Review by EDDY555

Reviewed: 11/29/02 | Updated: 09/29/04

Fight, Win, Prevail!

The first major entry in the genre of Real-Time Strategy (RTS) was Dune, yet it wasn’t until Command & Conquer's release in 1995 that RTS suddenly became all the rage. 9 years later, it remains a gem.

Sometime this century, a meteor strikes the Earth. It contains Tiberium, a valuable but hazardous green substance that grows rapidly. The Brotherhood of Nod, an underground faction which dates back centuries, chooses this new generation as a time to rise from the shadows and take control, as Tiberium has limitless economic potential. Nod are led by the enigmatic prophet Kane and spring a surprise attack on the world. The GDI, a UN-funded peace-keeping organisation, dispatches troops to stop the Brotherhood. However, Nod, who were supposed to be no match for GDI, prove to be wealthy, connected and heavily armed terrorists.

You can collaborate with the side of your choice. Nod’s front is a religion with the belief of “Brotherhood. Unity. Peace.”, which especially appeals to Third World nations. GDI are protecting the developing countries from Nod and this is one of Kane’s key areas for expansion - therefore, as Nod you have to crush GDI in Africa.

Meanwhile, the GDI are fighting on a European front. Kane is using a combination of hit-and-run military tactics and media manipulation to undermine GDI here, and he’s winning. GDI’s ultimate objective is to neutralise Kane, although millions of Nod fanatics stand in their way. Both campaigns get very difficult very early, but the satisfaction of victory after slogging away for hours is worth it.

Famously tongue-in-cheek briefing videos introduce the action. The cast of characters, including General Sheppard, a smug news reporter called Eric Randall, Kane’s right hand man Seth and Kane himself, raise a fair few laughs, their deadpan delivery creating a host of memorable moments.

Once you’re into the thick of things, you’ll discover that the armies are radically different, each with personal strengths and weaknesses. Success will only come when you know how to work efficiently. To build a base, you select the structure you want and credits are deducted from your bank balance. Building a refinery allows the collection of Tiberium, which is turned into more credits for more structures. Once you have a war factory and a barracks, you can train commandos and pump out tanks to take on your adversaries. To control a unit, you select it with your left mouse button, and then click where you want the unit to move or what you want it to attack. It's simple stuff and indicates how easy it is to pick up the basics of this universally loved game.

The playing map is rather zoomed out, so I often find myself squinting at the toy soldiers and micro machines. That said, such a quirky approach to graphics in a game about war gives C&C a tinge of unique charm, and you can’t imagine it being any different.

C&C would be pretty dry without its blazing music, but thanks to the ingenious Frank Klepacki, battlefield effects are complimented by several terrific techno-industrial tracks. The developers used Klepacki regularly in subsequent games, and it's easy to see why.

For your money, you get a pair of lengthy and enjoyable campaigns – though with frequently basic objectives – against the computer, and the ability to play skirmishes over the Internet against human players. This keeps the challenge varied as opposed to systematic.

The game may be old, but it's done what so many would-be classics haven't: aged well. All I know is that RTS rarely comes as sumptuous as Command & Conquer.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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