Wish I had played this game when I was a child.
The plot, well, do I really need to talk about it? Don't we all know it and believe it to be one of the best video game plots in existence? Tiberian Dawn (This is how I will be calling this game since I think it is its true name) is set during the mid 90s. In 1995 (this is also when the game came out), a meteor falls on earth and hits Italy near the river Tiber. The Meteor contains an alien substance that humanity had never seen before. Dr Mobius, the one who reportedly discovered it, called it Tiberium, due to the vicinity of the impact to the river Tiber. This alien substance appears to be incredibly powerful and is able to mutate terran lifeforms and produce incredible chimical effects. As Dr Mobius himself said, "The possibilities of Tiberium... are limitless". However humanity at this point did not realize how dangerous this substance could have been. Instead of trying to prevent it from spreading all over the globe, humanity is victim of a new "gold flu", as most countries wanted to harvest and use tiberium due to its powers. It was at this point that the Brotherhood of Nod, an ancient and secret society that allegedly predates most of civilization's recorded history. The Brotherhood was largely interested in Tiberium and appeared to possess the technology to harvest tiberium. It was lead by a mysterious man only known as Kane, who called Dr Mobius a liar, claiming that he was in fact the first one to discover tiberium and had called it so as a tribute to the roman emperor Tiberius, and the fact the Brotherhood possessed the technology to harvest tiberium seemed to be the prove that Kane was indeed right. The Brotherhood of Nod claimed to want "justice" in the world, accusing the "rich countries" of the planet to "use" the poor ones and let them live in misery. Tiberium spreads quickly and thrives in temperate to warm conditions. Many of the poorer countries straddling the equatorial regions were hit hardest by the rapidly-spreading substance. The Brotherhood, being anti-Western, tapped into these suddenly-rich nations for substantial control of the Tiberium market. At the time of the First Tiberium War, Nod controlled almost half the world's Tiberium supply at 49%. Compare this with the lackluster 27% controlled by the G8 nations (sponsors of GDI), and the remaining 24% in the hands of unaffiliated nations. When the Brotherhood also started some terrorist attacks on various important European buildings, the Global Defense Initiative, an organization revealed to the public shortly before the arrival of Tiberium and meant to keep the peace in the world, decided that a conflict against the Brotherhood of Nod was inevitable. The Brotherhood first launched an expansive campaign that eventually allowed it to take over most of Africa and launch a second campaign in mainland Europe. It is at this point that GDI moved on the offensive. A new war has begun, but there's something about this war that makes it different from other wars. Wars are usually fought for economical reasons and the causes of this war are no different, however humanity is now fighting for something that is not from earth. Something powerful enough to destroy Earth or to help humanity. Only who controls Tiberium, can decide the fate of the planet.
The game lets you choose between the two warrant factions of the Global Defense Initiative (GDI) and the Brotherhood of Nod. Each campaign has its own set of missions with various objectives. Although most of them require you to just remove enemy presence from the area, some others are more complex and require precise strategies in order to be completed. All missions are also preceeded by some full-motion videos where GDI or Nod commanders will brief you on what you must do and let you understand the overall plot as the game proceeds. This was one of the many things that was revolutionary at the time, as Westwood was the first to feature a lot of videos with real actors.
The game followed some precise and ingeniousw gameplay mechanics: A player would often start with a vehicle called the MCV (Mobile Construction Vehicle). Once deployed by double clicking it, it will unpack into a Construction Yard, which is the heart of all bases. The Construction Yard allows you to build structures that you can place in the nearby of it. The structures follow a precise tech tree: Once you build a certain structure you can access to other type of structures and units. The structures range from Power plants to keep the base efficent, to barracks and war factories to train infantry divisions and build tanks, to refineries to harvest and process tiberium in order to gain resources, to communication centers that allow the access to the game radar. The usual objective of the mission (especially multiplayer) is, as stated already, to destroy all enemy forces. In multiplayer all players will start with an MCV by default (or a mobile command center in case bases are disabled) and some optional starting forces. Other units that are worth mentioning are engineers, units that are quite expensive to train but are able to repair ally buildings and capture enemy structures. The two factions have different units and technologies and therefore tactics: The GDI focuses on heavy units and direct assault, as well as advanced navy (which only apperas in the campaign) and aircraft. The GDI tanks can almost always defeat their Nod counterparts in an one-on-one battle. The GDI also has access to air strikes and the Ion Cannon, a powerful low orbit device able to destroy almost everything on a small area. The Brotherhood of Nod uses lighter vehicles, but these are cheaper than the GDI ones and easier to deploy, allowing Nod tanks to overwhelm GDI ones in most cases. Nod also has advanced defenses that are more effective than the GDI ones, allowing them to better defend themselves against GDI assaults. In the campaign, Nod and GDI will fight eachother but in multiplayer battles a GDI player can also fight against another GDI player or ally with a Nod player.
The multiplayer is in fact another thing that made Tiberian Dawn so revolutionary. The game came with two CDs and as the game manual stated "Two CDs, so you and your friend can destroy each other". For those who had the internet it was possible to play this game online on some specially designed multiplayer maps, increasing greatly the fun one can have with the game. Tiberian Dawn unfortunately did not come with a skirmish mode to play on multiplayer maps against the AI. (This can however be countered by downloading and installing the 1.06br2 patch, which enables a high resolution mode, and a skirmish mode.)
So in the end, what's so special about this game? If we exclude the brilliant gameplay, the excellent plot and the epic multiplayer battles, this game is what truly started the modern RTS genre. WIthout this game, other classics such as Starcraft wouldn't probably exist. The excellent gameplay as well as the historical gameplay made Tiberian Dawn (and the C&C franchise in general) one of the greatest video games in history. And now EA Games also made it a free game available for download! If you haven't tried this game yet, this is a perfect opportunity to play it!