Review by ArtBoy
"So close and yet, so far."
So, I picked this game up the other day remembering fondly the heyday of Command & Conquer, leading my GDI forces against those naughty NODians. (Hey, remember that rocket tower bug? God that was fun!) ANYhow, I had heard lots of hype about the game, and had a $45 gift certificate to Best buy, so figured, what the heck. Let's get down to it.
The graphics in the game go from fantastic to something that looks like a high-school freshman's 3-d rendering project. The physics, animation, and details on the vehicles and most of the buildings are phenomenal. Tanks rock back with recoil when they fire, explosions send bits bouncing across terrain. Tracks are left in dirt and snow, trees and objects can be set aflame and run over. All around, a nice effect. But the infantry, with very VERY few exceptions, are in this game what a crayon drawing would be to a Rembrandt. All these fantastic models on vehicles, and then blocky, goofy-looking infantry with far too few polys and practically no textures. It looked to me like EA pussed out to save money and that the infantry was a last-minute add-on. However, it's not really enough to detract from the other eye-candy in the game.
While nothing spectacular, they're better than average. Units all say individual things, tank sounds are nice, explosions and off-screen effects are nice as well. The music is decent, but again, nothing really sparkles.
Again, another dichotomy. Some things are fantastic, while others look lie there were entirely neglected. Examples of the good : A more intuitive ''defend'' command tells a unit to attack any enemy that enters a radius at the best range. The ''General'' menu is interesting, and definitely is on the right track to something truly innovative. The ability to nab almost every unit you own and tell them to attack a single target still exists. HOWEVER, the bad : You know those kids that rode the short bus to school? The friendly AI was obviously one of those kids. I've had my monster tanks with long range sit and do nothing while obnoxious GLA rocket buggies pelted them to death. Friendly units have a tendency do move into other friendly's line-of-fire and take damage. While innovative, the General's menu could have been much more than it was. Selecting some units, like planes in hangars, or units behind one friggin' tree, can be a task at times as well.
Also, anyone who is a fan of C&C would probably be expecting SOME sort of over-the-top background story. Generals is utterly devoid of any back story. I was expecting more of an into to the game than showing Bush's and the head of the UN's mouths with some menacing music. Throughout the game, there are no cinematics that bear any resemblance to anything Westwood has done in the past, and the ones that do exist are mediocre. EA REALLY blew this part of the game. There is no storyline that really gets you involved. I remember when I played the first C&C, and my GDI advisor/general/mission guy became more stressed and exhausted looking as the game was reaching a climax. With Generals, you get some person who gives you assignments, and that's about it.
Bottom Line 6/10 : Interesting units and upgrades are fun to use and don't disappoint. While skirmish and multiplayer are still fun, and the game itself is entertaining, this seemed to fall fantastically short of it's potential. Also, there are some unusual issues which cause a great deal of slow-down, even on the mightiest PC's. (And I should know. I have a P4 3.06 GHz with HT-Tech, a Radeon 9700 Pro, 512 MB PC 1066 RDRAM and a 200 GB drive.) Also, there are bad reports about net-play all around. I think that EA got lazy near the end and pushed this through production without revising some really, REALLY crappy coding. I doubt there was even a decent beta for this game. This strikes me as odd, seeing as EA did such an amazing job on Medal of Honor : Allied Assault (though apparently Spearhead was not nearly as special) and has lots of experience under it's belt. Despite it's faults, the game is still fun for me. However I'd recommend trying it at a friends or DLing the demo before dropping $40 on this one.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 03/14/03, Updated 03/14/03
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