It feels just lately that some of the best games I played on the PC all those years ago are returning in a very sentimental form. This is certainly not a bad thing and for now a 26 year old gamer who has the experience and history to recognise how the industry has transformed in that time, it is nice to have that nostalgia and classic nature return for those younger peeps who have yet to experience the rich past a lot of us enjoyed.
Command and Conquer was one of those titles that met the requirement for classic status and although there have been many iterations of the game, the soul has certainly returned in the latest. Kane is indeed back as the Internet reported time and time again. Those wonderfully cheesy video segments (back in the day referred to as FMV sequences), have returned as well in over 90 minutes worth of glorious high definition footage with recognisable actors including the same actor who played Kane back in the day.
So while trying to remain critical while experiencing this happy glow that has appeared since reliving some great gaming moments, will Command and Conquer deliver the goods?
The original Command and Conquer sported fast action gameplay with a strategic and tactical command posturing, but the most important factor was of course how much fun it was to play. With a bonkers story line that over the years has progressed very little, Command and Conquer has returned with a very nostalgic feel to it as it tries so hard to capture the magic of the series previously experienced many moons ago.
As in typical Command and Conquer fashion, you have your usual challenges as either GDI (you know the good guys), The Brotherhood of Nod (you know the bad guys) and now a mysterious alien race that should go some way into explaining why on earth the planet is covered by this Tiberium substance.
The missions vary quite a bit whether you are attacking, defending, scouting or just a selection of the three. All are entertaining in their own right, but the story actually does add a greater sense of purpose and continuation.
So as a real time strategy game on a console, the usual and now quite tedious arguments of PC versus our block of gaming goodness that sits under the television returns as that keyboard and mouse versus controller arises from the ashes yet again. Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth 2 for the Xbox 360 may have gone a long way in calming any control fears thanks to its great advances of understanding what we as gamers need in having such a title on our system. Therefore Command and Conquer has learned what did and didn’t work here and has pretty triumphantly now taken RTS games into the right direction.
No longer will we be scared to pick up a controller to play what before has always been considered a PC only possibility for the purists. What is most surprising is that in some way having played both the PC and Xbox 360 version of this title is that in a lot of ways I actually prefer the controller! No I haven’t lost my marbles, just read on…
OK selecting units is and will always be easier on the PC thanks to the precise nature of the mouse; however where the mouse can sometimes fall flat on its backside is traversing the battle area. Using the two analogue sticks on the Xbox 360 controller to find the best view, zoom and angle to assess your next move or just to admire some of the graphical splendour is far easier than using scroll wheels, cursor keys or whatever else on the PC. Whether setting up your defences or attacking the enemy, you feel comfortable enough to access some of the more advanced features of the game, which is of great credit to the developers.
Online, you can enjoy your usual Xbox Live modes to face up to four opponents. Thankfully you can also play using that dust collector otherwise known as the Xbox Live Vision Camera, so now you can enjoy a quick battle with your friends while also viewing them in the corners of the screen. Simple addition, but one I wish more games would make use of!
One of my main concerns in Command and Conquer for the Xbox 360 was frame rate. Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth 2 may have looked stunning, but did suffer when quite a few units were on screen. Command and Conquer fares much better and although the graphics aren’t quite as voluptuous as Battle for Middle Earth 2, you still do feel a similar satisfaction especially when the alien units are involved.
Yes the alien race certainly adds something different to the game and although a controversial addition, it does excel in showing off some pretty darn good visuals. Those lasers firing all over the place for example really add something new to the series and even if you are one of those where you consider this a step too far for Command and Conquer, you will not doubt appreciate the on screen foray.
The battle field can be one large devastation zone of units doing their thing in the protection of the bases and whether you are defending, scouting or attacking, the landscapes do add a nice atmospheric touch.
What is it with RTS games that they all insist that when you click on a unit, you get the same sound sample played! Something like ‘Ready for action’ is quite typical, but hey if we are trying to remain nostalgic, we need to keep these little annoyances and it isn’t actually that bad.
The single player campaign will push you on to new gaming heights in one way or another. Whether you are defending the planet, or just acting like a terrorist, Command and Conquer has enough guts to bestow enjoyment to the individuals worthy enough to take on this classic heritage.
Let’s not forget online though, where you and a friend can team up and even have a few computer controlled artificial intelligence to face against with some impressive options. You have the obvious versus, but then add to that King of the Hill, Capture the Flag and Capture and Hold.
Yes this game has enough to have you battling away for hours and even those cheesy (yet strangely wonderful) video sequences will have you coming back for a little more.
As someone who has been dipping into PC gaming lately on and off, you can’t help but feel that horrid sense of console isolation when you try and control a game like this. Do not fear the pull of this title though! Command and Conquer 3: Tiberiun Wars is confident enough to stick out its chest on PC and indeed the console for its impressive control setups.
If you played the original and want to relive the series with all the updated wonders of modern technology or you are new to the C&C universe and love RTS games, you won’t be disappointed either way.
So grab your Xbox 360 controller, dust off your Live Vision Camera and enjoy the delights of a true reincarnation that proves yet again that the good old days of gaming can be brought back without the nastiness of old age.