Right off the bat, you'll notice how fast the game plays. Even at the default setting, there is little time for planning what you will build next or in which direction you will expand. Get a build order memorized and go, go, go; this is one of the most frantic real time-strategies in recent years.
This is good, in a way, since it means you’ll get to the action quickly. The three factions (terroristic NOD, vanilla GDI and extra-planetary Scrin) are similar enough to make it easy to move from playing one to the next, but different enough to offer something new. The units and buildings on each side serve similar functions, but every now and then one will have a special power that’ll make you stop and go, "Huh. So that's what that guy does." Hang-gliding stealth commandos, mind controlling alien beasties, giant cannons on legs; each of these units has a counter and a counterpart in the enemy camp.
In many ways, Command & Conquer 3 is defiantly old-fashioned. Sure, there are attempts to keep up with the Joneses by piling on superpowers- over a half dozen for each faction- and micromanaging of specialty units. But this is a game about marshalling the right combo of forces to match whatever is waiting on the other side of the map and little else. Territorial control is crucial, from seizing rich Tiberium mines to occupying and clearing urban areas. Once someone gains the upper hand in the economic arena, it can be very difficult to unseat them as the advantage snowballs and the superweapons are brought online. Defenses can be very powerful in numbers, but skirmishes emphasize rushing out light infantry, engineers and harvesters until you have a lead you can exploit.