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Command & Conquer: Renegade Review
developer: Westwood Studios
PII 450, 64MB RAM, 16MB Video Card, 500MB HD
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Feb 26, 02
|» All About Command & Conquer: Renegade on ActionTrip|
Command and Conquer was all it for me when I first became a gamer. It was the first real honest-to-God RTS I had ever seen, much less played. I spent more hours than I could count throwing GDI troops against the Brotherhood of NOD, to make the world free for democracy.
My all-time favorite level in this game was easily the commando mission, where one man gets dropped into a war zone, and needs to fight his way through to complete his objective. He was unstoppable, it seemed. Troops fell by the hundreds to his sniper rifle. Buildings? No problem. A quick C4 massage, and pow! Rubble. I remember thinking to myself how cool would it be to play an entire game as this unstoppable character, and seeing the GDI troops and NOD warriors up close? What would the inside of the Hand of NOD look like? Apparently, I wasn't the only one.
When Westwood announced plans for C&C: Renegade, I was intrigued. When they added plans for making the vehicles, like the NOD buggy or the GDI Mammoth Tank, I was excited. When they let loose with the multiplayer side, where you could actually be on the battlefields that you once commanded from a high vantage, I was frothing at the mouth with anticipation.
All the while, I kept repeating to myself "Please don't let them screw this up. Please don't let them screw this up. Please don't let them screw this up."
Did they screw this up?
Yes. And No.
Renegade takes place in the year 2020, in the same time period as the first Command & Conquer game. The player is cast in the role of Capt. Nick "Havoc" Parker, commando, soldier, and Duke Nukem's long lost great-grandfather, from the witty comments he drops as often as possible. The Brotherhood of NOD is doing what they do best - terrorizing the countryside in the name of their enigmatic leader, His Baldness, Kane. You have to, well, stop him and blow a lot of shit up. And you'll get to do exactly that.
The game starts with a bang, dropping the player smack dab in the middle of a firefight, and ends with a NOD base going up in smoke. This pretty much sets the pace for the rest of the missions - fast. Get in, shoot everybody, blow up the bad guys, and then get out. There are smatterings of optional missions thrown in on your way, since the levels themselves are quite large. These missions are pointed out on a compass in the upper-right corner, but with the size of these levels, the map and compass are pretty much useless. The key to survival is to learn to love your quicksave key; otherwise, you're going to be pretty frustrated in the larger levels.
The game engine is Westwood's first; and it has its good points and bad points. It is capable of some nice visuals, but it's not as good as a Quake 3 engine-style game. The exteriors are impressive, and the buildings are well modeled. One second, you're outside the building fighting your way in, the next you're in the basement planting the C4. Gone are the short level load times of Half-Life, so the gameplay does not suffer. Jumping into an open vehicle and causing mass destruction is always fun, especially with the variety of available vehicles for your driving pleasure. But while the engine is capable of this kind of power, it falls short in a lot of ways from the level of FPS game that we're all used to. The characters movement is a bit stiff, and he can always stop on a dime - as a power FPS gamer, I require at least a modicum of realism. Also, the models are way too blocky by today's standards, and a bit more polys would help boost the visuals a great deal. Overall, I must say that the graphics seem dated by today's standards.
The AI is woeful. In this day and age, it's not just the engine that makes for a good game. Having intelligent enemies to fight are a must - otherwise it's a 3D duck shoot. With the infantry, that's what we have in Renegade - the enemies do nothing but rush, and your friendly AI constantly enters your line of fire, making combat a little uninspired.
A+ for effort. "Havoc" is hilarious, even if unintentionally so, vehicle combat is top-notch, great indoor/outdoor transition;
C+ for execution. AI is dumber than a cinder block, gameplay is a bit stiff, game is a resource hog. It just lacks polish.