Command & Conquer: Generals
Review by SirWallace
"Warcraft Tournament 1999"
I still play Red Alert 2, it's just that much fun for me. It's a blast to re-visit and replay the singleplayer after all this time simply because of the entertainment value, the characters, the over the top story and the gameplay. That's the kind of game that I enjoy, and EA has spent a lot of time talking up the latest addition to the series: Command and Conquer: Generals.
At least, it's says EA during the intro, which I had to double check on the box to make sure it wasn't co-developed by Blizzard.
All this fun has been replaced with ''realism'' in Generals, much to the game's detriment. Gone is the wacky alternate timeline where Adolf Hitler was erased, and in comes, well, not much really. I kept looking for a story, but there really isn't one here.
What else has changed? The interface has been moved from the right to the bottom, to make things more like Warcraft. Base building has been altered to be more like Warcraft. Unit construction has been made to be more like Warcraft. The fog of war now works like WarCraft.
Why don't we just play Warcraft?
A lot of people rave about the graphics. Sure the explosions are nice, and some of the effects are too, but it's just not up to creating great in-game movies yet, nor is there any reason to have a zoom function unless you want to see how bad things look up close. For example, many of the movies have an up close look at the troops. They're not carrying guns, they're running around with giant planks of wood that shoot at people. The water effects are lousy Quake I ''morphing'' effects. Plus, for some reason, the requirements call for a ninja PC in order to run it, although there is little apparent need for it, so points off just for that. Ground Control already looked this good, and that's a few years old already.
On the plus side, the explosions are done well, the nuke, and mini-nuke effects, the vehicle explosions, the flame tanks, the projectile weapons actually look like projectiles and not a line.
These are top notch, and hard to find flaws in them. Nicely done vehicle movements, infantry limping when hurt, wheels and passengers flying, the plane crashes, building construction, dams bursting, bridges collapsing, it's all good. The chinook crashes are kinda odd, but you rarely see one, so it's not a big deal.
It's all good here too, and quite amusing at times, especially given the real world political events. Some may say that the Middle East gets shortchanged again as the terrorists, but the USA isn't spared this time round either thankfully, giving it the paradoxical ''I wage war for peace'' message, which is very timely.
The music isn't half bad either. There's no really good tracks like in previous C&C games (with the exception of TS),but the China music is quite catchy.
Real Time Strategy takes a giant leap: backwards. Arrghh. Nobody got the developers to play any of the other C&C games. Too many late nights playing Warcraft and Starcraft, but probably not Warcraft 3, nor Age of Empires, nor Red Alert 2 either. Units stand around being shot at without returning fire, clipping problems (yes, your infantry pass right through your own tanks), pathing problems. There is an excuse of a formations option, but all this should be automatic by now. No real guarding options, and for some reason, given all the added realism, the ''spies'' are actually invisible now, and not redressed as one of your own units. Huh?
It started off quite well, and there's the odd trip into a real world location, like Hong Kong's convention centre, but then it degenerates into Kreblachistan-bland desert scenarios, or random European forest. It's really a fight to complete the game, there's so little interest to actually finish it.
I can't really play multiplayer much to say how fun it is, my PC doesn't have a T3 line and a GeForce SSE 9700 to play it with. I tried to, but it's just too laggy, too many disconnects. Reminds me of C&C: Renegade, is there some recycled code here?
Also, this is the first C&C game that comes on two discs, and doesn't allow the second disc to be used for a LAN game, which is another departure from C&C, as this has been a mainstay of the series from the beginning. However, this turns out to be no big loss, as the other computers here can't run it, the desktops don't have the CPU, the laptops don't have the graphics cards.
The entire game can be summarised by the well-done menu backdrop. Instead of the usual bland, nothing going on menus, there's a live battle going on in the background, which is very nice to look at. Save yourself the trouble, don't play the game for 10 hours, watch the menu for 10 hours instead. It's about the same level of immersion, and your finger doesn't hurt from clicking so much.
I'm disappointed, but I'm holding out hope for Generals 2, much like Red Alert 2 fixed all that was wrong with Tiberian Sun. Obviously, this one was released out the door to get in some money, rather than polish it for a few more months. There's a good base to work from here, and all the flaws, which may ultimately spoil Generals 1, can be redressed for Generals 2.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 02/16/03, Updated 02/16/03
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