Command & Conquer 3 Tiberium Wars - hands-on

Real-time strategy is back - the surprising success of Battle for Middle-earth II on Xbox 360 (a console?!) proves that the audience and demand for these gameshave never been bigger. What better time, then, for an original king of the genre to make its return? Command & Conquer 3 Tiberium Wars is hoping to do just that, hittingMicrosoft's console early this spring.

The series is returning to its past PC roots, too. The super militaristic Global Defense Initiative (GDI), with its mammoth tanks, grenadiers and building-blasting Ion Cannon. The corporate terrorists Brotherhood of Nod, with their rocket-launching motorbikes, stealth infantry and, of course, charismatically evil leader Kane. And the one and only thing they're fighting over - a poisonous but apparently invaluable bunch of green rocks known as Tiberium. This is the stuff that made Command & Conquer fun to begin with and it's all back.

In fact, during our hands-on time with the game, the two famous factions behaved much like we remembered them. Winning with the GDI still meant amassing a huge, powerful army and crushing the other side with superior firepower. In the first skirmish mode we played, we simply stomped our way to victory, marching through the streets of a deserted, war-torn town. Our smoke-trailing missiles and white-heat laser beams laid quick waste to Nod's overmatched forces... and to what little remnants of architecture that still stood around us.