Review by kimarhiroth

"a good game"

You thought the war was over...You thought wrong. With nearly every Command & Conquer game having an expansion, there was no surprise that the award-winning title, Generals would have one too. Surprisedly enough, Zero Hour was put together rather hastily, in only 8 months, but not even hardcore gamers would be able to tell. You can tell that EA analysed the game and asked the players what was lacking in Generals, and this is why Zero Hour is a great expansion, especially for all the fans of Generals.

Game Play
The game play is much the same as Generals, with Zero Hour containing 15 new solo missions, which is surprising considering that Generals only had 21 solo missions. Each faction has one new campaign, broken into five missions each. The USA’s objective is to root out and destroy splinter cells scattered around the Middle East, while China has to neutralise GLA terrorist threats in its own borders and eliminate all cells in the region. Lastly, the feared terrorist organisation, GLA, with their objective to gain control of the world; using its array of biological and chemical weapons to do so. Each mission follows a storyline corresponding to the faction’s objective, which are quite challenging, especially in higher levels of difficulty. Before each mission, you are shown a full motion video cut-scene containing a news reporter updating you on your missions’ current situation, which certainly sounds like current situations in the world today.

Aforementioned, Zero Hour features a new single player mode, Generals Challenge. Here you are able to pick one of nine certain generals, each with specific warfare strategies and units only available to them. Once you have chosen your general, you are pinned against your opposing general on their turf suiting their special abilities. One nice touch EA has added, is that all of the generals have their very own distinctive voice, and will torment you throughout the game, which is quite amusing. The generals are based on the different styles of play used online, with each general having its own advantages and disadvantages. For example, the USA’s super weapon general, General Alexander is based on the turtling style of play. She has many advantages that help her style of play, and with every general, she has her disadvantages that are critical in a player’s style of play. All generals were created equally, so it’s not to give an advantage to opposing players.

With every new expansion, there are always new features and with 50 new features, Zero Hour does not stray from this. Each faction gets a few new units, structures, upgrades and general abilities. Some of the more interesting features are the MOAB (Mother of all Bombs) upgrade from the fuel air bomb and the leaflet drop, which demoralises opposing units and leaves them temporarily immobile. The GLA has the sneak attack, worker shoes, combat cycles and the infirmness combat bus, which can turn into a bunker. China’s helix 2 helicopter is the much sort after air power that China was looking for. Also, in the ranks of China’s new features is the Internet centre for the Chinese hackers and the powerful ECM tank.

Zero Hour uses an optimised version of the Generals game engine, and you can expect that the graphics are superb. The buildings have been textured brilliantly and include moving shadows. The wide-open picturesque maps are an eye-candy, and the different terrains that are available are magnificent, and are crafted down to the minute detail. The different types of terrains in a map intertwine together to create an authentic feel. The trees and shrubs sway in the wind and with the aid of their shadows, and they help make a realistic battlefield.

The little added details to the graphics is what a makes a good game an excellent game, and EA have put in the effort and made Zero Hour an excellent game. For instance, when an infantry is injured, it moves considerably slower and if you zoom in, you can see him limping. Another little added detail was when a vehicle moved, dust rose from the back and they left tread marks.

There have been many new enhancements and improvements in the graphics from Generals. The explosions have become been enhanced to a point that they look breathtakingly real. The infantry, who were lacking detail in Generals, have been improved vastly so they are stunning. EA have also added the support for full motion videos, which aren’t stunning but are a nice touch since they were not seen in Generals.

The only down side to the graphics is that you need a powerful machine for constant frame rates.

The sound in a game is what sets the intensity. Zero Hour stills contain the patriotic and Eastern music which was enjoyed by all who played. As mentioned previously, generals have their own distinctive voice, which were voice acted. The sound effects of the vehicles revving up or the screaming of an infantry being fried by a particle cannon is hardly noticed but creates the realism of the game. As before in Generals, each unit has its own voice and some of the sayings are still quite humorous.

With 50 new features and a new single player mode, Zero Hour will not disappoint the fans of the Generals. Zero Hour re-opens the passion for the RTS fans out there and others will be eagerly joining the club. The multiplayer in Zero Hour has a new format, which entitles you to change the setup of the match and Zero Hour even includes World Builder and a manual. Overall, Zero Hour improves the flaws of its predecessor, Generals and creates a whole new, better game and if you like some eye-candy graphics and some good gameplay, then Zero Hour is a must get.

-New features
-New single player mode
-Longer, more difficult single player missions
-Full motion videos

-Predicable AI
-High System Requirements
-Multiplayer problems


Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 01/01/04, Updated 01/28/04

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