Friday 12 January 2007
Peer into the roots of all real-time strategy games and you see Command & Conquer. Or, to be exact, original developer Westwood Studios and the genre-defining Dune II: The Battle for Arrakis. If there was ever a dose of gameplay that could be defined as timeless, C&C's build-'em and blast-'em action is it.
With C&C3, though, there are a blend of inventive ideas to keep the action fresh, streamlining the build-heavy moments at the beginning of each game and tactically enhancing the inevitable conflicts. Construction options are enhanced, enabling multiple building projects with the new 'crane' upgrade, and there's a host of new vehicles, troops.
Turrets (defensive weapon emplacements) are also revamped. Now you deploy a single 'hub', before planting three separate turrets close by. However, the most powerful turret, the Brotherhood of Nod's always-impressive Obelisk of Light, is still deployed one at a time.
Finally, there's an onscreen General's Powers panel. These multi-use skills can help overcome even the worst of scenarios if used smartly, and powers differ between Nod and GDI (Global Defence Initiatives). Mega-weapon favourites like nukes are found here, but it's the new ideas that interest us most - Decoy, Reinforcement drop, Minefields, to name a few.
In practice, C&C3's new elements join seamlessly with the age-old gameplay. But compared to waging war in more recent RTS highlights like Medieval II and Company of Heroes, Command & Conquer feels noticeably old-fashioned, with victory still likely to be handed to the player who builds the best units quickest.