Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars
|a game by||Electronic Arts Los Angeles|
|User Rating:||8.0/10 - 1 vote|
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It's Back! After a barren spell of over a decade, the original Command & Conquer franchise has come home, the prodigal son returning after years of wayward meanderings and ill-advised investments. Forget the debacle that was Tiberian Sun and the misjudged digression that was Generals - Tiberium Wars is the game we've been waiting for since that first, unforgettable moment way back in 1995 when the RTS genre was truly born.
It's a comeback of admirable proportions, like an old, much-loved slugger stepping back into the ring, a decade of saggy man-boobs replaced by a chiselled physique not seen since his heyday when he reigned supreme over his division. And while C&C3 may lack the tricks and guile of its more visionary title contenders (Total War, Supreme Commander), its old-school approach to combat still raises a nostalgic smile and sends a shot of adrenalin through calcified arteries as it conies out punching like its life depends on it.
The War Continues
The year is 2047. Tiberium - that energyrich yet dangerously toxic otherworldly power source - has spread to cover much of the known world. After several years of inactivity, the terrorist faction Nod suddenly strikes at the very heart of the world's peacekeepers the Global Defence Initiative (GDI), obliterating its entire chain of command in a single, devastating attack.
So begins the Third Tiberium War, a battle for global supremacy presented from two diametrically opposed perspectives and packed with enough twists and turns to make your head fall off. As your faction's leading battlefield commander, it's up to you to spearhead all military operations, taking orders from your commanding officers and, every once in a while, liaising with the head cheeses: Kane, Nod's enigmatic slap-headed leader and GDI Director Redmond Boyle, a glorified number juggler promoted by proxy to the head of GDI's military command when all of his superiors are wiped out by Nod's calculated attack.
Just Like Old Times
After the initial FMV formalities (for more on which check out the 'FMVs: The Verdict') you're thrown straight into the action, in a blistering, aesthetically sumptuous battlefield that screams, "C&C is back!" like a foghorn signalling the return of a super-tanker.
Tliis is C&C how you remember it from all those years ago: base-building, unitmassing, Tiberium-harvesting madness. It's RTS gaming in its purest form, bolstered by a myriad of additions and improvements that try to take the series' two-dimensional template and inflate it into a multifaceted yet recognisable strategy experience. And while the gameplay is still rooted in the build-and-rush mechanics of its forebears, C&C3, to its credit, does more than simply rest on the fading memories of past glories.
Tiberium Wars simply teems with excellent features that perfectly complement its established gameplay model. Infantry units, for instance, can now be garrisoned, allowing you to place them cunningly inside buildings for both height and armour advantage, spitting out bullets and missiles at enemies as they pass beneath, then tumbling to earth along with chunks of concrete after tanks pummel their hiding places to dust.
Directional unit armour is another feature that goes some way towards transforming the heedless skirmishes of yore into something approaching tactical subtlety - though admittedly, you'll still rarely (if ever) feel the need to employ any recognisable battle plans or flanking manoeuvres. Like it or not. sheer weight of numbers still takes precedence over cunning tactics in the C&C universe.
But that's kind of beside the point Y'see, Tiberium Wars isn't so much about innovation as it is about a slick, polished and exciting gaming experience. Tliere's nothing here whatsoever that'll make you coo with awe, rub your eyes with disbelief or drag your jaw along the floor, but conversely, there's little here that'll truly disappoint if you approach the game with eyes wide open.
If you're a C&C fan, you already know the drill. Build a base, fortify it collect resources, amass a force and hit the enemy as hard as you can. But unlike countless C&C copycats still doing the rounds these days, Tiberium IVors pulls off this template with an almost unparalleled finesse - so much so that you start to forgive it its archaic approach to RTS gaming.
Every nook, every corner, every second of your experience is buffed to the kind of sheen that will strip you of any lurking cynicism you may harbour. This is mass entertainment at its finest, a hugely accomplished piece of programming that will no doubt unify the hardcore and mainstream markets while placating us critics with the sheer joy of its pick-up-and-play action.
Put simply, RTS games don't come much more polished. Take player guidance, for example. Never - not once - arc you left in any doubt as to what you're supposed to be doing, where your next target is or what bearing your next objective will have on the outcome of a level, thanks to regular midmission briefings that keep you updated yet never patronised or mollycoddled. Visually, C&C3 is also beyond reproach. The engine purrs along like a finely tuned Ferrari, generating levels of detail that many other RTS games can't even sniff at, yet never compromising on performance. While Supreme Commander and Medieval II: Total War made even higher-end machines beg for mercy, Tiberium Wars wholeheartedly invites you to crank up the graphics settings to the max with a near-unparalleled smoothness of play, even on its largest, most demanding levels.
Spit And Polish
The attention to detail is also superb. Buildings degenerate as your shells and bullets pound them, sagging, cracking, charring and then tumbling down. Vanquished vehicles no longer just explode, they spew out their contents, sending ragdoll corpses arcing through the air on waves of fire. Meanwhile, back at your base, small repair droids buzz around autonomously fixing any damaged units that lie within your immediate borders.
Each building and unit has ittnwil character, distinct appearance and unique movement - a level of detail that makes a mockery of many of the game's rivals - while the interface is one of the most streamlined you'll see any time soon, with only the somewhat fiddly queuincj options coming in for any real criticism.
Every building you construct plays a key role in the race for unit upgrades and battlefield reinforcements, and while the upgrades may be? somewhat throwaway and simplistic, the range of reinforcements on offer is quite the opposite.
Ion Cannons, nukes, Orca strikes, additional infantry, sniper units, decoy armies, radar jamming, cloaks and mortar attacks are just some of the many trump cards you can call in to help sway the outcome of a battle, each with a beautifully clear icon situated on the left of the screen as it becomes available. In fact, they're so intuitive to use that incorporating them into your tactical vocabulary becomes second nature in no time.
So what about the units? Well, if truth be told, they're somewhat of a mixed bag, with both Nod and GDI's arsenals borrowing a too heavily from the original C&C for comfort.
All of the units you'd hope to see are pt esent and correct here (as well as a whole new arsenal once you've completed the two main campaigns). These include the terrorist faction's fire-spewing and stealth units or the GDI's hulking, twin-turreted Mammoth tanks that you'll welcome back with the type of sloppy kiss usually reserved for a long-lost loved one, especially once you hear the familiar squish of enemy corpses beneath your tracks.
Orcas and Venom assault craft buzz around the skies harassing ground units, while foot soldiers come equipped with the traditional line-up of machine guns, flamethrowers, bazookas and grenades (grenadiers can even throw their exploding pineapples from inside APCs, which is a great touch), and engineers can capture enemy buildings and units. What's more, units can gain promotions (making them more effective killers), and some can even be upgraded with railguns, jetpacks, mortars or superior armour.
Ain't Over Till It's Over
Much has changed in the world of RTS gaming since Command & Conquer made the genre a worldwide phenomenon, but to this day, the series' heritage and following remains as ardent as ever. After so many failed attempts to recapture the magic of the original game, EA LA must be congratulated on its success. Not only has it managed to raise the franchise from the grave dug by Command & Conquer Generals, it's also managed to create an RTS outing packed with entertainment and slick gameplay.
But, for all C&C3's entertainment value, for all its beautiful craftsmanship and stunning attention to detail, the fact remains that the RTS genre has moved on. We've gone beyond the basic build-and-rush premise represented here, and however brightly it gleams, Tiberium Wars still lacks the substance of some of its more modern and forward-thinking rivals.
Like a once-great champ who's come out of retirement for one last crack at the title, Command & Conquer: Tiberium Wars doesn't quite have enough tricks in its repertoire to defeat its younger, fresher opponents. But while it may be more contender than king these days, it still packs one hell of a punch. Welcome back C&C, we've missed you.
Download Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP