1995 - Didn't re-wright the RTS genre, but made it exciting to play.
1996 - C&C with a nitro boost with old and new units.
1999 - Back to the original story line, but with a vision of future warfare.
2000 - Another visit to the crazy alternate version of earth. Things did start to go a tad off the rails.
2003 - New owner, new story. Well balanced game with lots of new toys.
2007 - Kane returns to battle Alien scum. 12years of making games, delivers arguably the best C&C.
2008 - Over the top with too many weird things and just aliened the core C&C players.
2010 - The final chapter to the Tiberian saga, ends with utter disappointment. NO base building and strict unit caps. WTF where you thinking?
Evolution of the overpowered tank.
C&C95 - GDI Mammoth Tank
Red Alert - Soviet Mammoth Tank
Tiberian Sun - Mammoth MkII
Red Alert 2 - Apocalypse Tank
Generals - Overload
Tiberian Wars - GDI Mammoth Tank
Red Alert 3 - Apocalypse Tank
Tiberian Twilight - Mastodon
Welcome back Commander
Command and Conquer (C&C) is the first computer game I became engrossed in and quite possibly started my craze for gaming. I have no idea why my father purchased C&C back in 95, all I can say is thank god he did. I was 11 years old and can remember my dad spending plenty of time upstairs at the PC. I had my own SEGA Master System II in my room, but no game I had compared to the base building, tanks and strategy involved with this monster title. I may have had to reduce the speed of the game so I could keep track of everything happening at once, but this didn’t deter me one bit.
However, strategy involving tanks wasn’t new to me. My Grandfather was in the Army after the Second World War and as a hobby after he left. He collected and built scale model tank kits. But by the time I was born in 1984 the collection included all factions from WWII with various types of tanks, from the smaller Sherman’s and Panzers to the mighty Tiger Tanks and T-34s. His collection also included field Cannons, Artillery and piles of infantry.
When I was younger and all the way to my teens when he passed away, my grandfather, father and I would take over the whole of the downstairs and we would play out scenarios and battles from WWII. To complete the illusion he also had scale houses, rivers, hedges, trees and square tiles of carpet to act as farming fields. Because my Grandfather was well versed in these vehicles, he had also written up tables of numbers for each vehicle. Movement speed in centimetres for road and grass, whether it be forward or backwards. Armour for the front, side and back and chances of getting kills with its main cannon and secondary machine guns, it all looked like something from Dungeons and Dragons. We would write up objectives for each side (not necessarily blasting the other side to bits) and armed with a ruler and a pair of dice we were set. From construction of the area, play time and packing away took most the day, but those few days we’re great fun and taught me about micro-management, strategy and taking chances while also learning about history of WWII, whether or not the scenario played out as it happened all those years ago.
Adding the base building and resource collecting to this wasn’t as taxing as I thought it would be. The missions involving Mobile Construction Vehicle’s (MCV)s where always the easiest, with having effectively unlimited resources and plenty of chances to complete the objectives. Where I did struggle were the non-base building missions, even to the point where I had to learn which path to avoid a certain missions. (Even to this day have never been able to accomplish one of the optional mission4). The gameplay and story where spot on, Joseph D. Kuncan brilliant performance as the NOD leader Kane gave the game character. The gameplay also shined, by slowly unlocking extra and better units as the game progressed. It taught you what you needed to know for each unit, more so the NOD campaign. GDI has always been the stronger at face value; the Brotherhood required a lot of micro-management to be effective. The underlining fact of the game was every unit and soldier had its place, even the early weaker ones. Im sorry but Rocket Soldiers where no problem for a few Flame tanks or GDI’s MRLS, you just had to learn to have your units target its ideal enemy.
The main unit that stood out for me was the GDI Mammoth Tank. Nothing could stop six of these beasts head on; trouble was getting them built in the first place. The computer would attack periodically while you built into your tech tree to unlock the better units, leaving you vulnerable to attack. Combined with the painfully slow harvesters only carrying 700credits and Mammoths costing 2500credits, it took time. However, talking to a friend at School who also played the game, he swore by NODs Light Tanks. I laughed it off as two or three salvos from a mighty Mammoth would destroy a Light Tank no problem. But playing the NOD campaign you learn the true meaning of en-masse. During its time I continually studied the manual that came with the game, giving a brief description of the buildings and vehicles available in the game, its strengths and weaknesses. I thing I do regret is never playing C&C 95 against another human player or even skirmish (against an AI). Several NOD units were missing from the Campaign, like the Apache, SSM Launcher and the Chem Spray infantry. I quite often found myself replaying the same GDI mission toward the end of the campaign. As it granted me the building of Mammoth Tanks and allowed use of the Ion Cannon satellite, able to rain down a beam of light and destroy any pesky Obelisk of Light humming before it could attack my units.
I had no idea Red Alert had been released until I visited my Aunty and Uncles house. I left the adults talking down stairs at 10am and before I realised it was time for dinner at 6pm. 8 hours I played it solid, I had started both campaigns and dabbled with the new skirmish mode. It was a complete breath of fresh air with a much faster pace. The similarities between the first game meant there wasn’t much extra to learn. A lot of the building icons where even duplicates and many vehicles performed and looked the same. The biggest improvement I liked was the ore trucks being able to collect the resources much faster than the Tiberian Harvesters. This meant the game progressed at a much faster pace, base building wasn’t a chore anymore and even the Soviet Mammoth Tanks had a speed boost. The addition of Navel units also shake'd things up and offered different tactics. Like Chromosphering an Allied Cruiser next to your enemies base and watching it lay waste.
Obviously I persuaded my dad to purchase the game and we both began our own carers, time sharing the PC much to my mother’s annoyance. The campaign itself didn’t feel as good as the first game. Time travel storylines need to be done very carefully and although it was great to see what would happen without Hitler before WWII, there was a definite fantasy feel of the game. But later in life, I did learn the developers just went crazy with the Red Alert series. Bound by little rules only limited by their imagination. I was however my first experience playing against another human opponent. My father hooked up the main PC to my Laptop, (bought for my school studies) and I didn’t fair to well, mainly because he cheated. He would build a line of Tesla Coil’s and SAM sites across the whole map and directly into my base.
I knew Tiberian Sun was about before its release, when flicking though a PC Gamer Magazine in a shop. I saw a massive preview and proceed to buy the magazine just for that one reason. It played slower like the first Tiberian game, but what impressed me the most was their idea of the future. Tanks no longer had wheels but walked and hovered. NOD units progressed with stealth technology with a few Cyborgs thrown in. Yes, it required more micromanaged. But by now I had two games under my belt and quickly blasting thought the well scripted and acted campaign and begin my endless hours on skirmish. One game I played against a neighbour on Tiberian Sun will be my most memorable. I rushed through my tech tree to build the four legged beast, the Mammoth Tank MkII. I Orca carried it behind his base and by the time his Harvesters where destroyed, he had nothing left. With all his base defences pointing the other way I went on the rampage destroying his base back to front.
Red Alert 2 went much the same way as the first, just even more crazy. Attack Squids and Dolphins, say no more. Every mission I either spammed Prism or Apocalypse Tanks. En Mass these could deal with everything. Skirmish was no different, fast paced but little skill or strategy involved. The story was even more stupid with mind control and over the top acting. I suppose it worked on a level, but I craved a more serious game at the time.
I was rather late to the party with Generals; I was now living with my wife in our first home and had no PC. When we finally did get one, the wife wish we hadn’t. My PS2 was getting good use but limited to the few games I had, I was getting bored. Enter my first ever taste of online gaming. Skirmish against a Computer AI is fine, but after a while you earn its tactics and can predict its movements and strategy’s very easily. Not only was I engrossed in the new style C&C had, thanks to EA now taking over the series. But with the whole world eager to play against, getting me off the PC quickly became a problem. One of the biggest changes was the MCV’s being replaced with the Dozers. Having to place the building where you wanted before construction began, was strange. This was completely different to previous titles where they were built in the side bar, then placed when they reached 100%. This also meant bases where bigger as structures didn’t need to be in close proximity to each other. Another great addiction was unit building, before one War factory produced one tank at a time. Building another War Factory slightly reduced the build time of that one tank. Now having multiple vehicle building structures meant several tanks could be built at the same time. Combined with a range of balanced units across all three of the factions, it was a very enjoyable game both on and offline. My only criticism is the lack of cut-scenes and story. These we’re played out using in game units and soldiers. Nice idea, but it didn’t work.
Tiberian Wars brought us back to the original storyline of GDI vs NOD. But, with the vast improvements in gameplay and lessons learnt from Generals and all previous titles. Building bases wasn’t a chore and strategy was easy and fun. I had to learn to use the right button on the mouse to order my units around. This was due to that other recent RTS games had adopted this style and EA didn’t want to alienate people switching over. A minor detail, that was quickly overcome. The addiction of the Alien faction, did divide many fans, but their addition to the campaign was limited and didn't deter from the main story. Infantry squads instead of a lone solder was another noticeable addition. Having a six man squad reduced to two almost made you feel sorry for the poor defenceless chaps. With tons of upgrades and superpowers tactics where there in a abundance, you just had to find them. As a whole I spent far too much time online than I should have, my first child was quickly growing up and I was glued to C&C online. Using the same tactics my father used on Red Alert, I built base defences to attack enemy bases and I may have helped in the patching and buff of the Scrim Mothership instantly wiping out bases with a single strike.
I stopped playing PC when the PS3 and Xbox360 took off and I traded my C&C fixation for Call of Duty. Red Alert 3 didn’t bother me and with now having spent just three hours playing it, I just cant put into words how awful it is. maybe if they spent less money on famous actors and women pouncing in very little clothing, they may have came up with a more engaging title? Tiberian Twilight did interest me, but a lack of a PC to match its specifications meant I read it was messed up and disrespectful of the story before I finally loaded up the game. C&C4 wasn’t a bad game. But when you’re signing off one of the greatest franchises in gaming history, with no base building or resource gathering it’s a joke. Too many times, I entered a stalemate with MCVs building endless units to no advantage or progression of the game. Online was more enjoyable, it kept the game moving and by removing to slow base building I can see their idea. But you just don’t try something new with a game as important as this.
We stand now, with many fans left disappointed, with two massive and game ending mistakes and a free-to-play re-boot cancelled. This truly looks to be the end of Command & Conquer. But it can hold its head high. Westwood Studios defined a genre with C&C back in 1995 and shaped games that followed. It was the bench mark that all RTS where marked against. Their great success was to be their downfall; you just couldn’t improve on perfection.