One of the few games of the 32 bit age (remember when we used to talk about bits?) that first grabbed my attention was the real-time strategy game, Command & Conquer. I had never played something that seems so detailed & intricate, I was hooked….
Command & Conquer played out in a fictional world where the Global Defence Initiative is at war with the mysterious Brotherhood of NOD faction. NOD, a terrorist group led by the illusive figure of Kain want control of the world which is rich in a poisonous substance called Tiberium. Harmful to humans, Tiberium is a source of fuel for both sides & require harvesting to be able to fund their war campaigns. The power of NOD is increasing since their early terrorist days & the GDI faction led by General Sheppard is struggling to contain them.
This is where the player steps in with the player choosing to take control of either NOD or GDI. The GDI campaign takes place throughout Europe while the NOD campaign takes place in Africa.
Each faction has widely differently missions & objectives with the player having the freedom to decide how that mission parameters is met. For example, one mission might see you needing to capture a specific building – maybe stealth is the answer or maybe destroying every building & unit beside the one you need is your route in.
Most missions put you in charge of a small unit of troops & a construction yard with the deployment of this prompting the ability to start building a base. Early missions see you only really building basic power supply buildings & barracks while later missions see you in charge of radars & helicopter pads. Each mission feels progressive as more & more becomes available even if it can be a slow process because of the cost.
Money is gained by building a harvester that will then go off & harvest Tiberium which is then turned into credits. As long as there is Tiberium your harvester will harvest without any concern from you…well except if the enemy troops decide to attack it.
Defence is as important as offensive in Command & Conquer as the AI has little issue with launching attacks on a regular basis. Getting the balance between offensive units & defensive units requires real thought & it is one of the reasons I love this game so much.
There is little to compare to the feeling of building a huge array of tanks, holding of the enemy attacks & then launching your own. Thanks to a ‘fog of war’ system you will often be blind going into an attack unless you’ve used faster units earlier to scout (recommended). Too many times my entire army was decimated after I went rolling into the enemy base & ran into some unexpected opposition.
The joy in Command & Conquer is as much in failure as it is in success & rarely can you blame anyone else but yourself for getting it wrong. The main challenge comes from missions where a base is not included & you need to work with a finite number of units. This might be fighting your way across a map to an exit or to a derelict base but they can be extremely tough & involve a lot of trial & error.
Where Command & Conquer really excels is with its use of full motion video cut scenes between missions. It adds a whole lot more to the characters & story to see them portrayed by real actors & there are plenty of twists & turns to keep you interested.
By today’s standards Command & Conquer is looking its age & can be excruciatingly slow to play at times. There isn’t a whole load of content in the game & there are a few exploits you can use to make some tougher levels a breeze.
While the original PC version included multi-player the console versions didn’t & it was hard to miss what you didn’t have. Later versions of the game did include an additional set of missions/scenarios that added a nice additional challenge.
Hold Command & Conquer up against its modern day predecessors & it looks terrible by comparison yet it is still much more fun to play then most. It’s the game that introduced me to RTS & how much fun it could be. This is a game that could do with a HD re-release on modern consoles.
Command and Conquer