Command and Conquer 3 (PC)
Posted by Guest Writer on Sat, 01 Sep 2007.
Back in 1992 Westwood Studios released Dune 2, a game acknowledged by many to be the first true RTS game. 3 years later they brought out what would be the first in a long line of genre defining games, Command and Conquer: Tiberian Dawn. Set in the not too distant future and pitching the GDI (Global Defense Initiative) world military against the Brotherhood of Nod. A substance known as Tiberium was discovered following a meteorite strike near the Tiber River, and quickly began to reshape the landscape. The raw tiberium could be processed and was worth a lot of money, and so was the harvestable resource in the game.. but was deadly to infantry.
C&C: Tiberian Sun followed in 1999, set in the year 2030 it continued where Tiberian Dawn left off, introducing the civilian faction of 'the forgotten', unplayable in the final game (although there are many hints in the original manual that they were originally intended to be, they were a race of people mutated by the tiberiums effects. As with the story in the first C&C game, Kane was believed to have been killed at the end by GDI after trying to dominate the globe....
But, in 2007 EA games released a new edition to the C&C series, C&C 3: Tiberium Wars. Set in 2047 we once again see Kane seemingly rise from the dead to try take control of the earth, but with a few different plans.
There are several reasons C&C has been classed as one of the best RTS games ever, one of which was its inclusion of fully acted cut scenes instead of either no cut scenes or animated ones, Tiberian Sun featuring James Earl Jones (Voice of Darth Vader) for one. It has a different gameplay system to most RTS games, no builders to harvest/build.. just magically appearing buildings that you build from your sidebar. Allowing you to control your base whilst looking at a battle on the screen, rather than having to flick back and forth.
EA put this building system back (after the much less well received C&C Generals) and introduced a 3rd faction to the storyline, the Scrin. A race of aliens first hinted at in Tiberian Sun with a crashed space ship. The race who first sent tiberium meteorites to earth to terraform it and prepare for their invasion, living off the substance vastly and using it for seemingly everything in their society. Kane summons the Scrin to earth ahead of their planned invasion by detonating a tiberium bomb leading to a battle for the planet with more than just Kane..
The campaign is a great way for beginners to start, introducing new units each mission and guiding you through what to do with a few helpful hints along the way. Initially only the GDI and Nod campaigns are available for play, with the Scrin being introduced into the mix midway through at which point it becomes a bit more confusing, GDI fighting against everyone, Scrin trying to destroy everything in their path, and Nod trying to fight off the Scrin whilst at the same time preventing GDI from destroying them... Kanes plans really do rely on some high faith sometimes!
The C&C3 campaign returns to the traditional C&C scene with fantastic acted cutscenes to further the storyline, not too long that they distract from gameplay, but long enough to give the information. The harder of the difficulties gives a reasonable challenge to even the most well versed player, especially when the Scrin start to appear and mess up your best laid plans. It's a great place to start if you're new to the game or series, but is also good enough to provide entertainment for an old-time player (like myself).
The Scrin campaign becomes available after you complete both the others, and is significantly shorter. All 3 campaigns hold at least one lone commando style mission, where you must use one sole powerful unit to try and take out the opposition, dodging things like automated turrets and tanks. There are more things to unlock than an extra campaign, but the extra unlockables are really more background information to the game/universe, and a bit of information about your units to try and give you hints on how to get around somethings. Worth a play through when you get the time.
There are a few major gripes I have with the multiplayer, the first is that the maps are fairly boring. Ridiculously symmetrical and can get rather boring rather fast, nothing like the Tiberian Sun maps of old where you had to work your way around cliffs and rivers! Each player usually gets a tiberium field right next to their base, and naturally, with it being symmetrical.. you know the enemy has one in exactly the same spot, not that you need too however.. which brings me to my second gripe.
Unlike the old C&C games, you get a free radar with your MCV (Mobile Construction Vehicle), no requirement to build a radar, infact the building that seems the most radar like (Communications center or equivalent.. it has a big satellite dish ontop.. screams radar to me!) is merely there to further technology, no additional function. This free radar coupled with the revealed shroud makes it very easy to know whats going on on the map. In games like Age of Empires, and the older C&C games, the map was initially black, and as you explored it it simply became fogged over instead (Tiberian Sun could have an option to remove the fog and simply have it as black/unexplored with the areas you'd seen being permanently visible)... now there is no reason to explore unless you desperately wish to see what your opponents doing.
Lastly, stealth seems fairly useless when it finally comes into play... Nod have always been fairly weak damagewise, but used stealth and cunning to sneak in the back and do the damage.. so they have a lot of stealth units, however these are fairly redundant when all defenses, a fair few vehicles, and a fair few infantry can detect stealth.. and defenses aren't exactly a rare thing.
Graphically the game is quite astounding, its not AMAZING, but there are some nice little gems in there. Mammoth tanks have 4 track pods.. no longer simply tilting when they go over a bump, now the trackpods follow the ground to give a much better physics effect on the tanks. All buildings can now be rotated (no more grid system for placing them) and theres a fully 3d camera to boot (can't zoom in as much as I'd like though). The fire effects are possibly the best though, a tank getting destroyed results in a short fire and explosion, complete with heat ripple effects.
The best part of the game for me though? The loadtimes... I've spent many a long hour playing Warhammer 40,000 Dawn of War, and am now used to being able to get up and make some toast, go to the toilet etc while it loads... the first time I played C&C3 I got up from my chair to make toast.. and the game was already playing! The longest I've clocked a game load time at is about 4 seconds, and that was just due to someone having a pc that wasn't quite up to scratch. I've never had a game load as fast as this, and for once I'm actually happy with EA for something to do with C&C :)
The worst part... the online system. As with most games that I have a problem with the online, it uses the gamespy framework. For the most part it seems to be okay.. but a fair few of the people I regularly play games online with can't even join games as it tells them they can't connect to the other players. Normally I'd simply presume they couldn't, but we know this isn't true because we can play using virtual LAN, or other games no problem. Most games I have never had a problem with but I can ALWAYS find something at fault with gamespy based systems.
A great game for old time players or new... and for me if you were to take away the Gamespy online system, and the horribly boring maps.. and you have what could easily be one of my favourite games!
- Review by J