Thursday, 16 August 2007
‘Command & Conquer – Tiberium Wars’ – Keith R.A.Decandido (Orbit Books)
Hands up if you’ve never played ‘Command & Conquer’? Oh, looks like it’s just me. Apparently it’s a really great strategy game where futuristic soldiers blast the hell out of each and try to take over the world (but you knew that already). This week I’ve been choosing books that are quite short (as they don’t take up too much room on a packed commuter train), ‘Tiberium Wars’ fitted the bill so ended up making the arduous trek across London with me…
The story of ‘Tiberium Wars’ can be summed up in two words, both of which are found in the title. Tiberium is an alien substance that’s slowly taking over the Earth. Some want to get rid of it while others want to embrace it’s radical potential. Cue loads of gun battles as the heroic 22nd Infantry Division take on the evil Brotherhood of Nod (perhaps the least terrifying name for a terrorist group, ever).
This is a tie-in for the computer game and unfortunately it shows. There is a lot of background information that is clearly intended to fill in the gaps in the game and give the reader/gamer a better picture of the world that these events take place in. While this is great news for a ‘C&C’ fan it’s not so great for the casual reader. There’s a lot of stuff that will only really make sense if you’ve played the game (for example all of the military terminology and ‘name dropping’) and the rest of it gets in the way of what is actually a fast paced and exciting tale of futuristic warfare. The characters are entertaining in a ‘Starship Troopers’ kind of way, loads of bluff camaraderie and ‘gung-ho’ troop movements. For a book that is relatively short (289 pages) you end up getting quite attached to some of the soldiers and feel all the appropriate feelings when they ‘buy the farm’. The journalism ‘sub-plot’ is interesting but fizzles out with no real sense of closure, maybe this will be revived in later books.
‘Tiberium Wars’ is a good quick read for the journey into (and out of) work but, unfortunately, I reckon this is one solely for fans of the game as it seems this is what the book is aimed at. Go play the game first, see if you like it and then (maybe) pick this book up.
Five and a Half out of Ten