The year was 1995. Westwood Studios had just shipped its latest and greatest creation. Command and Conquer or, C&C for short is a real time strategy game which pits the GDI (Global Defensive Initiative) against a terrorist group known as The Brotherhood of Nod, which is led by their charismatic leader Kane. The two forces are fighting over a substance that has appeared on the earth, a radioactive substance known as Tiberium. You see the GDI think Tiberium is something to be feared, and destroyed. Nod however thinks that it is the key to the next level of human evolution. Thus the Tiberium Wars began.
We fast forward 12 years and a new developer later and EA has released Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars on the Xbox 360 of all places. I know what some of you might be thinking. How can a genre of game that is primarily played on the PC possibly be any good on a console? Well I am here to tell you that EA has done a wonderful job transferring the game. The PC still has the upper hand in that a keyboard and mouse control is faster and offers more control, but the fact that it is just an upper hand shows how far we have come in putting real time strategy games on the consoles. If you played LOTR: Battlefield for Middle Earth 2 you know what to expect control wise.
There will be times when the controls will work against you more than with you, but that is only because is LOTR you had slow moving Ogres, and Elves running through forests. In C&C you have fast moving tanks, and jets that once you send on their way will be there before you can alter their attack plan. It is not something that breaks the game; it just might cause you to lose a mission once or twice until you get your attack plan right. Now that we have covered the controls lets jump right into the meat of the game.
In 2047, Tiberium has blanketed the Earth, which is now divided into zones based on the level of Tiberium infestation. Pristine Blue Zones represent 20% of the planet’s surface and are the last refuge of the civilized world. Partially habitable Yellow Zones make up 50% of the planet’s surface; most of the world’s population lives in these war-torn and ecologically ravaged areas. The remaining 30% of the planet is uninhabitable, a Tiberium wasteland swept by violent Ion Storms. Red Zones are like the surface of an Alien planet.
The GDI are doing what they can to fight the spread. While of course the Brotherhood of NOD is trying to help the growth along. That is until the alien Scrin show up with their own agenda. The game offers three single-player campaigns, one for each of the factions. You start with GDI missions which in turn open up the NOD missions. After you finish both campaigns you will unlock the Scrin missions. In between each mission you will be treated to a High-Def cut scene which will brief you on your mission. This is one of those things that C&C is known for, and this time around they have some big name stars to bring the characters to life. Billy Dee Williams, Grace Park, Michael Ironside, and Joseph D Kucan returns to the series as Kane just to name a few.
You start off with a “Boot Camp” of 13 tutorials, which lead you into the basic game play and control features. Each faction has an ample selection of units that range from foot soldiers to wheeled vehicles to flying craft, and all the building structures that help generate them (and the Tiberium resources they need to operate). There are also special powers that come available in certain missions, including bombing runs and nuke-type weapons. You will run into a bit of a learning curve as you gain more and more units and try to figure out what does what.
Once you learn though you will know the difference to a winning unit and one’s you can sacrifice. The units across all three of the factions feel somewhat balanced; you never get the feeling that you don’t have an effective unit to stop one attacking your base. If you are one of those people who have to complete 100% of a mission so you can get the highest score or biggest achievement this game offers a wealth of side missions that you can tackle before you handle the main objective. Some of these are easy, most of them are difficult to complete without the ole trial and error approach.
The game also features a robust multiplayer section for up to four people, which offers various game play modes: Capture the Flag in which all players compete to snag a single flag in the center; Versus, which is a somewhat standard free-for-all death match; and Siege, which is a death match that delays the start of the combat with walls and a timer, giving players the chance to amass a lot of units for when the walls drop and all hell breaks loose. C&C 3 also offers vision camera support so that you can see the faces of your opponents. So if you crack under the pressure of your base being over-run by fleet upon fleet of Mammoth Tanks you might want to turn your camera off.
Visually this game gets the job done. Each unit has a distinct look, and feel. Combat is filled with lots of smoke, lasers, and debris and particle effects. What’s really impressive is the little things, as missiles hit the ground large holes will appear, buildings will darken and fall apart as damage is done to them. One particularly cool animation was the Hand of Nod building, it has a large had holding a gold orb, when the building is destroyed the orb falls to the ground and rolls around and it actually killed one the soldiers attacking my base.
C&C 3 is a very good game that is not be missed if you are a fan of RTS games. The only sore spot in the game is the controls, I commend EA for doing a wonderful job, but because of how fast paced C&C can be you will have to wrestle with them for a little while until you can get them all down. Multiplayer is a blast to play with your friends and the addition of the vision camera can be really fun if you have a friend who gets really pissed as he is losing. Seeing controls fly across a room is very funny! So if you’re curious about one of the top RTS franchises (Starcraft is number 1!) or you just want to take a break from the Halo beta, pick this one up.