Command and Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars Review

by DevilUknow     |     May 8, 2007

Command and Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars

Score: 8.5

By DevilUknow

GDI, Nod and the new alien Scrin, battle across a ragged Earth for the hearts and minds of an embattled people. And there's lots of 'splosions too! Command and Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars brings the lightening fast game play and fun campy story you would expect from the 12 year old dynasty.

The Real Time Strategy has experienced a renaissance as a genre in recent years. Blizzard brought us asynchronous armies in Starcraft and Warcraft 3, each side playing differently while still maintaining game balance. Relic introduced simplified cinematic combat with their excellent Company of Heroes. But these games would not exist as they are if not for Dune 2 back in 1992, and its spiritual successor, Command and Conquer in 1995.
Command and Conquer, and its sequels and spin-offs, all play with a very distinct style and an extreme pace. While other games like Supreme Commander reward grand strategy and Dawn of War stresses aggressive expansion, C&C has been about perfecting the build order, teching up, pumping out a mob of powerful units and laying waste to one’s foes.

This fast and furious game play is the hallmark of the series, and Command and Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars brings it in spades. This is its gift, but this is also its curse.

Welcome Back to the Suck (in a good way)

Command and Conquer brings back the classic factions of GDI and the Brotherhood of Nod, along with a new third faction, the Scrin, with each bringing its own play styles; GDI is heavy and slow, Nod is sneaky and fast and the Scrin and powerful but fragile. Their similarities, however, are far more numerous than their differences. Each side has essentially the same solution to every problem the game presents. Each side collects Tiberium, the game's primary resource, with harvesters. Each side has infantry, vehicles and air forces with units that are strong against one unit type and weak against another. Each side gets access to special units, super weapons and abilities.

The differences make choosing a side like choosing a flavour if ice cream; each different, but it’s all ice cream. Also, the introduction of the Scrin feels more like a demand of the story line rather than a genuine addition to the game. The Scrins have their own feel and their techno-organic insect look is interesting and their play style is fun; however their similarity to the original two sides makes one wonder why they bothered to include a third faction at all. It is a shame that the dev team did not simply further flesh out and differentiate the original two.

Multiplayer games are extremely fast. High-level games rarely seem to last longer than 15 to 20 minutes. This is a game that rewards mechanical efficiency and tactical ability. Wasted movements will get you killed. There is a Siege mode prevents players from attacking early in the game, but this usually just serves to prolong the inevitable.

On the other hand, this ruthless style is not necessarily a bad thing. C&C3 is a game of skill. The sides are more or less balanced (I have a definite affinity for the GDI over the other two, but that maybe just me) and there are no sure fire ways to win (though some are more efficient and common than others). Like any good fighting game or first person shooter, this game is intense and rewarding, especially when playing against an opponent of similar skill. The online match making service provided with the game generally works well and you can be playing in seconds.

The game also provides a remarkably robust Skirmish mode with customizable AI, which is excellent for honing your skills, but the best place to be is still online.

ZOMG, It’s Billy Dee Williams!

Besides its distinct play style, Command and Conquer is known for its use of Full Motion Video cinematics to tell its epic sci-fi story. In the “glory days” of the FMV, developers would hire B and C list actors, light them terribly, and give them embarrassing dialog and directing to bring the feel of authentic Hollywood to their games. Thankfully, these dark days passed quickly but are still alive in Command and Conquer 3 with tongue firmly in cheek.

C&C's cheesy FMV sequences are a large part of its charm. The actors play it straight and refrain from winking at the camera (mostly). Thanks to the money bags at the command of Electronic Arts, several of these actors are recognizable and sometimes even good. Michael Ironsides, grizzled commander of GDI, Billy Dee Williams (!!) the shifty civilian head of GDI, Tricia Helfer from Battlestar Galactica, slinky evil general of Nod and Josh Holloway from Lost as the penis obsessed (seriously) Nod field commander. There are a few other starlets and TV personalities thrown in as well.

The series’ original director, Josephe Kucan, who also plays the series’ primary villain Kane, the messianic leader of the Brotherhood of Nod, directs the movies. The story rides the line of cliché fare with a twist that comes off with the subtly of a monster closet in Doom, but it gets the job done. Disappointingly, the videos suffer from an awkward cinematography. They are always locked into a first person perspective, which is supposed to be the view of the player (I guess), forcing these actors to emote directly into the camera; a difficult feat for anyone to pull off. Still, it’s fun to see famous people slum around in gaming.

Performance Issues: The Surprising Lack Thereof

For a game that looks as good as it does, it runs extremely well on less than beefy systems. Uncomplicated but distinctive units and effects run silky smooth, even on my less than bleeding edge rig. C&C3 has the ability to take advantage of more powerful hardware, but mercifully is not a requirement.

Command and Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars is a fantastically fun if somewhat anachronistic RTS. The game lacks the revolutionary innovations introduced by competitors in recent years but it almost would not be Command and Conquer if it did.
If you are a longtime fan of C&C, this game brings the goods to the battlefield. Get it! Even if you don't feel nostalgic for Mammoth tanks, Orca jets and Kane's big bald cue ball head, it is still great dumb fun.

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