Command & Conquer

Command & Conquer
4.5
Game Name: Command & Conquer
Media: 2 CD-ROMs
Publisher(s): Virgin Interactive
Developer(s): Westwood
Genre(s): Strategy
Release Date: 1997
Serial Number: T-7028H-50
Region: PAL

Some say that Real Time Strategies (or even strategy games in general) and console systems just don’t match…

Command & Conquer ScreenshotWhile it’s true that there were few real time strategies released for consoles (when compared to huge amount of such games for PC’s) it doesn’t mean that commanding troops and building bases with a joypad is no fun, quite on the contrary. In fact, Command & Conquer is one of the best games released for Saturn.

C&C is probably the most popular RTS franchise largely thanks to the ever expanding Red Alert series.

Unfortunately Saturn didn’t receive a release of Red alert, unlike PlayStation, but at least it got the original C&C (also known as Tiberium Dawn) which many still consider to be the finest RTS ever made.

The game’s scenario takes place in 1995, a meteorite crashes near to the river Tiber in Italy and a space visitor brings a mysterious substance; Tiberium. This substance can extract valuable minerals from the ground…

Command & Conquer Screen Shot

A Quasi-terrorist group called The Brotherhood of NOD takes control of most of the Tiberium sources, and performs heavy research into Tiberum based technology which will help it to build a powerful army able to take over the world.

GDI, the anti-terrorist organisation, which also has to face NOD’s media manipulation that turns world opinion against them, is there to stop the brotherhood from fullfiling their plan.

As you can see, plot wise C&C is decent but how does it actually play?
When it comes to RTS on consoles the most important factor seems to be the controls, and fortunately in C&C they’re very well thought out and in a matter of minutes they become second nature, you won’t miss keyboard and mouse at all.

Ordering troops, attacking, forming teams and switching beetwen them is very easy so if you have some tough times with some missions you can’t blame the controls, only yourself.

Command & Conquer Screen Shot

Gameplay itself is simple; you build a base, starting from powerplants, barracks and tiberium rafinery, you collect tiberium (which equals money) with a harvester, create new units and fight enemies.

Most of the time you’ll have to just wipe the opposition out although in some missions you’ll be given more sophisticated tasks like capturing particular buildings or destroying a village using enemy’s units.

Both campaigns last for about 15 missions but actually the total amount of missions available is 50. After every mission you choose one of the available routes (1 to 3) and while the objectives are similar the maps are pretty different.

Unfortuantely multiple routes do not lead to various endings although as far as I know there’re two different ending movies for GDI campaign (depends on how you finish the last mission) and you’re given a very interesting choice at the end of NOD campaing.

 

Of course you can play as one of the two sides of the war participants: Global Defense Initiative (the good guys) and Brotherhood of NOD (the bad guys). Choosing the side doesn’t mean just a change of colors, it makes a world of difference. First of all, NOD’s missions take place on the deserts of Africa while GDI struggles on the lands of Europe. Both campaigns have also different movies (I’ll cover that later), that’s why C&C is on two discs.

But the most important factor are the units, both GDI and NOD have some similar and unique units to choose from; the common units being regular infantry, bazooka (actually men with bazookas, not bazookas with legs or something) and engineers (unarmed but can capture buildings giving you access to enemy’s units!).

Command & Conquer Screenshot

The difference beetwen two “teams” is best seen in their tank units. While GDI has rather regular tanks which vary in terms of size (including mammoth tank and believe me it’s a really good name for him), NOD has some more specialized units like fire tank (great against infantry) and stealth tank (invisible for enemy as long as it’s not involved in a fight).

The game is quite challenging and of course gets more harder with every mission, prepare for replaying them many times before you complete them and prepare for playing some missions for nearly two hours (yes, they can get quite lenghty even when you play on turbo speed!) and failing it at the very end. Twice.
It’s a test of patience but the intriguing thing is I didn’t thought even once about giving up and playing something else after another wasted hours, oh no. I didn’t stop until I’ve beaten the enemy even after the 15th failed attempt, and everytime when I finally heard “Mission Accomplished” I felt great satisfaction. Command and Conquer is definetely absorbing and addicting as hell.

Saturn probably doesn’t even have to use a quarter of it’s power to run C&C since the game runs in 2D low-res graphics. Soldiers are literally just few pixels on the screen, bigger objects look better but it’s still average, probably the best looking thing in C&C are flames and explosions. Still, the graphics do their job nicely and the game runs in flawless 60 fps.
The sound, however, is something that Westwood’s creation can be proud of. Sound effects aren’t maybe that great but the soundtack created by Frank Klepacki is just outstanding, songs are catchy, great to listen and fit the game really well (and have some memorable lyrics.

I mentioned about movies in C&C, in fact there is about 60 minutes of nice quality FMV’s. The game opens with nice intro, you watch a mission briefing before playing each level etc. Real actors took part in them and in the end they really add to the atmosphere. In game movies are something that C&C series are (in)famous for but here they’re not as cheesy and amusive as in the next installments (especially in Red Alert series).

C&C has one major flaw- it doesn’t support saves so you have to use passwords. Although you can think that it doesn’t really need a save option it would come in handy to be able to save during the mission if it takes too long. Also, after beating a mission you’re given a score depending on your performance and you can enter it on top scores table but what’s the point of it when you can’t save the results? It’s a shame as it could boost the game’s replayability.

Another thing is that the game focuses mainly on ground combat, there are some helicopters, GDI can use airstrikes from time to time but it’d be nice to have some sea and air to air fights. On the other hand C&C was one of the first in genre and it established many stanards, even the possiblity to select more than one unit at once was something new, so I guess almost complete lack of air and sea action is forgettable. I also miss a scenario/skirmish mode where you can choose a map and play a regular battle with your opponent instead of taking another mission again.

Oddly enough, it is the first RTS that I really enjoyed. If you’re patient enough and looking for some addicting (and cheap) Saturn title with great lastability Command & Conquer seems to be a perfect choice. Just make sure you have a lot of free time.

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