Generals takes place in the near future. The United States and the People’s Republic of China are the world’s two superpowers, and are the targets of the Global Liberation Army, a large, well-organized terrorist organization, fighting as a fanatical irregular force. The United States and China are depicted as allies in the series, and frequently co-operate with each other throughout the storyline against the Global Liberation Army, which is depicted as a fanatical, omnipresent, border-less terrorist organization with unclear goals beyond opposition to and expulsion of both China and the United States.
United States of America
The United States is the most technologically advanced faction, and fights with a combination of powerful ground units and a large, versatile fleet of aircraft. USA forces rely on skill, mobility, and high technology to defeat the raw fire-power of China and the guerilla tactics of the GLA. USA ground vehicles can construct unmanned drones to support and repair them in combat, and American troops and vehicles make extensive use of laser technology to guide weapons and defend against attack. American infantry have a number of special abilities, and include stealthy long-ranged snipers and a powerful commando named Colonel Burton with a number of abilities revolving around demolition and stealth. The USA also fields the largest air fleet in the game, including attack and transport helicopters, fighter planes, high speed bombers and stealth bombers. American Generals’ abilities revolve around air power, including air strikes by A-10 Thunderbolt IIs and fuel air bombs. They also possess a Particle Cannon super weapon capable of destroying units and most buildings instantly.
The USA has a major disadvantage, however, in that it has the most expensive economy in the game; in comparison to troop costs, it has a less stable supply of power than China, and its high-tech units are very expensive. However, they gain resources the fastest, with their speedy Chinooks taking $600 at a time. This method, though makes them vulnerable to a GLA quad cannon attack, or a Chinese Gatling tank.
The USA campaign is the third chronologically in Generals. In response to the GLA’s launch of the biochemical weapon, the USA engages the GLA across several locales, including Baghdad and the Caspian Sea. They later defeat a rogue Chinese general supporting the terrorists and track them back to their base of operations in Akmola, Kazakhstan. In Zero Hour, the USA retakes the Baikonur Cosmodrome, but is later pushed back from Europe after the GLA invades the west coast of the United States.
The People’s Republic relies largely on brute force and sheer numbers, culminating in a variety of powerful and heavily armoured tanks, and has limited air power. China’s play-style emphasizes direct assaults and sheer power to defeat American technology and GLA stealth. Chinese troops and tanks gain special bonuses when in groups, and make extensive use of propaganda (passive healing) to support their troops. China has a wide range of vehicle types, including several specialized tanks like Type 69 as “Battlemaster”, BTR-80 as “Troop Crawler”, “Overlord” tank(s) and two artillery units: the Chinese “Inferno Cannon” and “Nuke Cannon”. They are the only artillery units whose shells cannot be intercepted. Chinese forces also make heavy use of gatling, nuclear, and napalm weaponry to destroy the enemy. China also utilizes advanced electronic warfare technology, including elite hackers, a spy called Black Lotus, listening outpost vehicles and electromagnetic pulse weapons. There is an electronic warfare tank which can be used in tactical scale and a bomb delivered by a plane for strategic purposes. It can black out an entire base and bring down aircraft.
China has a major disadvantage in that its ground forces are generally slower than those of the other two factions. Due to having virtually no fast attack units, except for their MiGs, China is forced to make large, ponderous assaults with heavy units, a tactic that can be countered by the GLA’s speed or the USA’s air power. However, the Chinese forces are well-suited to winning drawn-out battles of attrition.
China’s campaign is the first chronologically in Generals. China retaliates after the GLA launches a devastating nuclear attack on Beijing. During one battle, China destroys the Three Gorges Dam in order to eliminate a large GLA army. China uses its nuclear arsenal to further fight against the GLA and eventually crushes the GLA cell masterminding all Pacific rim operations. In Zero Hour, China defeats the GLA during their invasion of Europe and seizes the opportunity to rise as a world power.
Global Liberation Army
Being technologically disadvantaged, the GLA has comparatively weak (though highly mobile) ground vehicles and no air force, prompting the use of guerilla tactics such as tunnelling, suicide bombing, hijacking, and ambushing.
The GLA has a larger array of infantry types and vehicles to make up for this disadvantage, and has the widest range of stealth options. The GLA also has a very powerful economy, with various resource-gathering techniques such as salvaging wreckage, gaining cash bounties on destroyed enemy units, and building multiple “black market” structures to bring in large amounts of money over time. Also, the GLA are unique in that they have no energy requirement for any of their structures or units. The GLA’s upgrades make it more powerful when fully equipped, transforming a relatively weak group of units into a more respectable threat. Their special unit, stealthy sniper named Jarmen Kell has the ability to shoot crew out of vehicles, making the GLA infantry able to steal the driver-less unit. The super-weapon names Scud Storm is very deadly to any infantry, due to its anthrax load spreading wide, somewhat hurting the enemy vehicles and buildings are only affected on impact. The GLA is also unique in that its structures retain two stages of integrity. Stage one is the functional stage where the building acts normally compared to its Chinese and USA counterparts. The building reaches stage two when it would have conventionally been destroyed. In the remains of the building there is a “hole”. Overtime, the hole will regenerate health and at 100%, the destroyed building will re-spawn, as in return to stage 1. This special ability makes it difficult to permanently damage the GLA with many single-shot weapons or units.
The GLA’s toxic weapons, strong suicide units, and stealth and surprise abilities enable it to hit enemies from unexpected directions, and its powerful economy, combined with cheap, fast units, enables it to flood opponents with sheer numbers. The GLA’s primary disadvantage is that, in terms of fire-power and durability, its units are outmatched by Chinese and American units, and it has a complete lack of air power.
The GLA campaign is the second chronologically in Generals. Following the setback at the hands of the Chinese, they raise funds and instigate attacks against their American and Chinese antagonists. They eventually overtake the Baikonur Cosmodrome in order to fire a Soyuz rocket bearing a biological MIRV at Astana city. In Zero Hour, the GLA loses control of the Baikonur Cosmodrome to the USA and attacks the American west coast in retaliation and eventually invades Europe. They are defeated in Europe by China.