’s the problem: he may not have said it directly, but many readers will get it that way. Making overly dramatic statements is never good if you wish to tell a balanced opinion.

          • Consumatopia says:

            Let me repeat that description.

            “You’ve described a game with redundant, busywork resource requirements that entices you to pay to avoid or accelerate that busywork. You’ve said that matches between alliances of players take an entire month to get into.”

            Redundant was your word. (You apparently imagine some huge gulf between “redundant” and “arbitrary”). Nothing matching that description could avoid being tedious.

            Heroes of Might & Magic series also use a bazillion of resources. By your account, they could very well do with a single one.

            The number of resources has nothing to do with “my account”–you, yourself, described those resources as “redundant”. The complexity of the game should serve the gameplay, not the business model.

            There’s another, interesting aspect to having several resources as opposed to having a single one: the impact of paying money for them is less pronounced than it would have been if there was a single resource governing your progress. So in essence, the game is also screwing it’s paying customers: on one hand it tries to squeeze money from you, on the other it tries to make the impact as little as possible so as not to make the pay-for-win mechanics too obvious.

            Yeah, this makes things worse, not better. “Pay-to-win” itself is not the game breaker. Pretty much every persistent online game de facto allows players to purchase game items, either from the developer or other players. It need not break a game, or even make things more redundant/tedious–if I pay to make myself 20 times more powerful, 21 free players can gang up and kick my ass.

            What players should look for in f2p games is clarity in exactly what you’re paying for when you pay extra. Free players should be able to understand how much of an advantage premium players have, premium players should understand what they’re getting for their money. On the other hand, if you have a complicated, interlocking set of meta-currencies, then both of those are obscured.

            I absolutely hate that “pay-to-win” phrase–it’s a complete red herring that doesn’t at all get at what’s wrong with so many f2p games. (I prefer “free-to-grind”–the essential problem here is that gameplay is intentionally harmed to suit a business model.)

            But you also need to understand that there are people who like it.

            Well, since you’re gaming journalist, may I suggest that writing an article explaining that would be much more productive than writing rants based on your misinterpretations of other people’s work? There’s a lot of these social games out there–what exactly makes one of them more fun than another, in the eyes of people who like these things? What are the relevant design tradeoffs people need to consider when evaluating these things?

            Oh please, the whole text reeks of negativity, from start to end!

            The dude’s allowed to have an opinion. Just as you insist some people would like it (although you don’t even seem particularly excited about it: “I wouldn’t really mind if this game never came out”) other people will hate it.

  17. Lagwolf says:

    Well said Alec… a tad over-dramatic but not at all inaccurate.

    The game is about as exciting as watching pain dry or grass grow in your browser. And it is obvious they make it so painstakingly slow so that you want to “pay to win”.

  18. Lulzbat says:

    Oh how the mighty have fallen.

  19. Tom Walker says:

    Well, I played it anyway. Because, you know, it’s C&C in a web browser. It’d be rude not to.

    And yeah, I got as far as being promoted for the first time and gave up. It still hadn’t let me go one second without having a “mission” – things like ‘build harvesters’ or ‘upgrade construction centre’. Not really missions at all.

    A far better idea would be Red Alert 2 skirmish mode in a web browser (surely easily possible by now) with a specially adapted form of internet matchmaking.

    I would play that forever.

  20. dontnormally says:

    I’ve had to unsubscribe from their list THREE TIMES.
    They KEEP REMINDING ME ABOUT THIS GAME.
    I DONT WANT IT.

  21. aircool says:

    Hmmm… EA still don’t seem to understand the microtransaction model. Mind you, Battleforge works quite nicely, but that’s actually a very good game to begin with.

  22. kud13 says:

    Did anyone mention yet that a true C&C game would only have one resource–TIBERIUM???????

  23. Gasmask Hero says:

    @JB
    The gravy being referred to here isn’t gravy as we’d know it, it’s more of a thick sauce.

  24. Gap Gen says:

    Face chuggers.

  25. inferno493 says:

    I’m still stuck on biscuits. What would you call a big fluffy buttermilk biscuit in the UK? Also, why do you add an extra “i” to aluminum? Do you still say “Caw Guv’nor!”? So many questions…

    • Chris D says:

      Hmm, let’s see…

      1. We don’t really have them. Closest equivalent would be a dumpling, but they’re usually smaller, more spherical and usually part of a stew or something rather than a separate item.

      2. We have exactly as many i’s as correct spelling requires. If in doubt refer back to the name of the language.

      3. Only when we’re impersonating Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins

    • Sarlix says:

      Dear Inferno: In my opinion you would call a ‘big fluffy buttermilk’ a ‘Malted Milk’. This biscuit fits your description the best.

      Further: Aluminium has two I’s because that is how it is pronounced – Ala-mini-yum and not Aloo-mi-num

      I think that about clears things up.

      • inferno493 says:

        Upon further investigation, I think you could hazard to call it a crumpet. It seems to fit the category, if not the particular class. Luckily you don’t need type ratings for baked goods. As for the alumiNUM debacle, I fear it may come to war! Hopefully this war will not be carried out in a miserable browser based world similar to C&C browser battles. Prepare for annihilation (did I spell that right?)!!

    • bill says:

      Try looking up “aluminUM” on wikipedia and see how far it gets you ;-)

      Both are accepted spellings actually, but “aluminum” is US only English, whereas aluminium is used in most countries.

  26. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    They fatally shot C&C in the back with #4 and RA3 ..
    And now to add insult to injury ..

    RIP Buddy, it was fun way back when ..

  27. fuggles says:

    Agh, sounds like FB Risk : Factions. I love Risk and I love Risk Factions, but you can imagine my surprise when I ran out of reinforcements to deploy, even though by rights I should get some each turn. Oh no, I was entitled to reinforcements, but had run out of reinforcements at home base to deploy and whilst curiously that does make a large degree of sense in the bigger picture of war, in FBRF I have to wait for the men to generate. This is done slowly, for free, or quickly for not.

    I left the game for thirty minutes, by which point my reinforcements had come about and then I deployed them and one. Not going to pay money FBRF, I’m also not going to play a game where we have to pause every thirty minutes for tea and F2P shenanigans.

    Whilst I’m here, RA3 was awesome and the best C&C was the original.

  28. Fishbed says:

    Fellow valorous RPS readers, I think one must sometimes take his own destiny into his hand, and force the course of history: anyone who’s willing to post a reminder saying in substance “PLEASE RPS, FOR LOVE AND PUPPIES SAKE REVIEW WARGAME:EUROPEAN ESCALATION” every time we take the staff red-handed on trying out some damn-ugly bad game instead, please manifest yourself. RPS, help us save W:EE! It is so good, it has British bits in it – and the guy who is saying so is French.

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  30. Nintyuk says:

    I was lucky enough to be in the alpha, and basically It’s a constant grind and all your actions are limited by command points that fill back up at a set rate till your fixed quota of 120 is filled. Meaning you get to play it for about 20mins twice a day. But they have your base producing bonuses that you have to collect as there produced meaning in mid game to get the most out of your resource’s you have to play for 2mins every hour.

    Ohh and If you want to use those mammoth tanks? It’s physically impossible to unlock them in under 2 weeks. So don’t expect to use them until you’ve been playing for several months.

  31. olpolpolpolp says:

    http://lnk.co/ILTHN
    this stuff is very cool

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