In the late 21st century, NASDA (the North American Strategic Defense Agency) developed and deployed a massive missile defense system, including a network of nuclear-equipped satellites and ground-based launch sites. However, during a routine maintenance check, something went terribly wrong...
"The Collapse came fast and hard. Following a technical error in the satellite defense system, nuclear warheads were fired at Washington, Beijing and Moscow. Minutes later, ground based sites fired in response to the launch. Millions died as nuclear firestorms wiped out the world's cities. Billions more died as plagues and epidemics swept away what remained of civilization. Less than a million people survived the Collapse. Earth broke into hundreds of small scavenger bands battling each other for the remnants of the former civilization. Only a few had the vision to attempt to rebuild a new world from the ashes."
The player (referred to as "the Commander") is part of a group of survivors that seeks shelter in a military base in the Rocky Mountains. They emerge from the base with the goal of rebuilding the world, adopting the name "The Project".
The Project dispatches three teams with the objective of reclaiming artifacts, thus allowing the research and application of pre-Collapse technologies. Team Alpha is sent to an Arizona desert location southeast of Project HQ. Beta team is sent to the remains of Chicago. Gamma team is sent into the northern Rockies in Colorado.
See also: Walkthrough
In Campaign One, the Commander accompanies and commands Team Alpha in Arizona. Team Alpha's primary objective is to find and recover the "Synaptic Link" technology, which is later explained to allow a neural interface between man and machine, and thus the construction of cyborg infantry. Secondary objectives include the recovery of other artifacts and technology, and the elimination of hostiles.
The "Scavengers" are the first hostile race to be encountered. Weak but numerous, scavengers provide a small challenge. As technologies are recovered from the scavengers, the Project encounters the "New Paradigm". This faction is hostile to the Project, and possesses superior technology.
A transmission to the New Paradigm is intercepted by the Project and it is apparent that the New Paradigm is following orders by some entity called "Nexus". The Project eventually chases the New Paradigm to their home base. As the last standing base of the New Paradigm is eradicated, Team Beta sends a distress signal and informs Team Alpha that they are under attack and need reinforcements. Team Alpha loads reinforcements on transport bound for Beta Base, and Campaign One ends.
In Campaign Two, the commander arrives at and takes control of Beta Base in the ruins of Chicago. After fending off a fierce attack by an unnamed enemy, Project HQ informs the commander that the primary objective of Team Beta is to recover VTOL technology from before the Collapse.
It is discovered that Team Beta's attackers call themselves "The Collective" and constantly attempt to attack and destroy Beta team. As attacks increase in strength, the commander is also sent to destroy missile bases in the area. Though these are successfully destroyed, Project HQ detects a missile launch from near the Rocky Mountains area that soon hits Alpha Base. Suspecting a launch aimed at Beta Base, The Project orders an evacuation of Beta Base.
As Team Beta prepares to evacuate Beta Base, the Collective launches a massive attack on Beta Base, unaware of the impending nuclear attack. The Project races to evacuate as many troops as possible while defending against the Collective's attack. As Beta Base is destroyed and the evacuees head off to meet Team Gamma, Campaign Two ends.
Campaign Three begins with the commander and his forces landing in an unoccupied area near Gamma Base. After setting up a base, the commander is attacked by Nexus forces. Further, the commander discovers that Nexus possesses technology capable of taking over control of Project units and destroying Project structures by hacking into their computer systems.
Soon, Gamma Base sends out a distress call requesting relief from attacks by Nexus. After fighting past Nexus forces to get to Gamma Base, Nexus reveals that they have completely taken over Gamma Base, and the Project is forced to destroy it.
As this happens, Nexus explains its history. It had a military contract to develop the synaptic link technology, but after years of research and little progress, the Synaptic Link project is shut down. The leader of the program, Dr. Reed, hacked into NASDA and takes revenge by causing the Collapse. He plants his consciousness into a virus called the Nexus Intruder Program.
Campaign Three continues with a massive escalation in conflict. The Project learns that Nexus has gained control of a missile base in the Rocky Mountains region, and attacks it. Although the attack is successful and the facility destroyed, the Nexus sets the missiles to detonate in their silos and the commander races to find shelter from the impending impact.
After the explosion, the commander returns to base, and receives a distress call from the survivors of the earlier attack on Alpha Base. Once rescued and found to be free of Nexus absorption, Team Alpha reveals a small base they constructed and gives control over to the commander.
Nexus then announces that it has gained control of the laser-equipped satellites and begins using them to fire upon the Project's forces. Fortunately, the orbits of the satellites are unstable, so the firing is inaccurate. Project HQ declares that these satellites must be eliminated before they compromise the Project. Another nearby missile base is located and captured, but Nexus has stabilized the satellites' orbits and declares that firing will be precise and deadly. As Project researches race to crack the missile launch codes, Nexus laser satellites and ground forces unrelentingly attack Team Gamma.
The Project finally cracks the missile launch codes and launches missiles destroying Nexus' laser satellites. With the laser satellites gone, the Project launches a final attack on Nexus headquarters.
2050: NATO alliance collapses in face of growing nationalism and unrest in Europe.
2075: Nationalist unrest in Eastern Europe and Asia leads to nuclear attacks by terrorists.
2075: Synaptic Link research begins.
2077: Mongolia attacks China.
2079: Korea allies with Mongolia.
2080: Synaptic link patented. First cyborg soldiers developed.
2080: NASDA (the North American Strategic Defense Agency) formed to protect North America from nuclear attacks.
2081: NASDA begins building a satellite defense array.
2082: The NASDA satellite system comes on line.
2085: During routine testing the NASDA system malfunctions and launches nuclear strikes against all major cities in the world. The target countries respond with nuclear counter strikes. NASDA fails to defend against incoming missiles.
2086: Nuclear Winter begins. Widespread plagues and famines kill billions of people. Civilization ends. NASDA systems lie dormant following electromagnetic pulses. A group of survivors discover an abandoned subterranean military base. They set up home there and begin The Project.
2099: The Project emerges from its military base.
2100: The Project begins its search for pre-Collapse technologies.