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The Total Annihilation Units Compilation Pack

The Total Annihilation Units Compilation Pack or TAUCP is the continuation of the old TAUIP 2.1 mod, resurrected and revitalised, combining old classic units with a swag of brand new ones. Its author, CyberCewl, has returned after a very long absence to update and rejig the original mega unit pack for Total Annihilation. TAUCP's main strength is in large ground based battles with K-Bots, Vehicles and Hovercraft. Aircraft and especially naval units aren't nearly as extensive.

Core's Karganeth fights off a gaggle of Arm Raptors and Thors

Mega mech madness! Late game battle with Core's Karganeth (lower right) fending off a gang of Raptors (left) and Thors (top right).

The pack is, in a word, evil. So naturally I can't recommend it highly enough! You get to build monstrous bases with monstrous economies inhabited by hordes of equally monstrous units. Everything seems to build slightly faster, hit harder and die a lot sooner - simply because your enemies can be just as overpowering as you are. TAUCP is Total Annihilation on PCB, and while you can whip up a mega economy in no time, you can just as easily lose it. While many basic OTA games tick along using basic units, the TAUCP netgames we've played frequently involved advanced and Krogoth level attacks - and in sizeable numbers. Despite the turbo-charged resourcing, you can still stall badly since players are given as many opportunities to overtax their economies as they are in making them big in the first place. Once you've assigned a dozen nano-towers and support builders and ever increasing numbers of units your economy will be stalling in no time, struggling to feed those ravenous factories to force out more powerful weapons sooner. Many TAUCP weapons also need available reserves of energy and metal to fire, so stalling your economy and draining all your storage has the additional burden of silencing many of your better weapons.

Still, this is no idle hackfest of stupidly over-powered units, although adjustments and updates are frequent. So far, the pack has been noticeably improving with each new release. Whenever we've thought we've found something that was simply too good to be true for one side, the other finds a way to knock it off its perch. Despite first appearances as an over the top, over cranked mod, TAUCP plays really well. It makes a nice complement to the UTASP mega mod; while UTASP differentiates between Arm and Core and makes one force distinctive and different to the other, both sides in TAUCP are moreorless equal and wield equivalent units to each other. Well, most of the time, anyway.

Strategy and balance still play critical roles. You still have to think and look after things, although the sheer range of units and strategic options can make this a bit of a juggling act, especially for those unfamiliar with the custom units. Anyone who thinks that this is just a race for the biggest weapons will be in for a rude shock. A fair bit of thought and management is necessary to keep your base and key units safe and sound. With such powerful weaponry roaming the field, anti-radar, cloaking and scouting become absolutely critical. Many of the advanced units have weapon ranges of several game screens; anyone who doesn't keep an eagle eye on their jammer coverage or do the necessary scouting will be wiped out in short order by opponents who make use of strategy and the Targeting Facility. Just throwing your giants units at the opposition simply won't guarantee a win.

Notable features: you get modestly sized nano-towers in the basic build queue that can greatly assist your factories. Both sides sport very similar weapons and build trees, with weight and speed and unit design being the only small differences. Core is still generally heavier and slower than Arm. Each side gets: the nano-towers, radar spoofers; railgun tanks, mobile Berthas, nasty gatling gun tanks of all types, cloaking units, paralyzing units, cloakable spies, the Angels, and a vast assortment of mechs, tanks, hovers, aircraft and naval units of all shapes and sizes.

Arm Mumbo tanks eviscerate attacking K-Bots in seconds...

There's a large range of small and basic units as well as the big ones - and most of them have something to offer. We've yet to find anything that turned out to be completely useless, although we've come across units that first seemed overpowering until their counter was found and then tended not to be used again. Other units that seemed trumped or unusable on one map often had unexpected surprises for us in other situations.

Anyway, go nuts. Each side gets something like half a dozen Krogoth sized mechs each, and a large pool of smaller but no less advanced K-Bots. Arm gets a Krogoth of its own, the Orcone; while Core gets an additional super-Krogoth called the Karganeth, which clocks in at well over double the price of a regular Krogoth and can demolish entire maps' worth of bases if left unchecked. The Karganeth veers close to being a stupidly overpowered unit - one can comfortably stroll through a heavily fortified base and completely vaporise it, whilst whole armies of advanced defenders perish before its onslaught. The only drawback to building on is that it takes forever and uses up enough resources to build an entire army with.

For all the mass of firepower at your disposal, TAUCP rarely degenerates into yawn inducing slugfest - although you can play for those, too! :) There's an entire line of specialised Krogoth-killers and weapons that level the field, plus many of the regular units have been adjusted to deliver Krogoth-specific heavy damage while still behaving normally with regular units. Most notable are the Fire Angel and Ice Angels available for both sides. These guys are intricately detailed and animated Manga-styled K-Bot assassins that can cloak and use their special third weapon - a shooting blue star fired using the DGUN command. Careful use of angels for defence can reduce entire groups of giant Krog class mechs to Krog class metal deposits, since multiple Angel blasts accumulate on top of each other. Additionally, some mega units also tend to explode violently when they die, and chain reactions of exploding monster units can take out entire forces that at first glance looked unstoppable.

This mod received a lot of attention and frequent upgrades before CyberCewl retired from it temporarily to tackle his studies. Given the highly volatile nature of the pack's powerful units, achieving game balance is tricky and a contentious subject amongst its fans. Each version tends to lean in favour of one side over another. Version 2.2 tended to favour Arm, at least from our perspective in human vs human netgames. It can be hard to judge in single player Skirmish AI games, since the AI is incapable of taking advantage of all the cloaking and clever tricks tucked away in the more advanced units.

TAUCP Weblink
This mod has its own comprehensive web site, TAUCP Central. Current version is 2.3. New to this version is the OverLoad Pack, which gives you the option to use TAUCP as an all-ground unit pack or have a stronger naval presence. TAUCP incorporates the latest version of the Switeck Bugfix as a separate downloadable file, which bloats download size but plugs all the loopholes and bugs in the game. Every single release version of TAUCP is also mirrored at the TA Designer's TAUIP site.

Execution and installation is slick and largely bug free, although you should always read all messages as their appear when applying patches or installing the full mod. TAUCP comes with two AI's: an updated version of the Mostly Harmless AI which was bundled with the original TAUIP, and a version of the Banzai AI adapted for this mod. I've installed both TAUCP and UTASP into TA:Mutation and switched between various configurations without anything becoming confused or corrupted. However, I have had problems in the past applying some of TAUCP's update patches in TA:Mutation, but the full install versions have never failed me; the uninstall scripts work cleanly too. The AI's are excellent, and you'll quickly learn which units are the ones to build or run screaming from once the AI's gone and wiped the floor with you a few times.

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Last reformatted Tue, Mar 8 2005 by Lindsay Fleay.