Review by StavrosJ

"The best RTS out there right now"

After a long wait, and tons of delays with the release, command & conquer generals is finally out. With all the media and hype around it, I can safely say this is one game which lived up to everything.
GRAPHICS: 10/10
There's no question about it. CnC generals has the greatest looking graphics in an RTS ever. While the environments look detailed and great, the vehicles are sharp, with high poly count and have moving parts like wheels, treads, turrets, and in all cases, tanks recoil when they fire. Certain light vehicles when destroyed yield very cool animations. For instance, the GLA technical when blown up, flies in a direction reflective of how it was shot. So if it was shot while driving fast, the vehicle will fly off the ground but still move forward with inertia before exploding. You can even see the gunner get thrown into the air. Vehicles, when destroyed, don't simply disentigrate into pieces of charred metal. Most of the flying pieces from the explosion can actually be seen as the turret, the wheels and so on. The explosions and environmental effects are flawless. Explosions look powerful and realistic, as they yield both smoke and a flash of light, followed by a coloumn of well animated flame. (I should also note the flame effects in this game rival that of FPshooters) Vehicles leave treadmarks in the ground, but don't when travelling on asphalt. They can also run over trees and other objects inferior to it in size. The infantry aren't as detailed as the vehicles, but I'm not whining since it would raise the system requirements if they were. However, they are capable of amazingly detailed animations. For instance, the chinese hacker, when told to drain money off the internet, can be seen opening his lap top, pulling out a modem of some sort, kneeling, then typing. Wounded infantry either limp, or hold their stomachs and walk slowly, and as a non violent alternative, they fly back and tumble over when hit by vehicles instead of being squished. And, one of my favorite things is how the units and structures are as much to scale as possible, as opposed to WC3 where the infantry were nearly as big as the town centers. Overall, the graphics are unquestionably great. Anyone who says otherwise must be partially insane.
SOUND 9/10
CnC Generals also has solid sound, with all the weapon noises have a solid punch to them. The explosions sound appropriately loud, and they vary depending on what was destroyed. Trees make a loud rustling sound when rolled over, infantry cry out final words when at a low health(the funniest is probably the red guard who goes 'china! save me!'), and vehicles make engine noises when they move, and in the case of wheeled vehicles they make a screeching noise when accelerating hard. The downsides to the sound are that the chinese and GLA speak english, and it would have been so much better if both of them spoke in their native languages. However, given the slightly comedic nature of the game, this could be excused since the designers wanted a hollywood kind of war game. If this is what they aimed at, I'd say they have accomplished it in the voices. What I definitely did not agree to, however, is the change of music. CnC is known for its ultra cool soundtrack which is more than just ambient music, and in the original CnCs it was an adrenaline rush to storm an enemy base while a fast paced grunge rock tune played in the BG. Then EA pacific goes ahead and changes it to ambient music. I certainly hope in the future they release some kind of file that allows you to replace the orchestral tunes to this game. Overall, aside from this annoyance, the sound is great and matches every explosion, weapon fire and ambient noise.
GAMEPLAY 8/10
Wow! Terrific game. Generals not only looks and sounds good, but IS good because of the great, in depth gameplay. You choose 3 different sides to play: China, GLA, and the US. Each of these 3 sides are varied in every way, down to their resource collectors. While the playing strategy isn't as varied as, say, Warcraft 3(I don't like that game by the way), the different units and strengths and weaknesses to each side force the player to try different strategies. China is obviously the side with the most brute force, with really cool mobile nuclear cannons, red guard infantry that can operate more effectively in huge numbers, flame tanks that can wipe out an entire approaching light armor force, and of course, the traditional CnC double barrelled tank, which is at its full glory in this game. The US has a powerful airforce and some really heavily armored tanks, along with high tech upgrades that benefit their units the most. Their units are some of the most interesting in the game, such as the humm vee that can be upgraded to be a light armored multi-weapons platform, and the paladin tank which has a laser to take out missiles and infantry. The GLA are the sneakiest side of them all, rivalling NOD in their stealth tricks. While the GLA do have a decent armor force, their strength relies entirely on non-brute force methods since a GLA tank force of say, 6 tanks would easily lose to 3 or 4 US Crusader Tanks. The Generals system is also cool, with various upgrades you can spend points on the help you. You can't get all the upgrades, which makes the decision making of which upgrade to choose crucial. I would have liked it better if they kept the old Generals system though, but this one works well. Each unit in Generals is unique, capable of a secondary fire and various upgrades. The US soldier for instance, when fully upgraded, can, by himself, take out a group of 6 GLA soldiers with his machine gun and flashbangs, and can also capture buildings. The overlord tank can be upgraded with a propaganda tower, a chaingun, or a bunker, and when various overlord tanks with different upgrades are mixed they become a deadly force. The GLA technical can upgrade itself with a host of weapons such as machine guns, rocket launchers, and AA guns to make it a fast, versatile unit. It is these kind of upgrades that makes CnC general so in depth, and makes every single unit an asset to winning. Each side is clearly balanced, and I do mean balanced unlike many other RTS games where one side was clearly the crowd favorite. In generals, if you visit the multiplayer lobby, you'll notice that they keep a record of how many victories were USA, GLA or China, and that the percentage of victories for all 3 sides is nearly the same. One complaint that I have is that many of the CnC trademarkes were removed, such as the sidebar, the construction yard, the personal assistant, the intruiging story, and the great FMV with B movie acting that is worth completing each mission for. Also, there are too few single player missions. The first CnC had 40, yes 40 missions with branching paths, and I really would have liked the Generals team to have focussed more on the SP. Still though, the SP missions are fun, each presenting different situations, such as defending a convoy, or destroying an enemy outpost with limited resources and they are all worth playing. The superweapons are plenty in quantity, with A-10 airstrikes, fuel bombs and carpet bombing for the US, and nuclear bombs, artillary strikes and cluster mines for china. I havn't seen the GLA's, but I know they have a scud storm which I have felt and believe me its one hell of a superweapon. The game has greatly improved multiplayer over RA2, with a ranking system involving gaining or losing points, and a matching service. Overall, aside from the removal of some CnC trademarks, and the lack of Sp missions, Generals has terrific gameplay involving upgrading, micromanaging and so on.
STORY 5/10
Huh? what story? There is no story in Generals. None of the missions are linked in any way. Instead, they are all based on real world happenings. For instance, one of the US missions has you storm Baghdad. Still though, I really would have liked a story in this game and I definitely would have liked FMV sequences, which were the greatest in RA2 and T sun. It seems the developers focussed more on the multiplayer, but since I'm more of a single player person I would have liked a story in this game. Overall, story is nonexistant.
REPLAYABILITY 9/10
Despite the short single player, Generals has the skirmish mode which now lets you choose which spot on the map you want to be, and a map creator which I have yet figured out. The multiplayer should also be a blast especially when playing with your friends.
BUY OR RENT?
If you are a die hard CnC fan, rent this first. If you are like me, being a CnC fan but not an obsessive one, or if you are an RTS fan, then BUY THIS NOW. And, just as it is with any game you burn, its illegal and with a cd key you can't play multiplayer so hah.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 02/15/03, Updated 02/15/03


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