Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun

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Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun
Developer(s)Westwood Studios
Publisher(s)Electronic Arts
Producer(s)Brett W. Sperry
Donny Miel
Rade Stojsavljevic
Designer(s)Adam P. Isgreen
Brett W. Sperry
Erik Yeo
Programmer(s)Bret Ambrose
Joseph Bostic
Steve Tall
Artist(s)Tse Cheng Lo
Eric Gooch
Jim May
Composer(s)Frank Klepacki
Jarrid Mendelson
SeriesCommand & Conquer
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows
ReleaseAugust 27, 1999
Genre(s)Real-time strategy
Mode(s)Single player, multiplayer

Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun is a real-time strategy video game developed by Westwood Studios and released in 1999. The main storyline follows the second major war between the Global Defense Initiative (GDI) of the United Nations, and the global terrorist organization known as the Brotherhood of Nod. The story takes place 30 years after the GDI had won the First Tiberium War in Command & Conquer.

As of February 12, 2010, Electronic Arts licensed Tiberian Sun and its expansion pack Firestorm as freeware.[1]


Set in 2030, the plot of Tiberian Sun is a follow-up to the original game Command & Conquer, after the end of which the Nod leader Kane is presumed dead. In Tiberian Sun, Kane resurfaces from his hideout with improved military forces and new Tiberium-enhanced technologies, determined to convert Earth into a Tiberium world. The GDI commander Michael McNeil is tasked with preventing the world from falling into the hands of Nod, this time with the very means of the extraterrestrial Tiberium substance. Meanwhile, Nod commander Anton Slavik must unite a splintered Brotherhood of Nod before joining Kane's fight against GDI. A third faction, The Forgotten, are caught in the middle of this fight and join either side, sometimes as playable and sometimes as non-playable characters.

The game consists of two campaigns following the outcome of Kane dying and Nod destroying the Philadelphia space station.


GDI forces attacking a Nod base.

The gameplay has similar principles to Tiberian Dawn but with newer and upgraded units and structures plus three new types of Tiberium that can be harvested. Tiberian Sun relies heavily on science fiction technologies, and introduces a new isometric game engine featuring varying level terrain to give the impression of a true 3D environment. Dynamic lighting allows for day/night cycles and special effects, such as ion storms. Maps feature cityscapes where units could hide or battle in urban combat. Some buildings and armored units are rendered with voxels, although infantry is still rendered as sprites.[2]

During the campaign, different routes can be chosen, some of which can lead to optional missions that may affect the difficulty of the main mission, or supply the player with additional units and technologies. Tiberian Sun is the last game of the series to offer the split-route feature.

Tiberian Sun features full motion video using traditional cinematic shots, featuring well-known Hollywood actors. Michael Biehn plays GDI commander Michael McNeil, who reports to General James Solomon, played by James Earl Jones. On the side of Nod, Frank Zagarino portrays the commander Anton Slavik, who only lives to follow and enforce every thought of Kane, played by the franchise's cutscene director Joseph D. Kucan. The Forgotten are represented by Christine Steel portraying Umagon who teams up with Michael McNeil throughout their joint fight against Nod, Christopher Winfield portraying Tratos, the visionary Mutant leader, and Nils Allen Stewart portraying Mutant Commando.

Tiberian Sun features a futuristic and ambient soundtrack by Jarrid Mendelson and Frank Klepacki, who composed the signature themes for the movie sequences, as well as the game's musical score with the intention to differ from the original Command & Conquer in order to capture the mood for each mission.[3]


Tiberian Sun was announced after the release of the original Command & Conquer, with a trailer featured on its discs. After Virgin Interactive Entertainment was facing financial difficulties and was selling some of its assets, Electronic Arts acquired Westwood Studios in 1998 and published Tiberian Sun, and had no direct part in its development. Tiberian Sun's development was troubled before and after the acquisition, and was delayed numerous times - first for November 1998,[4] then for spring 1999, then ultimately summer 1999. This resulted in a number of engine and gameplay features being omitted from the game, some of which were later included in Firestorm expansion pack, as well as numerous bugs which have not been fixed even after the patching period.

Several images and references in the Tiberian Sun "rules" file indicate that more features were planned for the release. A former Westwood employee, Adam Isgreen, who was working for Petroglyph Games at the time, elaborated upon them in March and May 2007. Drop-pods were intended to be customizable for GDI before deployment. Lighting was intended to make a huge difference for day/night play, as units spotted by light posts/towers would be susceptible to enemy fire at greater ranges, and in turn would suffer a reduction in their own range ability. Westwood planned the Hunter/Seeker Droid option to support selection of target types, but ultimately the droid was made to attack at random. Developers also didn't have enough time to finalize balanced differences in terrain types.[5]

While art direction and balancing worked out according to plan, during development many other problems occurred. For example, the dynamic battlefield with terrain alteration and forest fires was very ambitious, but had to be reduced as it led to unsolvable path finding problems. Also a "loadout" screen was to be implemented, allowing commanders to pick units to take into battle before missions. The idea did not fit into the final project, so it was cut although fully developed. Other unpolished ideas were kept in leading to a lot of feature creep. The game also had planning troubles in post production. Storage and network requirements for the digitized video didn't meet the demands. The studio was working with professional actors for the first time. Recording started early when plot lines where not fully developed, but also not subject to change as re-recording would be too expensive and interfere with localisation schedules. The game engine's shift to make it look more 3D and destructible bridges took over ten times longer to program as originally estimated. Adding repairable bridges that can also be passed underneath complicated systems such as path-finding, Z-buffering, rendering, unit behavior, and AI.[6] The bridges became a core element that was used excessively in map design.[7]


Frank Klepacki and Jarrid Mendelson's soundtrack was released on CD with only 16 tracks on November 9, 2005 by EA Recordings (E.A.R.S), excluding the five remaining tracks and the Firestorm tracks.[8]


Tiberian Sun – Firestorm cover art.

Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun – Firestorm is an expansion pack to Tiberian Sun developed by Westwood and published by Electronic Arts on March 7, 2000. Firestorm also features single- and multiplayer modes.

Firestorm follows the events as they unfolded in the GDI ending of Tiberian Sun, with its campaigns no longer structured into two competing storylines but consisting of two different narratives over the same series of events. With Nod fractured into feuding warlords following Kane's death, Anton Slavik is determined to keep Kane's ideology alive through the resurrection of Nod's highly advanced artificial intelligence, CABAL (Computer Assisted Biologically Augmented Lifeform). Meanwhile, the Global Defense Initiative continues its ongoing campaign to stop the spread of Tiberium and its monstrous mutations by retrieving the extraterrestrial Tacitus device, and decides to take control of CABAL to help it decode the device (after Nod, under orders from CABAL, assassinated Tratos, leader of the Forgotten and the only other individual on Earth with the knowledge necessary to translate the Tacitus). Unbeknownst to both GDI and Nod, CABAL has two cores and intentionally allows each faction to take possession of one so that it can simultaneously manipulate both factions to do its bidding. After securing the Tacitus, CABAL goes rogue and attempts to conquer the world through the systematic assimilation of human populations into cyborg armies, forcing GDI and Nod to unite temporarily against it. Upon successfully defeating CABAL, GDI is able to recover the Tacitus and finds a large portion of it having already been translated, bringing new hope to combating Tiberium infestation; in the Nod ending, the defeated CABAL appears to merge with the consciousness of a resurrected/recovering Kane.



Tiberian Sun was highly anticipated since the beginning of its development.[citation needed] It was the fastest selling game on the EA games label, selling 1.5 million copies within a month.[citation needed] In the German gaming magazine PC Player issue 01/2000, Tiberian Sun received a special award as "Most Hyped Game in 1999" (the year the game was released).[citation needed] The earlier Command & Conquer games had been commercial successes in Germany, with sales between 500,000 and 700,000 units in the region.[9] Within eight days of release, it received a "Platinum" award from the Verband der Unterhaltungssoftware Deutschland (VUD),[10] indicating sales of at least 200,000 units across Germany, Austria and Switzerland.[11] This performance set records in Germany, according to the VUD.[10] The committee raised it to "Double-Platinum" status (400,000 sales) by the end of June 2000, which made it the third computer game ever to receive the designation.[12] Tiberian Sun sold over 1 million copies by October 12, after having shipped 1.5 million for its launch.[13] It sold 2.4 million before the release of Red Alert 2.[14]

In the United States, Tiberian Sun sold 419,533 copies by the end of 1999,[15] for revenues of $18.62 million.[16] This made it the region's sixth-best-selling and fourth-highest-grossing computer game of 1999.[16] It sold another 283,544 units ($8.08 million) in the country during 2000.[17] In the United Kingdom, it remained the sixth-best-selling computer game of all time by 2006.[18]

Critical reviews[edit]

Aggregate score
GameRankings79.68% (Tiberian Sun)[19]
72.89% (Firestorm)[20]
Review scores
Next Generation3/5 stars[25]
PC Gamer92/100 (Tiberian Sun)[citation needed]
84/100 (Firestorm)[citation needed]

Tiberian Sun was voted #29 in PC Gamer Magazine's Readers All-Time Top 50 Games Poll in the April 2000 issue.[3] rated the game 5/5, and stated: "This game is worth much more than what you pay, because if you look at everything that has been put together in this game, you'll see how truly awesome it is. My point, and bottom line, is that just about anyone can enjoy this game. They may not sit down and play it for hours on end every day like a large number of war gamers will, but they still can watch the movies and play around with the units enough that they'll have fun. I heartily recommend this game to everyone."[26]

Daniel Erickson reviewed the PC version of the game for Next Generation, rating it three stars out of five, and stated that "Westwood has fine tunes Command & Conquer, but that's not enough to please the RTS-crazed gaming public."[25]

GameSpot noted that the new soundtrack is "catchy", and stated that the game is an excellent sequel to the original Command & Conquer.[27]

Despite some of the game's technical issues, many reviewers considered the interactive environment, new graphics, new array of units, new concepts, single-player (story wise) and the popular multi-player to be the significant high-points of Tiberian Sun, and credited it with high rankings.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Davis, Justin (February 29, 2012). "Today's Free Game - Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun". Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  2. ^ "Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun Review -". GameSpot. April 27, 2012.
  3. ^ a b "Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun, trivia". MobyGames. July 20, 2009.
  4. ^ "Renowned Actors James Earl Jones and Michael Biehn to Star in Westwood Studios' Command & Conquer Tiberian Sun CD-ROM -". Westwood Studios. July 31, 1998. Archived from the original on February 6, 2002.
  5. ^ Adam Isgreen (March 19 – May 14, 2007). "Original intentions with Tiberian Sun". Petroglyph. Archived from the original on February 15, 2008.
  6. ^ Rade Stojsavljevic: Postmortem: Westwood Studios' Command and Conquer: Tiberian Sun, April 4, 2000, Gamasutra
  7. ^ Pekka Väänänen: Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun is actually about bridges, August 3, 2014
  8. ^ "C&C Tiberian Sun (Soundtrack)". Last FM. Retrieved August 10, 2014.
  9. ^ Computec (August 13, 2015). "PC.Games.N084.1999.09-fl0n". Retrieved April 9, 2019 – via Internet Archive.
  10. ^ a b "VUD - Sales-Awards August '99" (Press release) (in German). Paderborn: Verband der Unterhaltungssoftware Deutschland. September 10, 1999. Archived from the original on June 23, 2000. Retrieved July 7, 2019.
  11. ^ "VUD Sales Awards: November 2002" (Press release) (in German). Verband der Unterhaltungssoftware Deutschland. Archived from the original on January 10, 2003. Retrieved July 7, 2019.
  12. ^ "VUD Sales Awards: Juni 2000" (Press release) (in German). Verband der Unterhaltungssoftware Deutschland. Archived from the original on February 23, 2003.
  13. ^ "Tiberian Sun Still Commanding". March 2, 2000. Archived from the original on March 2, 2000. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  14. ^ "GameSpot Presents: A New Dawn: Westwood Studios 15th Anniversary". March 6, 2001. Archived from the original on March 6, 2001. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  15. ^ Staff (April 2000). "Shake Your Money-Maker". PC Gamer US. 7 (4): 32.
  16. ^ a b Fudge, James (January 19, 2000). "PC Data Top Selling PC Games for 1999". Computer Games Strategy Plus. Archived from the original on August 17, 2000.
  17. ^ Staff (April 2001). "It's All in the Numbers". PC Gamer. Future US. 8 (4): 40, 41.
  18. ^ Reed, Kristan (May 5, 2006). "2005 UK Sales Review". Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  19. ^ "Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun for PC". Gamerankings. CBS Interactive. Retrieved April 27, 2012.
  20. ^ "Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun – Firestorm". Gamerankings. CBS Interactive. Retrieved April 29, 2012.
  21. ^ Kasavin, Greg (September 1, 2009). "Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun Review". Retrieved April 27, 2012.
  22. ^ Kasavin, Greg (September 1, 2009). "Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun – Firestorm Review". Retrieved April 27, 2012.
  23. ^ Staff, I. G. N. (September 3, 1999). "Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun". Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  24. ^ Staff, I. G. N. (September 3, 1999). "Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun – Firestorm". Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  25. ^ a b Erickson, Daniel (November 1999). "Finals". Next Generation. Vol. 2 no. 3. Imagine Media. p. 123.
  26. ^ "Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun, review".
  27. ^ "Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun, review". GameSpot. September 1, 1999. Archived from the original on March 1, 2009.

External links[edit]