The series contains examples of the following tropes:
All There in the Manual: A cinematic trailer exists for Earth 2160 that hints at what started the wars that eventually led to the devastation on Earth. Long story short, it seems to have started with some sort of crisis in the Gulf. In 2008, a Soviet flag is seen replacing the one over the Kremlin. Troop movements followed, and culminated in a nuclear attack on some (supposedly American) naval strike groups. A nuclear strike on the Washington Capitol seems to have sealed the deal, and it all went downhill from there...
The cutscenes are from the later World War III: Black Gold game.
The Manual for Earth 2150 however is pretty extensive in explaining the factions, plot and even units however.
Asshole Precursors: The Creators, whose technology is lying all around Sol, and its surrounding star systems. They created the Morphidians as a biological Von Neumann army, then basically left them buried on Mars after they were done, not caring how much damage the species could do in the hands of a Mad Scientist.
Alien Sky: Earth 2160 takes place entirely on other planets.
All Planets Are Earthlike: Completely averted in Earth 2160. All but two of all the planets, moons, asteroids and whatnot encountered are uninhabitable by humans. Of those that are habitable, one planet appears to be mostly covered in deserts, while the other is aptly named Eden.
During the LC campaign, he subverts the units of your UCS ally (if you choose not to side with him).
Amazon Brigade: LC military is almost entirely composed of women. The LC hero in Earth 2150 is male, since he was sent by UCS as part of the alliance.
Apocalypse How: The series occurs after Class 1 with Class X looming on the horizon.
Awesome yet Practical: UCS Plasma weapons deal a whole lot of damage very quickly, and can be fielded within minutes. Being energy weapons, they're absorbed by shields, but the damage and rate of fire is high enough that you'll likely strip those shields off in seconds.
ED lasers vary between this and Awesome, but Impractical, depending on the situation. Lasers can kill unshielded vehicles in the blink of an eye, but they take a lot longer to eat through shields than plasma cannons do, and they're almost useless against structures (because concrete doesn't heat up as well as metal does).
Boring, but Practical: Rocket launchers. Everybody has them, they deal a decent amount of damage, they have large magazines, they can shoot at ground and air targets alike (notably the only other weapon which can do this is the 20mm chaingun, they bypass shields, they can fit on almost all mounts, they rarely miss when upgraded, come in light and heavy versions, and the UCS even gets a light rocket launcher for heavy mounts, which can accept a sub-weapon - including a normal light rocket launcher for twice the amount of rockets.
Bottomless Magazines: Subverted. All units need to be constantly resupplied with ammunition. Only the energy weapons are infinite, but even then they need time to cool down and recharge if overused.
Command And Conquer Economy: Earth 2150 averts this when you build a Headquarters; you can ask the AI do perform managerial work (like research) for you. Earth 2160 throws this out of the window.
Cosmetically Different Sides: The only mechanic that all three sides share is ammunition supply and energy shields. The UCS and ED share base construction and troop production, but the similarities end there. The rest of the gameplay, on the other hand, differ greatly from faction to faction. Even common weapons are used ever so differently that you don't necessarily have a shared style of play.
Then comes Earth 2160. None of the four look equally alike.
Cultural Translation: The Russian version of the game purposely translated ED mission briefings to be more in line with how Russian military works. Also, all sides were given new names to make them sound more neutral than the original: UCS became the Atlantic Union, ED was changed to Euroalliance, and LC became Children of Selene (Selene being the ancient goddess of the moon).
Design It Yourself Equipment: The in-game unit editor makes you able to customize your units by choosing the chassis, shield generator and weapon(s).
2160 adds a few extras like putting in auto-repair instead of shields as well as the option of changing the armor to anti-energy or anti-chemical.
Then there's the 'newone'-cheat...which allows you to freely combine different chassis/buildings and weapons, cross-faction and without caring whether a weapon is actually suited for a chassis and the maximum of weapons that can be stacked. So you can have a Pamir light tank with a Heavy Plasma Canon with another Heavy Plasma Cannon on top with a Heavy Laser on top. Some combinations can actually crash the game. The cheat also allows building buildings underground...
Destructible Projectiles: Rockets, provided somebody has an antimissile somewhere and said rockets are shooting at said somebody.
Easy Logistics: Averted by the ammo resupply requirement, because it's one of the crucial criteria that decides whether a player will use an Energy Weapon or a kineticweapon. Played straight with everything else.
The Empire: Eurasian Dynasty, to the point where the Khan looks like Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars.
Well, when your sociopolitical "hat" is basically combining the worst aspects of Soviet Russia and the Mongolian Khanate... it's enough if we quote the ED recruitment propaganda video:
Enemy Exchange Program: Shooting something with ED ion cannons does electronic damage. Even a single shot can paralyze for a while (indicated by a blue cloud over the unit and the 'Shocked' status) and taking another will put that unit or building out of commission until it's repaired ('Shocked' changes to 'Disabled' and the unit stops regenerating electronic damage). While the unit or building is paralyzed, it can be captured with a repairer (in fact, repairers auto-capture anything paralyzed nearby unless told otherwise). There's no limit as to what can be captured but LC buildings can't be powered once nabbed.
The Moon Project introduces a special weapon whose only purpose is capturing buildings without having to paralyze them; all factions have it.
Earth 2160 did away with this. LC Hackers can reprogram UCS robots, but will require significant amounts of time to bypass UCS software defense mechanisms, which can go into Awesome, but Impractical territory if not used wisely. LC Psionic weapons can also brainwash enemy units, but they have an equal chance of turning them into a crazed, randomly-firing neutral unit as well.
Expansion Pack: Two for Earth 2150. The Moon Project introduced a new campagin and a set of new gameplay features, plus a whole lot of rebalancing. The Lost Souls is, essentially, a mission pack.
Fog of War: Vehicles have more visibility at night when using headlights but are themselves more visible then.
Friendly Fireproof: Units have no problem shooting through each other with no damage. This doesn't apply to superweapons and if your units are shooting at something in the air, you'd better make sure you don't happen to have a building in the way. Especially if it's an AA plasma cannon.
Hollywood Acid: ED chemical weapons in 2160. The anti-ground version is basically a hose the size of a tank turret while the anti-air version is delivered as a missile payload. If you don't happen to have anti-chemical armor, prepare to be massacred.
Homeworld Evacuation: This is the ultimate goal of all three factions, on account of the imminent Earth-Shattering Kaboom. Throughout the campaigns, you not only have to complete missions to cripple your rivals, but stockpile your excess resources in order to build a colony ship to carry you to another world before the countdown expires.
Imported Alien Phlebotinum: Some of the most advanced technology of UCS and LC was reverse-engineered from a UFO at Area 51 and an abandoned alien base on the Moon, respectively.
Instant-Win Condition: In Escape from the Blue Planet, the campaign ends once you provide enough resources, even if you're on a mission.
Inverted in some missions that have... interesting scripting.
In one of Moon Project's LC missions, due to bad scripting: if at any point you ferry all your units back to your main base, even if you have a fully functional base with enough credits to hit the unit limit three times over, it's an instant game over the millisecond the transporter carrying the last unit disappears from the mission area. And no, you don't get any advance warning about this, only the mission failed debrief and the game over movie.
Similarly, the Amazon mission for the ED in 2150 is scripted to fail if at any point there is less cash on the map than needed for the objective. Thing is, only resource fields and your mission area credit pool are counted, the 5,000 credits you can put into the transport aren't. Which means that you might find yourself failing the mission by simply pressing one button.
Invisibility Cloak: The UCS possesses Shadow generators that make all units in range invisible. Then The Moon Project came along and the ED reverse-engineered a stolen copy and built personal versions of their own, resulting in the aptly-named Stealth tanks. Both versions only affect units that turn off their lights.
On the other hand, if you aggro the AI with invisible units too much, it'll randomly select and attack one of them despite the fact it doesn't actually see them (AI units will target the aggressor directly but buildings ignore it). Quite annoying in the Lost Souls ED campaign when the AI keeps killing your experienced Stealth tanks despite the fact that its base is too heavily fortified (and mined, in the case of non-LC bases) for a direct attack.
It's A Small World After All: at the end of Lost Souls, the protagonists state that they have no idea how accurate their space teleporter is and express doubts that it won't dump them out somewhere in the void of outer space, but with the Earth about to fall apart around them, they don't exactly have a choice in the matter. Comes Earth 2160 with no mention of anyone ever having made out of Earth after the three factions have abandoned it, seemingly supporting the idea that the teleporter had indeed malfunctioned or that they were simply Retconned out of existence. Then right in the middle of the UCS campaign, it turns out the teleporter worked quite well... too well, in fact: it massively overshot the intended destination and dumped the survivors into a completely different star system. The very same system the 2160 La Résistance passes through on their way to Eden, just in time to pick up their distress signal and save their hides from an idiotic ED commander.
A Lighter Shade of Grey: The Lunar Corporation starts out this way... but actually getting involved in the conflict rather than watching it unfold from the isolation of the Moon kills that, fast. Earth 2160 drives the point home when LC scientists are confirmed to work on chemical weapons.
Inverted for the Eurasian Dynasty in 2150, which are significantly darker and more evil than the other factions, and are only kept from being outright Black by the fact that they're fighting for survival just like the others.
Mad Scientist: Professor Van Troff transfers/alters himself into an alien body and takes control of the Morphidian army beneath the surface of Mars, planning to exterminate humanity because... we're not sure exactly.
Macross Missile Massacre: Rocket launcher turrets. Vehicles on the heavy end can mount several of these. A few more even get to mount another one on top of that.
More Dakka: The ultimate unit for each side has less armor and HP than mid-game units but carry twice as much firepower. Arguably, the UCS has the most powerful defense building: the Fortress which can mount FOUR heavy guns. Also, some heavy guns and the big version of the UCS light rocket launcher can mount an auxiliary light gun on top. To put that in practice, you can either arm a Kruszchev tank with a heavy rocket launcher or dual 120mm cannon plus 20mm chaingun, laser cannon, ion cannon, rocket launcher, antimissile or banner (gives two extra levels of experience to nearby friendly units). Too bad this practice wasn't carried over to Earth 2160.
Many weapon upgrades follow the same philosophy: tack on another barrel and double ammo capacity. And starting with Moon Project, the endgame unit now has the same armor and slightly more HP than the mid-game version.
The 2150 games have no less than four bars: health (obvious), shieldnote soaks up damage from energy weapons until depleted, heatnote inflicted by laser weapons, maxing it out instantly kills the unit regardless of health; units will cool off on their own but buildings won't and electronicsnote inflicted by ion weapons and LC electro-cannons; depleting about half of it will stun the target, fully depleting it will completely incapacitate the target and make it capturable by repairers. Each one can be set to display in the in-game options menu.
2160 replaces the heat bar with a "mind" bar, only affected by LC and Alien psionic weaponry. Depleting this one will permanently mind-control the unit to the attacker's faction (unless the former owner mind-controls it back). Only appears on organic units or vehicles with a pilot - leading to the logical conclusion that the UCS is completely immune to these weapons.
Screwed by the Network — The SDK (official modding toolkit) is surrounded with nigh-legendary controversy. At first, the only way to obtain it was to register on a certain fansite then apply for permission - but the only way to get permission is to have prior modding experience. You're a complete newcomer, you say? Sorry, no SDK for you. Later, the 2160 SDK was bundled with the Universe Edition of the game... only available in Europe. When an American modder went to the extra mile of specifically asking Zuxxez for the SDK on the basis that 1) he already paid for the game once and paying for the same thing twice is ridiculous, 2) the game is allegedly region-locked and 3) he can't legally import the game due to import laws, they asked him what country he's from - and unceremoniously dropped all contact with him upon receiving the answer.
It gets even better. One of the big words during 2160's marketing campaign was the game's moddability due to the availability of the SDK. But with the developers withholding the SDK from everyone but a small elite group, the public has no way to mod the game as, since the professional teams received the official kit, none of them had any reason to write an unofficial one. This prevented the formation of a widespread modding community which greatly contributed to the death of the franchise.
On the other hand, the AI in 2150 is playing with limited resources and can be rendered helpless by keeping it from mining.
Nuclear War — World War III was fought with these, resulting in most of the nations being destroyed. Nukes also played a major part in both the war of 2140 and 2150.
Nuke 'em — The premise deals with a Nuclear War as well as the nuclear strike that shifted Earth's orbit.
This is traditionally the ED's superweapon. In Earth 2150, the SDI Defense Center's only purpose is blowing up incoming nukes before they impact; the expansions add the ability to blow UCS Plasma Control Center bolts as well.
Organic Technology: Morphidians in Earth 2160, although it's a little vague: since the Creators couldn't make them fly properly, they gave them a mechanical Von Neumann fleet. Even the ground units aren't fully organic: there's cannons, metal, electronic parts, all of them cloned, somehow, organically.
Powered Armor: Robots and cyborgs are present in Earth 2140 and Earth 2160. Excluded from Earth 2150 to get past Germany's "no video game gore" laws.
And with the amount of firepower thrown around late-game, they'd just be in the way. Not to mention that ambient temperatures on the Volcanic and Lava Pits tilesets are a bit too high to have a stroll outside.
Prequel in the Lost Age: sort of. One of the 2160 trailers is basically a chronological montage of various 2140 and 2150 cutscenes - however, the 2140 segment is preceded by one made of cutscenes from World War 3: Black Gold, another Reality Pump game that uses the very same game engine as 2150 and shows how the current-day world had gone from the US stepping up military presence in the Middle East due to an oil embargo to Russia jumping into the fray and escalating the conflict into a full nuclear war. With the 2150 manual (released far earlier than WW3:BG) confirming that it was a full nuclear exchange that plunged humanity into the miserable state it is in at the start of the Earth series, it seems very likely that WW3:BG is an unofficial prequel.
Reinventing the Wheel: Averted. The Earth 2150 campaign is persistent in this way: each side except the Lost Souls' UCS faction has an off-map main base. Units and money in this base are always preserved, those left in the mission area are permanently lost. To this end, the player is provided a special air unit whose purpose is facilitating transfers between bases. The Moon Project and Lost Souls added a pretty useful mechanic: when you end a mission, any remaining money will be instantly transferred to the main base; mining the map bare and selling all structures except the Landing Zone will net you the highest possible gain. For mining missions, ending the mission with no enemies left and at least one Transport Base will gradually transfer all remaining resources to the main base over time. Research is always preserved.
In fact, many walkthroughs and strategy guides recommend you to only build powerplants, defenses and resource infrastructure in the mission area, producing and ferrying reinforcements from the main base instead of building them on-site. Aside from scripted events in the Moon Project ED campaign, your main base can never be attacked despite there being announcer sound files for all three factions for it.
In Earth 2160, there's no main base but research is always preserved and if a unit that has gained experience survives a mission, it will be available in the next one. Even if it's an aircraft that requires an airfield to land.
Frickin' Laser Beams: The ED Laser Cannon. While mainstream counterparts burn, cut, or explode, ED lasers heat the target until its engine or ammo stores explode.
Oddly, the demonstration video shows the laser vaporizing an entire dummy target.
Oddlier still, Earth 2160 turns the ED lasers into a Hollywood Science weapon: light lasers fire red bolts while heavy lasers fire a continuous pink beam that damages the target's health (since 2160 no longer keeps track of unit heat levels).
It may have been based on the Fang's Plasma Projector or some relative thereof, seeing that it has the exact same effect, only it trades off range for firepower.
Static Stun Gun: The ED Ion Cannon and the LC Electro Cannon. The former is built for EMP from the ground-up. LC units suffer most when affected by these, because the LC does not have repairer technology to recover units from incapacitation.
Then again, according to the in-game clock it takes about 30-40 mins just to build a small turret or tunnel network node, so it's somewhat more reasonable than other games.
Robot War: UCS armed forces are made up entirely of machines and are controlled by an AI. ED uses cyborgs in Earth 2140.
Sequence Breaking: some missions in 2150 can be done with the mission objectives out of order. For example, the Alaska mission for the ED instructs you to raid a UCS mining operation, kill everyone at the site then beat back a hefty counterattack and hold your position against the enemy onslaught until you reach the target amount of extracted resources. However, you're not prevented from mining the field first, then demolishing the base (since the last building's destruction is what triggers said counterattack); doing so is far easier and less stressful, as not only you have as much time to prepare as you want, you can leave the destruction part to a single unit and pull out before the UCS reinforcements even spawn on the map.
Shoot the Bullet: The Antimissile is to rockets as the Energy Shield is to energy weapons. Its usefulness varies from person to person.
Shout Out: The name of the hacker that is fighting UCS is called Neo. He is later captured and turned into an AI.
Single-Biome Planet: Subverted initially (we are talking about Earth here) but gradually turns into a volcano planet.
Slap-on-the-Wrist Nuke: ED uses nuclear missiles as their superweapon. They are nowhere near as powerful as they should be, especially given that it was their nukes that managed to push an entire planet off its orbit. Also, the destruction of UCS nuclear power plants only results in a mildly annoying but not damaging nuclear explosion.
The in-game nukes are probably tactical, while the story nukes were strategic.
More specifically, the ED has three kinds of nukes: silo-based ballistic missile, vehicle-mounted ballistic missile, helicopter-mounted unguided bomb (since nukes apparently don't work against aircraft). The latter is a bit buggy in the Lost Souls campaign as it has infinite research time. It may be a bug, but missile silos also gain experience: hit a big cluster of buildings and your next nuke might very well have twice the bang.
Space Filling Empire: UCS controls the Western hemisphere, ED controls the Eastern and LC is the sole proprietor of the Moon until The Moon Project where the UCS takes interest in the Moon.
Spanner in the Works: Falkner gradually becomes this to Van Troff as he repeatedly screws over Rifkin in the ED campaign of 2160. Not to worry though; Van Troff recruits him to serve as his Dragon.
Standard Sci-Fi Fleet: While every human faction in 2160 has regular aircraft, the Morphidians are radically different. Since their creators couldn't find mutations that were powerful enough in the air, the aliens instead received nanomachines to build a self-replicating fleet with.
Replicatorus: the self-repicating element of the fleet. Can endlessly replicate as long as it has access to crystals.
Morphoratorus: can't replicate anymore but can rebuild itself into combat aircraft if it absorbs metal.
Postomor fighter: produced in batches of four but even one can dominate every human air unit in the game.
Morphorator light cruiser: basic capital ship that averts Point Defenseless by having automatic laser turrets to shoot down incoming missiles. Can rebuild itself into more specialised forms if it absorbs crystals.
Morphorator heavy cruiser: replaces the light cruiser's universal energy weapons into a ground-only missile salvo that outranges all static air defenses.
Morphorator destroyer: has an even more powerful ground-and-air energy weapon and a whopping 4000 health plus point defense turrets. It's not called the strongest air unit for nothing.
Superpower Meltdown: Sort of. Units gain more range and firepower as they level up. The Area 51 UFO is no exception, capable of doing the entire mission for you if you micromanage it carefully. However, once it reaches maximum experience, the variables seem to overflow and it gets zero weapon range. Ouch. Corrected in Moon Project.
Super Prototype: sort of. The Fang is of alien origin while the mass-produced New Hope isn't. While the Fang has some 800 HP and regenerates noticeably faster than other LC units, the New Hope has less HP (120 without experience) than any other combat unit in the game and all of its attributes are inferior to the Fang... but it regenerates CRAZY FAST. As in, back to full health in less than a second if it's a non-killing blow. Add in that the sucker has 75% armor and it's nigh impossible to kill a New Hope without overwhelming firepower or numbers.
Tank Goodness: The ED tanks. Even the lightest of them is heavier armed than any modern MBT.
Actually, the manual states that the TT100 Pamir isn't reminiscent of an M1A1 Abramsnote when the game came out, the M1A2 variant didn't exist, it IS an Abrams. Only modified to operate with a one-man crew. Though that still doesn't explain the presence of dual 105mm cannons/futuristic equivalent of Patriot missiles or, from Moon Project onwards, energy shields.
There's also Fang's hyper-advanced tank. Justified since it's of alien origin and is one-of-a-kind. Until the Moon Project where the LC starts to field the somewhat inferior "New Hope" mass production model. Said model doesn't have much hitpoints but it has fast regeneration. Not to mention that despite the LC scientists' best efforts, they couldn't field the tank with anything other than the original Plasma Projectors else the recoil would've damaged the armor.
Stellar: Most LC units are usually named after astronomical terms, except the Thunderer (bomber), Crusher (superheavy tank) and Crion (mobile artillery). Units added in The Moon Project all avert this trope.
The Dragon: Falkner appears to become this for Van Troff in the Alien campaign of 2160 but the final mission reveals that Rifkin was the real Dragon all this time.
The ED's Congo mission is timed. You have somewhere around three days until the UCS deciphers the captured silo's launch codes and nuke you to oblivion. You have until that time to destroy said base. Preferably by nuking them back.
Lost Souls also has a tricky ED mission where you have to capture the shuttle launch base. However, it is buggy because you CAN'T complete the mission in time so the timer is fake! More specifically, it triggers a failure message but the mission doesn't end and not even the patch corrects this... Not to mention that said launch base is a decoy, the shuttles aren't even there.
Turned Against Their Masters: One of the in-universe theories regarding what happened to the UCS exodus ship. Subverted in that it turns out the pilot AI actually decided to leave the ship orbiting in the Oort Cloud until the ED and LC had destroyed each other, keeping the human survivors in suspension and setting up massive factories to take over the Sol system for them. Pretty nice machines. Also, played straight in what that jerk-AI GOLAN did in Lost Souls, betraying the rest of humanity on orders from the President of the UCS.
It was revealed at the very end of Lost Souls that the leaderships of all three factions have conspired with each other to leave GOLAN behind in order to keep anyone from following them and threatening the status quo.
Underground Level: UCS and ED can dig underground tunnels that can be used to sneak up on an enemy. LC can use tunnels, but can't build them, until The Moon Project, that is.
Variable Mix: Each side is given a unique soundtrack with a list of songs for one of three moods: daytime, nighttime and war. Notably, A Song In The Key of Warning will roll when a player's units begins to sustain hits in a heated skirmish.
Weather of War: Climate conditions don't usually have a powerful effect on combat, but high winds make it hard for aircraft to perform (as well as preventing grounded aircraft from taking off, potentially blocking factories) and whatever the local weather is like changes what the LC's Weather Control Machine is capable of.
World War III: Happens in 2048 and results in the later formations of UCS and ED. LC was founded specifically to allow some humans to escape the destruction of the war on the Moon.