It Is Total Annihilation!

After getting Civilization V through Steam, I had started digging around through their store to see what else they might have on hand.  There were some older games, a few that I thought I might like to go back and revisit.  As SynCaine mentioned the other day, the game has changed.

Still, there is a lot to plow through on Steam, so I sat down and made a short list of games I’d like to find there.

At the top of the list was Total Annihilation, probably my favorite RTS of all time.

Of course, I actually own the game already.  I have the main CD and the two expansions, all of which are over 10 years old.  And because they are that old, they are a bit of a pain to install.

You have to install the base game first, then the two expansions.  But you have to install the expansions in the right order or everything gets mucked up, and I can never remember which is the right order.

Then there are patches to go find and units released by Cavedog as post GA downloadable content to track down in order to get the full package.  There used to be a great site that had everything centrally located, but it has been down for a few years.

So I would have gladly dropped some cash to get a Steam installed version that put the whole thing together for me.

However, it was not on Steam.  Frankly none of my list was on Steam, but I’ll get to that in another post.

In digging around though, I did find Total Annihilation over at Stardock.

They too have a Steam-like service and a small library of games, including TA for just $9.99.

$10 was a no-brainer.  I would have paid more.  And I don’t even have to pop the CD in the drive to play.


I gather from the logo and what I have read that Atari ended up in possession of the rights to the game.

And, true to my expectations, the install did lay down all of the content, patches, and what not.

I am not exactly thrilled to have to have installed another Steam-like client on my system.  Stardock’s client, Impulse, isn’t quite as intrusive as Steam, but it also isn’t as polished.  I suppose one pays for the other.

I was also able to dig out my old Stardock account information, so I actually have access to Galactic Civilizations I and II again now as well.

Now I just have to find a site for maps.  There used to be some great maps for the game.

That and an updated AI.

There used to be a vicious AI that would start dropping nukes on you at about the 15 minute mark in a skirmish.

More stuff to find.  Who has a good Total Annihilation site up their sleeve?

13 thoughts on “It Is Total Annihilation!

  1. Bronte

    Have you played a round yet? It was my favorite RTS back in the day as well, and I haven’t touched it in 12 years or so.

    I remember it being a metric ton of fun, but every time I go retro, I am just sorely disappointed. Should I pop in my CD too?

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  2. SynCaine

    I was always disappointed that StarCraft was the dominant RTS when TA was out. TA was just leaps and bounds ahead of SC in just about everything. Then again, Myth 1 and 2 were as well, but in different ways.

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  3. Vok

    Wow, that’s a blast from the past. TA probably remains my favorite RTS of all time. It was a fantastic game. Oh, the LAN parties we used to have with TA…

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  4. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    @Bronte – I have played a couple of quick rounds so far. The default AI on “Hard” isn’t all that difficult even for somebody as out of practice as me. Have to find a better AI.

    @Wraith – The version from Stardock does not appear to have any DRM attached. I haven’t dragged it to another system or anything, but it launches and runs without Impulse being logged in or anything. It is unlike Steam in that regard so far.

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  5. Dagizmo

    Yes, but GOG.com is just a installer, not dependant of any plataform, you just buy, download the installer and there you go

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  6. wraith808

    @wilhelm2451 – the thing to watch out for with impulse is that their launcher is *really* intrusive (and also runs like a pig). I’ve taken it out of my startup, removed it from my registry, and it *still* shows up that impulse now crap with their specials. With steam, it only does that if I actually open steam…

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  7. Dracon

    In 1998-90, I was too busy playing Deadlock II: Shrine Wars by Accolade to appreciate the awesomeness of Total Annihilation. Deadlock has to be one of the most under-appreciated games out there. It is unplayable on most systems now, and no one has developed a new version. Too bad.

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  8. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    @SynCaine – I wouldn’t begrudge StarCraft its place. It was a very different game. It was very tight and well tuned and ran on average systems. Blizzard had enough time with WarCraft and WarCraft II to tinker with and hone the balance and symmetry of their RTS ideals.

    TA was wonderfully huge and sprawling and chaotic with maps and mods and custom units and AIs. And it had a nice, simple way to determine victory: Kill the opposing Commander. You could finesse that and pull off a surprise victory.

    And a great sound track. I may have to go find my original CDs and rip that.

    And it was much more satisfying to play solo against an upgraded AI than StarCraft was against the default AI.

    But TA was also tough on CPUs of the day, didn’t have a compelling story for single player… or much of any story at all as I recall… needed a way to manage mods, and had balance issues.

    Cavedog had to give the Core a special unit designed to stop the Arm flash tank rush, and they took their time doing it. And Arm Brawlers always felt much more effective than the Core gunships.

    The chaotic nature of the game did not lend itself well to something like competative play, which is really what made StarCraft the national game of Korea, which is a big part of why StarCraft became and remained so dominant.

    My top three all time RTS games would be:

    Total Annihilation
    StarCraft
    Age of Empires: Age of Kings

    But the ranking of those three changes depending on my mood.

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  9. SynCaine

    Oh I totally agree that SC was/is a much better competitive game than TA, but back then how much of a factor was that? Out of the millions who bought it, how many new about Korea?

    And now that I think about it, I think b.net and custom maps is what held people in the US with SC. They were just so easy to get, and people made some interesting stuff (far more in WC3 though).

    Feature for feature though I think TA destroys SC, which is why I’m surprised it was not more of a challenger.

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