It’s been a long time since the last Command & Conquer, so when the announcement was made for the next installment in the series a lot of people were excited and for good reason because Command & Conquer holds a special place in many a gamers heart because of what it brought to the real time strategy genre. More than that though, it did a good job of bringing the RTS to the mainstream. This isn’t your old Command & Conquer, though. Tiberium Wars is bigger and better and now on a console for gamers to enjoy with a controller in hand rather than a mouse in one and a keyboard in the other.
Anyone who played the Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth II should find this game extremely familiar. Both games use almost exactly the same control scheme. That being said then, Command & Conquer is a pretty big improvement on its distant cousin. Visually speaking, Command & Conquer is a looker. There’s a lot of detail in the game. Behind every nook and cranny there are highly detailed models both character and environmental. The video between missions in the single player game brings an element of storytelling not found in the Lord of the Rings. Command & Conquer 3 features several celebrities assuming the roles of prominent characters in the game. Notably Command & Conquer stars Billy Dee “Don’t call me Lando” Williams, Trisha Helfer, Josh Holloway, Michael Ironside and more. So, visually the game has a nice presentation that exceeds the other RTS games on the 360.
In terms of audio, Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars is a beast. The acting is far better than most games if only because they’ve got known actors performing their craft. The real bonus is that the sound is so great. There’s so much going on at one time that it’s easy to get lost, but audio cues provide assistance. You’ll hear tons of things going on at once, everything from gunfire, to units accepting orders, things flying overhead, and it’s critical for the game to be able to handle all of the graphical information going on at once as well as the audio information, and for the most part Command & Conquer 3 does an admirable job performing all of this. Explosions are commonplace and with a 5.1 Dolby digital surround sound system your subwoofer will get quite the workout. So, expect a lot of noise coming from Tiberium Wars. Oh, and you might want to turn it down when you’re playing on Xbox Live just as a courtesy to other players.
The one thing that brings Command & Conquer 3 down to earth is the gameplay, more specifically the controls. It’s really hard to be able to manipulate all your troops when the controller isn’t as maneuverable as a keyboard and mouse. All those shortcuts get cut down to a few buttons or combination of button presses and it just doesn’t translate well, especially when you’re trying to send specific troops into a skirmish in the heat of battle. Too many times, I felt like I could send in a select few at first, then if those guys went down my only option was then to send in everyone because it just wasn’t easy to separate a few from the entire lot. Could it be done? Yes, but it just isn’t easy to do when you’ve got an entire army approaching and you want to slow them down a little with specific troops. Of course, if you’re just trying to go out and kill everything indiscriminately, then by all means send in the entire force. In general that will help you succeed about 95% of the time, but there are occasions when it just doesn’t work and those are the stages where you’ll spend a lot of time aborting the mission and restarting.
The other problem I found with the game is that it’s just plain too hard at times. The computer AI is unrelenting and can perfectly manufacture units like they’re going out of style. Unlike with human opponents the computer doesn’t leave any room for errors, so your ever-so-slightest error can and will mean certain demise for you. In the long term it might make you a better player if you decide to stick with the game, but in the short term even the easiest setting can make for a frustrating experience for some. Aside from this the game is basically really solid. It’s fun to play and building and blowing stuff up has rarely been as fun. Still, some will prefer the ease of playing Command & Conquer 3 on a PC to playing with a controller in hand.
The cool part about Command & Conquer 3 is that you’ve got several options of playing. There’s a deep and highly replayable single player mode with three different campaigns to play. You can play online with up to three other players via Xbox Live and enjoy a frantic game rivaled by very few others on the service. There are several multiplayer maps and different modes to play giving you virtually endless replay value.
Sure, it may not match the ease and simplicity of the PC version, but Command & Conquer 3 Tiberium Wars offers a deep and lengthy game for those either not interested in PC games due to the constant upgrading of hardware or for those who may want a different experience from the traditional console game. The Xbox 360 does an admirable job of trying to make all the adjustments necessary to bring the RTS genre to the console. The high level of difficulty may steer away beginners and the controls may turn off RTS veterans, so that kind of leaves those in the middle as an audience. It’s definitely worth a go if you’re interested in the genre as a whole and don’t mind the tricky controls and learning curve.
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