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Total Annihilation: Kingdoms

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Total Annihilation: Kingdoms or TA:K is a medieval fantasy real time strategy game created and released by Cavedog Entertainment on June 25, 1999. On release, Total Annihilation: Kingdoms reached the top of the weekly game sales chart. While it was the last major title from Cavedog Entertainment, an expansion pack, "The Iron Plague", was released in 2000.

Overview of Differences

Total Annihilation: Kingdoms was the anticipated second installment of the Total Annihilation franchise. Although the game was neither a prequel nor a sequel to the original Total Annihilation game, comparisons between the two games were inevitable. There were numerous thematic and design differences between Total Annihilation and Total Annihilation: Kingdoms.

  • A more in-depth storyline, told with cutscenes between missions just as Total Annihilation had, but with more detail.
  • A change from a futuristic setting to a fantasy setting.
  • Simplified resource-management, with just one resource(mana) instead of two(metal, energy).
  • Four sides at the start, oppose to the original's two, with an expansion pack that added in a fifth.
  • While the original Total Annihilation had players playing through the Core or Arm campaigns separately, Total Annihilation: Kingdoms switched between the four groups, players playing each side, as the levels progressed.
  • Unlike the original Total Annihilation which had most of the units on its two factions virtually the same, other than in appearance, Total Annihilation: Kingdoms had very distinct characteristics between factions.

Story

The story involves four sibling monarchs in their struggle to dominate the land of Darien: Elsin of Aramon, Kirenna of Veruna, Thirsha of Zhon and Lokken of Taros, following the disappearance of their father, Garacaius.

A more detailed story and world was presented in Total Annihilation: Kingdoms than was in Total Annihilation. The missions coincided with the storyline that was presented. In one example, a cutscene describes that the side of Aramon obtains the use of gunpowder. In that mission, the player plays the side of Aramon where using a gunpowder-based unit is critical towards the success of that mission. The game booklet and a detailed HTML atlas of Darien also added further background information to the storyline.

Complexity

Total Annihilation: Kingdoms reduced the number of resource types from the two found in Total Annihilation (Metal and Energy) to one: Mana or magical energy.

Total Annihilation: Kingdoms also opted for fewer units than its predecessor. This was due, in part, to the added complexity of the models, animation and textures required for living creatures (versus the robots and machines of Total Annihilation). Cavedog released thirteen additional units for TAK over time.

Units and sides

Where Total Annihilation had largely parallel technology trees between two similar sides, Total Annihilation: Kingdoms tried a more diversified approach.

There are different categories which highlight just how different the various factions were.

Interface

Total Annihilation: Kingdoms did feature a number of refinements and improvements with its interface design. The design ethic and innovations started with Total Annihilation were expanded, including infinite production queues, non-linear/interruptible queues and a fully playable mini-map mode. Squad designations for groups of units were easier and more intuitive than they were in TA. As in TA, TA:Kingdoms also allowed players to see translucent images of all unbuilt structures in a build queue.

Campaign trails

The idea of a campaign sequence for each side was eliminated in favor of a single linear path that alternates between the four sides: Aramon, Taros, Veruna and Zhon. This allowed the developers to put all of their effort into a single narrative and its associated artwork.

Online Multiplayer

Originally Total Annihilation games were played on Boneyards.

Due to Cavedog's closing, players cannot play online through the game's multiplayer option. In order to play online, a separate client must be used. A commonly used client is GameRanger. This client allows for all the features that Cavedog's original inbuilt client did. Up to 8 players can play together at a time either on teams or against one another. Includes features that make forwarding ports and firewalls unnecessary.

The Iron Plague expansion set

Shortly before Cavedog's collapse, an expansion pack was released titled The Iron Plague. The premise of the sequel continued the storyline of the lost father of magic, Garacaius. Believing that magic was a source of conflict, Garacaius fled his kingdom and founded a new empire based on science and engineering, as opposed to magic. This new empire, Creon, quickly dominated the neighboring provinces and absorbed the knowledge of their conquests. Garacaius himself died, but the elected ruler of Creon (in a steam-powered robotic suit) eventually led the kingdom on a crusade against magic and the magical sibling rulers of Darien. The expansion pack added an entirely new faction to the game (the science and engineering kingdom of Creon), as well as hundreds of new maps and entirely new graphics for map tile sets. It included the newest patch for the game, although anyone could freely download this from the official site.

References


fr:Total Annihilation: Kingdoms

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