Command & Conquer
Command & Conquer is a real-time action-strategy game that tests your reflexes as well as your planning and strategic skills. The game takes place in the near future, and the story line is clearly told via cinematics. There are main characters that play large roles as the game unfolds, but most of your time will be spent battling it out with your enemy. The interface of the game is a top-down perspective so you can see all of your units moving about and (hopefully) accomplishing their tasks. From this view you can control every aspect of the game. The view only shifts when you win a battle (this could take hours), and a nicely-done cut-scene expands on the story and prepares you for your next mission. After you have completed all the missions for either side (15 or so), you win the game. There are two sides to play -- GDI or NOD -- and the story is different for each. I played both sides all the way through, and the game was still fun after I finished. The best part about C&C is the multiplayer capability where you can have up to four players battling it out at once. Although it's not without flaws, Command & Conquer is one of the best games I've ever played; check out my review and find out why.
The first thing you do after you install the game is watch the nicely-done introduction. This sets the stage for the entire game and allows the player to really get into the storyline. Westwood did a great job with storyline and cut-scenes in Command & Conquer, which (for me) made this game one of the best ever. Most games for me don't have that extra frosting like C&C does, with the smooth transitions and well-done video. I admit, the videos and story elements of a game are not everything, but they sure polish a game up if done correctly. C&C gets an A+ in this area.
Gameplay and graphics are the most important elements in a game for me. C&C does both of these well. Standard VGA graphics are not the sharpest, but they do very well with what they have. Westwood will be upgrading to SVGA with their new release, Red Alert, due out in late September. Gameplay is great with C&C and I have just a few complaints which I will touch on later; first, the things I liked. I loved all the different units each side had and all the unique abilities available at the player's disposal. I switched from one side to the other several times, trying to decide which one I liked better. Westwood did a good job at balancing the sides so one was not overpowering the other all the time. When you start the game, it is apparent that the NOD team is the devious, sneaky, no-good, third-world gonna-take-over-the-universe type. The GDI team is the fine, organized, sharp-looking, freedom-fighter, defend-the-earth-against-all-evil type. At first (if you do what I did) you may pick sides based on the type of person you are. So you have picked a side; now it's time to wreck havoc on the enemy.
The missions are laid out from very easy at first, to progressively more challenging. The player chooses from a world map which territory to attack, then the mission briefing begins. After the neat video, you are off and running in the heat of battle. An average mission will take about 2 or 3 hours to complete; that's not counting the first 2 or 3 that will only take a few minutes at best. Mission by mission, the game and story progress until you have won that last victory and the game ends. Time to switch sides and start over! Orrrrr ... call your friends and blow them off the face of the earth! That's just what I did, and that's where C&C shines the most. It's a whole different game when suddenly you don't know what the other player is going to do. My friends and I have played over the modem one-on-one or over a network with four of us at once; both ways are fun. The interface is easy, and modem gameplay is smooth and seamless on anything better than a 486 50. I played a friend who had a 486SX 25 and that was dog-slow, but who has those anymore? Overall, C&C is one of my all-time favorite games.
Now I'll get to the few things I did not like about the game. First of all, after a couple of weeks, I had figured out the computer AI and playing solo was not as rewarding anymore. I also got frustrated when my harvesters were being stupid and I had to baby-sit them while my base was getting crushed. There are a few things Westwood did not catch when designing the game that the player could use to his advantage, making the game unenjoyable. A few of these are: * You can build sandbags all over the battlefield, into the enemy's base, then build a turret or guard tower to crush him from the inside out. * If you are NOD, to win you just have to build 20 or so recon bikes, put them in packs of 8, and say goodbye to whoever was dumb enough to play you. * Tanks can't destroy one little soldier with their 20MM cannons at point blank range. This frustrated me forever. * Harvesters are stupid. Enough said. * The battlefield is too small. (This will be corrected in Red Alert.) * Once you go everywhere on the map, you can always see it. Now you can watch your enemy everywhere he goes. * Helicopters can't map. WHAT? That's why I'd buy one anyway. Logically, I would think they would be the best mappers because they can FLY! * Each time you make a commando SNEAK into the enemy's base, he yells, "Ready to rock and roll!" and all players can hear it.
486-DX2 66, 8 MB RAM, VGA card (1 MB VRAM), mouse, SoundBlaster-compatible sound card, 14.4 modem (for network play)
Reviewed On: P-133 MHz, 16 MG, SB 16, Diamond Stealth video w/ 2 MB DRAM.
Aside from these gripes, the game is great. I know Westwood is working on these items for their next release due out this fall, so I have full confidence I will enjoy Red Alert even more. If you are a fan of real time simulations, then C&C should be on the top of your list to get. But if you don't like sweating, biting your nails and yelling at your computer screen, you'd better stay away from this one. Enjoy!