Review by Lord Zophar

"I didn't play... I commanded!"

Let me open by saying that this game was pretty much everything I expected. Great gameplay, good graphics, new concepts and ideas, and everything else good. That said, onto the review!

While utterly irrelevant in a game like this, I still like a nice, solid reason as to why everyone wants to fight. This game, however, doesn't really give one. The opening cinematic (very nice) explains enough to give the game a 6, I suppose, but more background would have been a lot better. I also believes the manual explains a little bit, but not much. The missions also lack a great reason why the GLA is ''stealing a nuke'' or why China is ''being attacked by terrorists'', but this game is stand alone fun alone, story or not.

I gave it to this score because while there are many strategic ways to complete a mission in the game. It can usually just be won by numbers, rather than strategy. Although this can be true, there is a strategy element that comes into play such as certain units being better than others. Example:Mobs for the GLA are an effective unit and could take out an enemy when massed. However; they can be stopped easy with the USA's ranger armed with the flashbang upgrade. Also, the missions in the game offer a wide variety of goals and objectives. Although this is great fun, it can become a bit tedious playing one race all the time. This is where the great part of 3 separate factions come in! Grow tired of one? Well, play a completely different one for more fun! This game will keep you entertained for ages as there are millions of strategies for you to try. With all the great units and variety, you can carpet bomb, mine, runover, artillery fire, or snipe the enemy all you want! I must say, a great game in the gameplay area.

The game is very easy to control, although the shortcuts can be hard to learn. You will get used to the shortcuts, though, and the grouping function of an unlimited number of units REALLY makes this game a lot of fun because you can take all your units at the same time. Also you can adjust your scroll speed and what not to your liking.

Okay, the reason some people are gonna buy the game, sadly enough. This game looks amazing; there is no other word to describe it. Sure there are some things that could look a little better, but the particle effects, the dust clouds, etc., they are all there and they do look very nice. Also, the movie are pretty cool to watch to (on the opening of missions and actual movie sequences). The movie at the beginning is about the only movie in the game though, but it is a nice way to open the game. Unfortunately, with these great looking graphics comes a drawback: load times. Sure they are not too long, but if your computer is not up to date, you may be sitting in that chair waiting a little while. Sure you get briefed during the load time, but trust me when I say unless you are illiterate, you will be stuck waiting long after you read the briefing. Of course, the graphics worth it and if you need to tone it down under options, you can set your graphics level to high, med, low, or custom and you can chose a few resolutions. Not as many resolutions of most games today though. All in all though, a tight graphical package that just takes a little while to load.

Okay, normally I would give this a 10/10 for this kind of game, but for right now I can't do that. First of all, the real fun of these games lies in the online function. Sure one can have fun against the computer for a long time, but we crave a real challenge against something that can think. The problem, though, is that when we pursue this desire for online play, we are met coldy with laggy servers and near impossible online playing conditions at this time. This sacks the replayability for now until they can get some better servers or fix some things in a patch. Thankfully, it automatically downloads patches when you connect, but it is hard to play online with this lag (one not about online play, if you have a gamespy account already, enter that name and password and click create to make a new account). All in all, this game is fun to play offline for quite a long time, but right now, you won't be having to great a time in the online community until something is done about the servers.

Fun Factor
This game is so much fun if this is your genre. This is what lovers of this genre crave: real strategy and real combat. It has a small learning curve at first to get all the units under your belt, but after that, you will be conquering like nobody's business. Really, just a strong package that any fan of the series, a great pickup for a first time RTSer, or maybe just a lover of RTS's will pick it up and I can promise you that you will love it for a while.

Buy or Borrow/Rent
I must say buy as you will not be disappointed. It is a great game that could probably keep the average gamer up late just trying to beat that one adversary that keeps baffling him/her. I am glad I bought it the day it came out because if I hadn't, I would have had a hard time finding a copy as it was so anticipated by the community. So, buy your copy today, before someone else does.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

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

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