Command and Conquer 3 - Tiberium Wars is a great addition to the franchise and many fans will be breathing a sigh of relief as it returns to more traditional roots
Kane lives! Just when you think a temple collapse, being stabbed and then stuck in a tube is enough to stop any maniac – the loveable bald scamp is back and ready for more.
Much like Tiberium, graphically the C&C universe has surely seen its own evolution over the years. Things are in tip-top condition, the units, buildings, environments and general aftermath of weaponry are gorgeous. Tiberium itself looks seductive it a deadly “keep away from me” kind of way. Tiberian Sun was all for the doom and gloom look; places now range from a pristine bright to a violent dark.
Don’t mess with the Brotherhood
Buildings collapse and crumble
As the times have changed and as some of the wounds have slowly begun to heal from the second Tiberium war, GDI and Nod have gone through some big changes too. EA has invested a lot of time in making sure things proceed with a certain scientific creditability, never before has the lore been so packed in the series. During missions you can uncover information about why things are the way they are now.
The Global Defence Initiative is still the proud and spoken defender of Earth, looking to reverse the terrible damage Tiberium has caused the World. With Nod being downgraded in threat, funding has been focused more to recovery than military hardware. A mistake they are soon to realise with the return of Kane, who’s looking to make his largest gambit for Tiberium yet.
The Brotherhood of Nod having withdrawn from GDI frontiers has been perfecting their experiments and investing more in stealth technology. The globe has been sorted into blue, yellow and red zones. The red zones are uninhabitable to human life; they are filled with terrific ion storms and other general Tiberium hazards. Yellow zones are infected with Tiberium, with its mass populations lacking general infrastructure they become easy Nod recruitment grounds. Blue zones are clear of Tiberium and home to the GDI cities, they hope to expand these zones through the use of sonic emitters that disrupt and destroy the toxic green crystal.
Seeing a return also is the trademark C&C FMV treats, for fans these have been missing in action for far too long. C&C Generals had no such scenes, unless you count the quick news reports but they hardly compare. While no where near the impact of Tiberian Dawn or Sun’s little movie-like snip-bits, C&C3 does a good job of bringing back that magic. True this time around the scenes are catwalks for known stars from TV series like Battlestar Galactica, Lost and certain films too.
The campaigns, both GDI and Nod, are split into Acts. These correspond in the plot to each other so you could play both GDI and Nod campaigns side by side and not have anything spoiled for you. This is a break from the more traditional route where each campaign would lead to completely different endings, which I admit were more satisfy for me. A ‘secret’ third campaign is unlocked once you complete the first two where you take the role as the new third faction, the Scrin.
Even single Mammoths can have significant impact
Nod has grown up a little since the old days
AI is actually intelligent here, yeah sure there are some miscalculations here and there but for the most part I was taken aback by its ability to adapt. They won’t constantly send in wave after wave the same route, they will change direction and mix up their forces a little, and they probe your defences. Normal difficulty is enough of a challenge, and you’re rewarded with medals after each campaign mission for core objectives, bonus and Intel collected. Computer opponents are far smarter than your average RTS; it must be all that Tiberium about – perhaps it should spread to a few other games, wish it could.
GDI relies mainly on its tanks, and while the infamous Mammoth MKII is sadly no longer with us, due to budget cuts, the new Mammoth MKIII is most defiantly a significant successor. When fully upgraded with its railgun, a number of these things should strike fear into any commanders’ heart. Think of them as the Star Destroyer of the Imperial fleet in Star Wars, these things roll across the battlefield capable of challenging any enemy.
The Orcas have certainly seen an upgrade to; admittedly their role in the two previous titles was tenuous at best. They delivered little tactical edge, unless you counted the bomber from TS. Now they pack some real serious punch, a fleet of normal fighters can turn tides of battle, and then you actually get to the Firehawk bombers. The Firehawks can be outfitted with either air-to-ground or air-to-air ordinance.
Don’t think Nod is left out; they have some nasty toys themselves now. They came accompanied by the expected buggy, recon bike, stealth tank and flame tank etc. What’s new and ready for action are the avatars, tall and strong walking death walkers. These two legged beasts can be upgraded by savaging other vehicles in Nod’s arsenal; they can be equipped with flame, stealth detection, stealth generator and an improved beam weapon. Big, bad and rather effective for removing an opponent’s base defences.
The Scrin, the new kids on the block, are a little stir to the mix. They don’t act too differently from the GDI and Nod bases, but are sure pretty and interesting in their own right. At the moment a number of balancing issues need to be addressed. Some of the more ‘influential’ units can devastate too much too quickly leaving gamers with little time to react. Who couldn’t love a faction that comes with a giant mothership? The Scrin air units certainly have the capacity to outdo the competition, from an aerial aircraft carrier to a flying artillery vessel, which can also be upgraded with shields. Well they are aliens after all; we have to expect them to kick us about a little.
I’d still side with the Brotherhood of Nod any day; they’ve always had the cooler vibe going for them. Super weapons are always in the forefront of any RTS players mind, the Ion Cannon is still the most impressive piece of GDI kit. It’s been upgraded a lot since the old days, its power unquestioned and will easily devastate an entire base. The Nod’s nuclear missile is none to friendly either, or the Scrin’s special vortex wave generator that seems to create a mini-black hole. Still the Ion Cannon gets my vote; it has come along way from Tiberian Dawn where it could barely level a single power plant.
Base building in general comes with the expected C&C radius limit to placing your structures which expands as you build outwards. The MCV can now redeploy at any time and you can even build additional construction cranes to help build more structures simultaneously. This is true also of any building that can produce units; they have separate build queues to help you pump out those armies. Surveyors are outposts that can be deployed, handy when you want to expand to Tiberium fields far off or if you want to build a choke point.
Multiplayer, and of course skirmish, play big roles for C&C3. Not only is the system better integrated for ladder ranks but a new quirk is available too; Battlecast. This fantastic little feature lets players give audio commentary to games, whether this will be praised as unleashing a whole load of fun or the harbinger of doom as any ‘self-professed expert’ spews their nonsense view – only time can tell. Patches are forthcoming, a number of issues have already been addressed regarding online play as well as some video sync issues and some balancing.
Campaign maps, with new snazzy look
Beware the Scrin, mainly their aerial artillery
Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars is a great addition to the franchise and many fans will be breathing a sigh of relief as it returns to more traditional roots. C&C Generals and its expansion left a lot disillusioned to EA’s ability to deliver a worthy game in the series. While many may still argue they’ve taken a too glossy approach to Tiberium Wars, it cannot be denied that it offers at its heart a lot of the core elements that made Command & Conquer the great universe it is. Get your copy, and welcome back Commander.
Top Game Moment:
TOP GAME MOMENT
Firing the Ion Cannon again brought back a lot of happy memories. Peace through power, Kane lives in death!