Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars Review
developer: EA LA
PIV 2000, 512MB RAM (1GB for Vista), 6GB HDD
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Mar 26, 07
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How long has it been since you've been excited about a real-time strategy? Probably ages, right? Well, in my case, Supreme Commander made me realize there's always room for innovation in an otherwise worn-out genre. Returning to the Command & Conquer universe, however, was a slightly different experience. Instead of witnessing any real breakthroughs or evolvements in the strategy genre, I ran into a pleasingly familiar environment. Yes, the setting is cool as always, but this time around, I also enjoyed the story, as it was portrayed via the FMV sequences with real-life actors; a touch retro, but still cool.
I think I'm ready to move out.
The blast from the Ion Cannon vaporizes everything in its path.
C&C 3, as I explained in our preview, revolves around an ongoing war between forces of Global Defense Initiative (GDI) and the Brotherhood of Nod. Suffice it to say, it's all about Earth domination and fighting over the remaining territories uncontaminated by Tiberium. The crux of the whole conflict is that the NOD sees the precious "green stone" as salvation and a source of tremendous power, while the GDI wishes to stop the spreading of Tiberium infestation caused by the very same resource. It's a confrontation of two different faiths and it's up to you to decide which of these fights for a just cause. The story, of course, remains the same in both campaigns, but players get to experience it from two different perspectives - NOD or GDI. As I've mentioned, the back-story is spiced up by the presence of actors, all of which have done a pretty decent job in conveying a rather grim future of mankind. With actors like Billy Dee Williams (yep, it's Lando Calrissian in the flesh) and Michael Ironside, you're liable to get sucked into the plot right from the beginning. By the way, Michael Ironside is widely recognized for his appearance in movies like Starship Troopers and is also known for voicing video game characters, like Sam Fisher.
I'll admit this much, when playing SupComm, I felt like a strategy rookie and it took me a long time to figure out what I was supposed to do and how to best use my units. In Command & Conquer 3, I felt right at home for a few obvious reasons. EA LA is, as some of you know, utilizing an enhanced version of the SAGE engine, which provided groundwork for its recent strategy series Battle for Middle-Earth. They are also keeping things very similar to BfME and Generals in terms of overall design and that's why I sort of knew my way around. The familiar user-friendly interface (an improved version of the one seen in C&C: Generals), doesn't take too long to master and should be a picnic if you're used to EA's aforementioned games.
The steady flow of the single-player campaign is one of the strongest points of the game. Players make their way through a wide variety of challenging missions across various spots on the globe -- from the Washington DC, Cairo (Egypt), Sarajevo, Stuttgart (Germany), etc. -- while taking part in a captivating tale. It feels cheesy at times, but in a good way if you know what I mean. There are also unexpected twists in the plot, which makes things even more interesting.
Just as you think things are coming to a swift and logical conclusion, a new formidable foe takes center stage, in a threat to annihilate all that remains of your world. And, presto! An entirely new race enters the battle for global domination, complete with new technologies and a range of new units.
*SPOILER ALERT OFF*
What really makes Tiberium Wars enjoyable is the simplified economy and the intuitive unit advancement system. Mining Tiberium is practically all there is to it. No other resource is needed for expanding your base. Of course, you are required to balance 'power' throughout the base, but just maintain a steady number of power plants and you should be fine. Upgrading units was also dumbed down to save on time and spare you any unwanted micromanagement.
Each scenario in the single-player campaign is intense and offers a pleasing choice of primary and secondary objectives to complete. Secondary goals are perhaps what makes this game tick. Having achieved them, players receive additional units or buildings as a reward for their efforts. Success in each battle gives you a shot at earning medals as well. Being honored for courage and performance in battle definitely drives you to outperform yourself with each new mission. Additionally, it throws in some extra replay value. On top of that, the variety of missions surpasses the usual stuff like destroying targets, surviving until reinforcements arrive, etc. Certain tasks involve leading individual units, like the commando, to sabotage and destroy crucial structures within enemy territory. (Nothing new for the series I suppose. - Ed)
The game becomes even more fun once players get access to an assortment of destructive powers such as the Ion Cannon - a powerful weapon that emits a devastating blast from orbit that leaves nothing but ashes in the wake. The NOD, on the other hand, use their vapor bomb to wreak havoc. Either way, it's a brilliant addition to the gameplay and it often reminded me of the special powers and spells used in BfME.
Enemy AI knows its way around and can handle itself effectively in any type of situation. Individual enemy units are smart enough to attack those units that are crucial to the player's goal. For instance, if a team of engineers must survive the battle, your opponent will focus on taking them out. Also, don't expect your tasks to be easy. Even when objectives are within reach, streams of enemies will keep coming from all sides, making it a challenge for players to establish a base and grow a considerable force in order to strike back.
It successfully embodies everything you need to experience in a modern-day RTS;
Nothing we haven't seen before, it simply lacks any tangible innovation.