Command & Conquer: Generals
Review by y2mckay
"Really a mixed bag. Not worth upgrading your PC for"
Compared to the most recent entry I've played in the Westwood RTS universe (EMPEROR: BATTLE FOR DUNE), C&C GENERALS is surprisingly disappointing. Granted, I haven't played the entire thing through, nor is my system really high end enough to run it to its full potential. But still, I'm amazed by how much better EMPEROR looks compared to GENERALS.
One of my biggest gripes is the lack of dramatic cutscenes or storyline. What passes for cutscenes in the game are really just staged battles between in-game units. While each side has a distinct range of tactics and personality, It's not enough to compensate for the lack of quality cutscenes or a more compelling plot.
Now for the graphics and gameplay. While I will admit that my machine barely exceeds the sys reqs when it comes to processor speed and video card, the graphics left me underwhelmed. I even cranked up the resolution and detail levels to the max, and noticed little change. Now maybe my video card just can't process it to the full effect, but I've heard similar complaints from other gamers running it on machines much more high end than mine. How is it that EMPEROR can have better looking units, more lush environments, and faster gameplay using LESS sysreqs? It just looks better, and without all the grinding lag and insane load times of GENERALS. And let me back up a statement I've heard often - the infantry units look like crap. Way too blocky and stiff, even on high detail. And while the map designs are decent, with a nice high level of interactivity with civilian crowds and buildings (troops can occupy them for cover) as well as the landscape (tanks knock over trees and other obstacles in their path), it just doesn't look that good. Certainly not to the extent that the ''living world'' element in EMPEROR did, with blooming spice fields, worm attacks, and windstorms.
Now, let's move on to the control interface. It rather sucks. Instead of the usually unobtrusive sidebar, the interface panel is on the bottom of the screen. It's too bulky, and takes up too much space. It's also way too busy with all the pictures. Worst of all, you can't even build directly from the menu bar anymore. You actually have to go back to your base and click on a production building first, every time you want to build a new tank or trooper. Is this not a huge pain in the butt? The last thing I want to have to do when I'm out scouting or in the middle of a running battle is actually have to go back to the base and click around on buildings to create reinforcements. I've thought for years that the menu bar should be slimmed down to a purely icon-based menu, using silhouettes for the various units, rather than all these pictures that just take up space. Some bad calls were made on this control interface, even though you can create additional upgrades for individual units from it, which is kind of cool (each tank can have an aeiral gunner/repair drone that follows it around, for instance)
It's not a horrible game. But it's not nearly as addictive as TIBERIAN SUN was, nor is it as good-looking or immersive as EMPEROR. I would like to try it again sometime down the road, once I've upgraded my PC to some more high-end specs. But for now, I'm more than content to just stick with EMPEROR.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 02/18/03, Updated 02/18/03
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