|Total Annihilation Kingdoms|
|title||Total Annihilation Kingdoms|
|released||June 25, 1999|
|genre||Real-time strategy (RTS)|
|modes||Single player, multiplayer|
|platforms||Microsoft Windows x86|
|requirements||Pentium 233 MHz, 32 MB RAM, Windows 95/98, VGA graphics card, Sound Blaster-compatible sound card, 4x CD-ROM drive, and 80 MB hard-disk space|
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.
The story involves four sibling monarchs in their struggle to dominate the land of Darien: Elsin of Aramon, Lokken of Taros Kirenna of Veruna, and Thirsha of Zhon, 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.
Main article: Chart of TA:K Missions
Total Annihilation: Kingdoms featured a linear single-player campaign of 48 missions. These missions followed a linear path from one mission to the next, each needing to be played before the next could be accessed. If you failed at a mission after trying it, you could skip it and go to the next chapter if you so desired. You did not choose a faction, but instead played the four factions at various times, it switching back and forth between them as the story progressed. Sometimes a faction would not have certain units until a mission in which they gained that technology or ally(Aramon's Cannons, ancient dragons, etc).
In order to accommodate the storyline, some of these missions featured unique units that can not be reproduced during multi-player competitions without outside manipulation of the game. These unique units are likely not intended for multi-player competitions as many of them are unbalanced for that type of gaming experience.
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 per faction 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 nine additional units for TAK over time.
Units and sides
- Main article: List of units for Total Annihilation Kingdoms
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.
- Aramon's monarch Elsin is the most powerful. He can fire lightning, meteor attacks in a straight line, and earthquake wave. He has the ability to raise the dead, allowing him to capture enemy units. He alone could also produce a unique type of ship, the Ark.
- Taros's monarch Lokken is able to use his energy to turn invisible. He is the second strongest monarch. His level two attack is a guided fireball able to move around objects. He can build factories for all three tiers of his faction.
- Veruna's monarch Kirenna is able to swim, and is the third strongest. Her level two attack is a ball of water, able to swerve around corners to hit an enemy.
- Zhon's monarch Thirsha is the weakest. She has the ability to fly, and able to build a tier two defensive structure. Unlike the rest of the monarchs, she has not the ability to build any gates or walls, as her faction does not have such things.
- Creon's monarch, known as "The Sage", is about as strong as Kirenna. His level two attack is a mortar-type cannonball, able to travel above obstacles like walls or cliffs. It takes time to hit a target, and the target can easily move out of the way before it lands. Unlike the other monarchs, he does not any special ability of his own.
- All monarchs could build their faction's tier one defensive structures, and tier one factories.
- Zhon has no buildings to produce its units, but instead relies on three construction units: Beast Handler to build tier one units, Beast Tamers to build tier two units, and Beast Lords to build tier three units. All of these units are mobile, and Beast Handlers and Beast Lords are able to fight.
- Zhon is the only faction that can not build walls or gates, and has only one defensive structure.
- All factions have the ability to produce defensive structures, which vary in firing speed, aiming speed, fire power, range, cost, and some lack the ability to hit anything right next to them, like Bastion or Mage Tower.
As in many games of this type, there are units that are able to turn enemy units to their side.
- Zhon has the flying unit "harpies" to capture other units with.
- Taros has mind mages with the ability to convert a single target, or do an area attack to convert several at once.
- Aramon has its monarch Elsin with the ability to raise the dead fully recovered and converted to his side.
- Veruna and Creon have no means of capturing enemy units.
Those factions with the ability to fly to the mana sites, are able to get energy faster.
- Taros has a flying unit for its advanced builder, the Dark Priest, which is able to build divine lodestones, Fallen Angels, and the Black Dragon, as well as turn corpses into ghouls. It is built at the Temple.
- Zhon's monarch, Thirsha, can fly, and build all tier one Zhon structures as well as a tier 2 defensive structure, the Death Totem.
- Aramon has a flying tier 1 builder, Flying Pegasus, allowing it to place defensive structures at places no ground unit could get to, build trebuchets within range of enemy positions, and get to mana sites quickly to build lodestones. The flying builder is built by an acolyte.
- Aramon has trebuchets, able to fire farther than any other unit in the game. However, trebuchets can only hit land or aquatic units and they are unable to target aerial units.
- Taros is the only side with no artillery units, and thus can not fire over the walls and barriers on some maps. It compensated for this with the tier 1 ghost ships, which are able to carry some types of units through solid objects, and unload them anywhere. It also has the weather witch unit to rain down hailstones at targets, the fire mage unit that can rain down fireballs, and dark angels that can rain down death as well.
- Each side had a powerful ancient flying dragon they could produce ('Golden Dragon' for Aramon, 'Sea Dragon' for Veruna, 'Black Dragon' for Taros, 'Ancient Dragon' for Zhon, 'Aerial Juggernaut' for Creon), but could only have one at a time. Each side also had a flying scout unit ('Spyhawk' for Aramon, 'Parrot' for Veruna, 'Gargoyle' for Taros, 'Bat' for Zhon, 'Barnstormer' for Creon). Aramon has no other flying units capable of fighting at all, and Veruna has only their dirigibles. Zhon has drakes, wisp, and harpies to fight with, and rocs to use as a flying transport. Taros has sky knights, iron beaks, and ghost ships, as well as their flying builders, the dark priests, which are able to attack. Creon has neo-dragons.
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.
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.
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.
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. Finding boredom in his immortal life, Garacaius gave up his immortality and his empire 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 Republic of Creon), as well as hundreds of new maps and entirely new graphics for map tile sets. It also included the latest patch for the game.