Review by Whelk

"Politically poignant pandemonium!! Prepare to purchase powerful enough PC."

C + C generals.. In a sentence? It takes almost as long to install as it does to build a trooper. This game can be very slow, if you aren't properly equipped with a good PC. That said, the physics and detail in this game are so cool it almost hurts to go back to anything else. The downside, of course, is that it's rather inefficient at using CPUs. A small note before we break it down, as is the custom of this place.

Beware: If you're a politically aligned person, you might want to steer clear of this game - all three armies are chock full of comical stereotypes - from the grubby GLA worker complaining he doesn't have any shoes, to the chinese hacker's chuckles about stealing cash, to the american do-gooder's sarcastic sounding claims of ''we do it because it's right''.

All ready? Get your hat, if you've got nothing better to do.

Graphics Models:10/10 Textures: 4/10 Physics 10/10
What could be more fun than tripping up the GLA technicals and watching the driver's elegant parabolic flight path as he sails face first into a rock? Every animation, every movement, is just great in this game. The tanks leave frightningly realistic tracks when they move, the gun barrel of a sniper hiding in a building actually sticks out to fire.. you can even trace enemy movements by the effect they leave on the landscape. My only gripe is that the textures are grainy and somewhat uninspired. Civilian signs, for example, are usually unreadable. Texture art is a difficult thing to do well, though - so I'll forgive EA Pacific if they promise to step it back up a notch.

Sounds Accuracy: 8/10 Annoyance factor: 7/10 Music: 8/10
First off, the music in parts of this game is technically superb, but ill-timed. The music for various events is always too short lived, and cuts out at inappropriate parts. Most of the other sound effects are bang-on. It is a scant few of them which make you tilt your head and say ''What was THAT supposed to be?'' Most of the unit acknowledgements are varied enough that they don't get annoying quickly, but distinctive enough to recognize. However, the notification speech (I guess it's your liutenant or whatever) is rarely useful and gets old real fast. All in all, playing this game with the sound off doesn't really change the enjoyment for me.

Gameplay Strategy: 9/10 Interesting play dynamics: 8/10 Loyalty to series: 4/10
This game, although excellent in and of itself, is not really a command and conquer game. It's the first one for a lot of play dynamics. I'll try to list them.
1. building something requires a unit which can build anywhere - in past c&c games, you just chose a position near an existing building.
2. bottom-mounted menu - all past c&c's had the menu on the right hand side.
3. Resources are in a ''mine'' arrangement instead of a ''scattered'' arrangement
4. Fewest tiers of research of any c&c game so far - most games end in swarming of same units from early game.
5. No engineers! And most repairs have to be conducted by your bulldozers.
Does this sound familiar? It seems like EA decided to forego everything that made c&c what it is, and instead copy a particular game on the market already, due to its success. This game will remain unnamed but I think you all know what it is, Zugzug.

In any case, this game *did* come up with a few very original and fun game dynamics, without which it would simply be eye candy. I'll try to list the features which are unique, since I know that's what you're looking for in this review.
1.Lowest troop can capture buildings - Yes, the grunts and red guard can take over enemy buildings like the engineer of yore, and unlike the engineer they need to spend time doing it, and can be shot while trying. So much for those engineer rushes we all hated so much.
2.All armies have units or buildings that generate money out of nowhere. Neat-o. The chinese hacker actually gets promotions just for generating money.
3.Upgrades and special abilities are purchased with generalship points. This is a lot like the yin/yang system in Battle Realms - Except that some abilities have 3 levels of possible upgrade.
4.Bravest Game out today, in light of recent world events. EA Pacific spares no second thought on parodying america's war with Afghanistan and Iraq, and pop Chinese culture.
5.Flying Resource collector on the USA team.
6.First 3d c&c!!

Availability CPU efficiency: 2/10 Net Code: 5/10 Adjustability 6/10
There's an options screen in this where you can supposedly change several graphic detail levels, but it barely makes any difference in speed or in looks. The sliders may not function but the check boxes do, so it gets 6 for that. The net play even with computers which I know are usually lightning fast to each other is riddled with ingame connection errors and waiting times. Unfortunately, net code has never been EA's strong point. It's a shame they got hold of what westwood had been doing such a great job on, in that respect. Furthermore, this game simply has some sloppy coding. Given the amount of activity and detail on the screen, it should be easily runnable by a pIII 800 (anything lower and the game will refuse to start, by the way) and should scream on a 1 ghz. Yet it only reaches its full speed potential on a 1600 or higher speed machine, or a very well tweaked 1333. Lowering the detail should actually lower the detail - then perhaps this might be a little bit less of a problem, but I think with little cut in the canned coding this game could run a lot better.

replay value Single Player: 8/10 Multiplayer: 7/10
Interestingly, the single player mode outside of the campaign has a bunch of medals to earn - this is something you don't usually see in a skirmish mode of an RTS. An excellent boost to replayability since you might play some extra games to get those medals where you would otherwise just quit. Multiplayer isn't really stocked with a lot of opponents, unfortunately. Much better to simply play on a LAN with your friends - c&c has always provided more interesting strategic challenges when you somewhat know the mind you are up against, and this is no exception. Then again, the build orders are strict and simple, and there is not a lot of room for strategy variation - once you learn how, it is easy to simply find out what the enemy is doing and build the unit that beats it.

At its highest level this game, unfortunately, becomes a rock-paper-scissors match. Which isn't entirely bad, since classic rock-paper-scissors never had such cool looking scud missiles.

fin Skip this game unless you have a killer PC. For C&C Generals, that is really the factor that makes the difference in a great experience and a frustrating one.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 02/14/03, Updated 02/14/03

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