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Video Game / Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn

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World Domination in a box

The first game in the greater Command & Conquer series, and the originator of one of its two storylines, Tiberian Dawn was released in 1995 by Westwood Studios and originally known simply as Command & Conquer, before later being given its subtitle. Set 20 Minutes into the Future, it is a Real-Time Strategy game with a smattering of sci-fi elements such as alien crystals, stealth technology, and orbital lasers. A terrorist organization operating from various Third World nations known as the Brotherhood of Nod harnesses the power of Tiberium to challenge the rest of the world on equal footing, under the leadership of the charismatic and enigmatic Kane. The UN-backed Global Defense Initiative, a military coalition dedicated to restoring order and containing the spread of Tiberium, manages to hold the line and defeat Nod, killing Kane in the process. The game was followed by a plot-free expansion pack, The Covert Operations, a multiplayer-only sequel named Sole Survivor, and Renegade, an FPS set during the final days of the conflict from this game that boasts an active modding community and a small but dedicated fanbase.


Late 2018, Electronic Arts, current owner of the C&C franchise, announced they are working with Petrogylph Games, a studio formed by Westwood Studios veterans, to remaster Tiberian Dawn and its expansions, along with a remaster of the original Red Alert. Both games are set to be released as the Command & Conquer Remastered Collection on June 5, 2020, nearly 25 years after the release of the original.

EA declared the game freeware in 2007, and can be downloaded freely from CNCNet, whose distribution comes patched with support for modern PCs and access to their own fan servers. Failing that, there's also OpenRA, an open-source Fan Remake of this game, Red Alert, and Dune 2000 that rebalances and modernises the game, adding in features from later Command & Conquer games.

Shortly before the release of the Remastered Collection, EA released the source code for this game and Red Alert under GPL 3.0.


Please note that this page is for tropes that feature in this game and its expansion only. Please add tropes relating to other games as well on the main Tiberian series page.

This game contains examples of:

  • A.I. Breaker:
    • The AI can become crippled and unable to rebuild if it no longer has a Construction Yard. A really cheap strategy that was invented to exploit this weakness is to load an APC full of engineers and make a suicide run into the enemy's base with the sole intent of capturing and selling off said Construction Yard. Afterwards, capturing/destroying the Tiberium Refineries will pretty much reduce the mission to a leisurely cleanup job.
    • The AI rebuilds a destroyed building in the place it originally occupied. This allows the player to prevent the computer from rebuilding merely by parking a single unit, even a lowly rifleman, where the building once was. Even the sole exception (where one final GDI mission has the AI construct an Obelisk of Light in a Tiberium patch that you're harvesting) can still be blocked by parking a unit in it's intended location.
      • The AI also can't rebuild a building if its units are standing where the building is supposed to be. Which means that if you destroy a building and park a tank on a nearby cliff and make sure it isn't attacking anything, the units that will emerge from the destroyed building will try to keep shooting at the tank, not move at all, and prevent the building from being rebuilt.
    • Another cheap tactic is to use the "wall trick" which involves building sandbags all the way to the enemy's base and then closing it off with Concrete Walls.
  • Artificial Brilliance: Enemy tracked vehicles will not waste time trying to shoot at your riflemen and will opt to run them over instead.
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • The AI will always try to take the shortest route to attacking your base... even if that route goes through a Tiberium field and is lined with base defenses.
    • The AI can't even deal with sandbags in their own base, which really goes to show how effective the "wall trick" was in this game.
  • Artistic License – Geography: Plenty, but perhaps the most striking is the city of Białystok, presented in the game as a small hamlet inhabited by peace-loving peasants. The kicker? In 1995, Białystok was the capital of a voivodeship, with circa 270,000 citizens and a large light industry sector. Alas, poor Poland.
  • Automatic New Game: The first time the game starts up, it skips the title screen entirely and plays the TV-surfing intro cinematic that briefly flashes the GDI and Nod logos before asking the player to select a side.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Flamethrowers and grenadiers have a tendency to cause more damage to your own forces than to the enemy, even when they're not exploding upon death.
  • BFG: The Commando fires a silenced .50 caliber assault rifle. Left handed, apparently.
  • Bond One-Liner: "That was left handed."
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard:
    • In the campaign, the AI can rebuild its destroyed buildings anywhere, whereas the player can only build next to existing structures.
    • the AI harvester brings back about 20k of credits compared to the players 700 credits per full harvester. That way, the computer can replace one harvester that was lost if the other one (in later missions it usually has two) gets through. That makes cutting off its supply of resources a more difficult task.
    • The player can only use Nod's nuclear strike once, but the AI has no such limitation.
  • Came from the Sky: The events of the game are triggered by a meteorite strike on the Tiber river, which drops off some Green Rocks. GDI wants to contain it, while Nod wants to exploit it to evolve humanity.
  • Cosmetically Different Sides: Faction Calculus is present, in a stark contrast with its main rival of the time, WarCraft I and II. GDI relies on heavy, conventional platforms while Nod relies on light skirmishers and experimental weapons. A rare example of the good guys being the Powerhouse.
  • Cutscenes: Once per mission and one of the innovative pillars of its appeal and success, the game filled 2 CDs with FMV in a time when the floppy disk was still a prominent medium.
  • Deadly Gas: Chem Warriors use a sprayer full of toxic waste (a byproduct of refining tiberium). It instakills enemy troops (and some civilians in the relevant mission) at the cost of sometimes mutating them into a visceroid.
  • Death from Above: GDI has the Ion Cannon, can call A-10 airstrikes, and build Orca VTOL attack fighters. Several Nod missions are meant to counter, steal or reverse this hardly checked advantage.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: In one of the GDI endings (if you destroy the Temple of Nod without the Ion Cannon), Kane walks down a corridor and is suddenly crushed by falling debris. Subverted because he is alive and well in the next game.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • This is the only game in the series without a skirmish mode; even if the computer was added to a game it did not have a base. A skirmish mode was added in the Remastered Collection.
    • This game had a lot of gameplay mechanics that were either ditched or were not present in later installments, such as being only able to build right next to a building and not differentiating between defensive buildings (which could be built farther away but do not generate "build" areas or allow building of new things) and normal/production ones. This specifically led to the "Sand bag wall" exploit.
    • Nod uses an Airstrip to 'produce' vehicles by flying in completed units instead of building them directly on the field with a weapons factory. From the first Red Alert onwards, all factions, even Nod in later games, use an evolution of the GDI weapons factory, the War Factory, to construct vehicles at field bases, while airfields and anything similar in nature only serve to produce aircraft and occasionally provide radar.
    • In terms of the story, this is the only game where Nod isn't overtly religious, although in-game cutscenes and the presence of the Temple of Nod implied that it's still there.
  • Expansion Pack:
    • The Covert Operations adds a pack of missions and several hidden levels.
    • Red Alert was conceived to be one and it shows, but the developers realized the potential for a full-fledged standalone game.
    • The console ports are also halfway to this, as they include a unique set of new missions for both sides.
  • Exposition Break: Both campaigns have a short educational video explaining how Tiberium works inserted in one of the mid-game briefings. Played straight in the GDI campaign, but in the Nod campaign Kane snarks over what he claims are its many inaccuracies.
  • Flamethrower Backfire:
    • Flamethrowers explode when shot, likely killing other nearby infantry. They can also explode in a chain reaction from other exploding flamethrowers.
    • Nod's Flame Tank also explode in a similar fashion, although the other tanks that would surround it generally will barely feel a scratch from the flames.
  • Glass Cannon: The Nod Recon Bike does a good job at moving fast and destroying vehicles and buildings with its twin Missile Launchers. The only problem is that it tends to die really quickly when it has to fight tanks. What's even more sad is that the Stealth Tank has the same problem: It's great at destroying things so long as they don't shoot back with anti-vehicle weapons.
  • I Love Nuclear Power: The power plants are implied to be nuclear and Nod's superweapon is a nuclear missile.
  • Is This Thing Still On?: After a mission in which you (playing GDI) save a town from being wiped out by Nod, there is a cinematic featuring a reporter in front of a scene of destruction saying that the town was wiped out by GDI. It then cuts to a green-screen in a studio, where Big Bad Kane begins to give orders on the distribution of the propaganda video before noticing the camera and shooting it while ordering the destruction of its film.
  • Kick the Dog: Nod's not above laying waste to villages full of innocent people and blaming it on GDI.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Mild example: the scene mentioned above in Is This Thing Still On? takes place in a green-screen studio, likely the same one used to film this game's cutscenes.
  • Luck-Based Mission: The first Commando-centric mission. Unlike later games, the Commando fires rather slowly, doesn't regenerate health, and is kinda fragile. Also, buildings destroyed by C4 still have a chance to produce wounded infantry just as if they were destroyed normally, resulting in the very likely scenario of your Commando losing half his health before he gets off the first island. Save Scumming is very useful in these situations.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: In one Nod Covert Ops Mission, your objective is to use Chem-Warriors to devastate a civilian area in order to fabricate an incident where GDI was responsible for a chemical leak that killed innocent bystanders. However, if you destroy just one GDI structure, you'll fail the mission as it will provide evidence to an attack by Nod.
  • Monumental Damage: In the Nod ending, after some TRON-style Hollywood Hacking, the player can choose between razing The White House, the Eiffel Tower, the Houses of Parliament or the Brandenburg Gate with GDI's Ion Cannon.
  • Multiple Endings:
    • In the GDI ending, the Brotherhood is cornered at Sarajevo and broken apart, with its leader "killed." Notably, Kane can be killed in two ways. If you destroy the Temple of Nod with the Ion Cannon when it is the last enemy building on the map, Kane will embrace the light fron the cannon strike as it engulfs him. If you destroy the Temple conventionally, Kane will be crushed by falling debris. The faceplate and burned skin in the sequel reveal that the Ion Cannon ending is the canon one.
    • In the Nod ending, Nod hijacks the GDI Ion Cannon, and you get to destroy one of either the White House in Washington D.C., the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Houses Of Parliament in London, or the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, discrediting the Global Defense Initiative and General Sheppard.
  • No Canon for the Wicked: The GDI victory is canon.
  • Obligatory War Crime Scene: The Brotherhood routinely kills civilians, however, GDI General Sheppard violates the Hague Conventions by ordering the commander to show no quarter to "Kane and his zealots." This is in stark contrast to his earlier behavior, serving to highlight just how high the stakes are in the final mission. Notably, GDI forces in Nod missions will sometimes attack civilians, if they are set to be friendly to the Brotherhood.
  • Regenerating Health: Harvesters and Mammoth Tanks self-repair slowly, up to 50% health.
  • Retronym: Originally titled simply "Command and Conquer." Some official documents on the original discs already contained references to the name "Tiberian Dawn", so it may have been an internal project name that simply never appeared on the box.
  • Save Scumming: You'll probably find yourself doing this in the commando levels to avoid taking damage from those soldiers that may or may not pop out of the buildings you demolish.
  • Scratch Damage: Averted, as seen in this video. The technician's pistol deals one point of small arms damage per shot, but the flame tank possesses an armor class of "heavy" which reduces small arms damage by half. So when the calculation is worked out, the technicians would be dealing 0.5 damage per shot, but the game rounds this down to the nearest So by the end, the technicians are all burnt to a crisp and the flame tank has suffered no damage whatsoever.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: At the end of the GDI campaign, one of Kane's surviving commanders panics and tries to run, but a more stoic sunglasses-wearing faithful kills him before he can get far.
  • Secret Level: A mini-campaign pits the player against dinosaurs in the expansion. This add-on was created at the height of the Jurassic Park movie craze.
  • Slap-on-the-Wrist Nuke: While devastating, it's still technically a small area of effect. Skilled players can defend against them by spreading out the base over a large area. In the campaign, there's only a few situations where such a strike is launched, allowing for prior preparations. What's worse is that the Nuke can only be used once whereas the Ion Cannon can be used indefinitely.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: A perfect example of the trope is seen in the channel-surfing video intro.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Kane is holding a chess piece during the briefing of the 9th Nod mission.
  • Spiteful A.I.: Here's a fun trick: build a wall of Advance Guard Towers\ Obelisks then attack a harvester. Your opponent will attack with every single unit on the map, and probably an Ion Cannon, airstrike and nuke.
  • Spiritual Successor: Dune II, not IN SPACE!. In turn, Red Alert is C&C VERSUS STALIN!
  • The Starscream: Kane's second in command, Seth.
  • Tank Goodness: Special infantry packs a good punch if massed, but can and will be stomped by tanks. With bulkier and mightier tanks, GDI have the drop on Nod here, more than in the sequels (GDI would rely on mechas during Tiberian Sun)
  • Technologically Advanced Foe: The Brotherhood of Nod, thanks to channeling their ginormous wealth in Tiberium into their R&D department. At first the GDI campaign you start off fighting only their conventional, light guerrilla forces, and then suddenly they bust out the Recon Bikes, Obelisks of Light, Flame Tanks and the Stealth Tanks. Subverted, however, when GDI eventually rolls out the Orcas, the Mammoth Tanks and the Ion Cannon.
  • Updated Re-release: C&C 95 Gold, a 1999 Windows 9x version with VGA Graphics. It still maintains the original gameplay, but the UI graphics are adjusted to the new 640x400 resolution.
  • Video-Game Flamethrowers Suck: While individual flamethrower infantry can be useful, they do not work well in groups. Their attack is small short-range attack, which can hit friendly targets within the same group of five infantry simply by being on the back ranks.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Part of Nod's propensity for dog-kicking includes torching orphanages.
  • You Have Failed Me: The game indicated that this was how the Brotherhood of Nod handled incompetent officers, with Seth, Kane's second in command, warning the player in their first meeting that if you failed, you died. Seth, it is worth noting, starts seeming wary of you (noting that "you are rapidly becoming Kane's favorite") as the campaign progresses and continues sending you on difficult missions with faulty intelligence. He eventually tries to send you on an outright Suicide Mission against the Pentagon (all the way across the ocean from the African theater where you're fighting). Then Kane introduces himself by executing Seth mid-sentence, pushing his corpse out of the chair, and promoting you. Disloyalty is even worse than incompetence.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Kane presents himself as a third world messiah and liberator, GDI is the military arm of the United Nations. Nod Kicks The Dog and kills civilians "who are either affiliated with GDI or don't agree with their religious dogma" from the start.

Alternative Title(s): Tiberian Dawn


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