In my formative years as a PC gamer, many hours were spent immersed in the world of Command & Conquer. We'd often play C&C to warm up at LAN parties, agreeing on an initial armistice to build up our armies before meeting in the middle of the map for an epic showdown that often slowed the game to a crawl. I was reminded of those days this morning, while sampling EA's new free-to-play take on the franchise, Command & Conquer: Tiberium Alliances.
As I type this, a collection of harvesters is quietly mining the Tiberium fields surrounding my now-neglected base. Impressively, the action is going down inside a Google Chrome window. Tiberium Alliances is browser-based, and unlike a lot of titles in that vein, there's no need to download plugins or additional software to make it work.
The game is currently in an open beta, and I haven't played nearly enough to get a real sense of things. However, there are some pretty key differences between Tiberium Alliances and its forebears, including a decision to decouple one's base from the rest of the map. It seems EA would prefer to keep players sequestered in small areas rather than allowing their compounds to sprawl across the landscape. The combat appears to have been dumbed down quite a bit, as well, with attacks organized in simple waves rather than according to carefully laid waypoints.
Fortunately, Tiberium Alliances isn't the only C&C game being developed. In 2013, we can expect a new chapter in the franchise powered by the Frostbite 2 engine behind Battlefield 3. You can bet that game won't run in a browser—or be free.