Review by b9bomber
When someone mentions the strategy genre a good number of gamers would have the series name "Command and Conquer" come to mind. This is because a past company, Westwood Studios, created this series and sucked many people into the world of strategy gaming due to its challening missions, cool units, and awesome cutscenes. The series quickly changed when EA bought the company, dissolved it, and had the next game in the series ("Generals") be nothing the like the last games in both play style and story. It seems that they have learned their lesson and have now come out with a game that comes so close to keeping the Command and Conquer tradition.
Command and Conquer 3 is set in what C&C fans call the "Tiberium Universe". A strange alien plantlike substance, called tiberium, has landed on the Earth and spreads like wildfire, releasing dangerous chemicals into the air and killing people who come near it. During it's spread, a strange new cult, called the Brotherhood of Nod, suddenly apprear. Preaching that the next step of human evolution is near, they began to take over the world triggering the first tiberium war. The free world then banded together a force called the Global Defense Initiative to fight them off. Tiberium Wars takes place during the third tiberium war when the planet is mostly covered in tiberium and fighting over the last few uncontaminated spaces is common.
I didn't find the missions that go through the third tiberium war as challenging as the other Command and Conquer games, but EA did go out of their to have the player immersed in the storyline by having cutscenes with Hollywood actors and having them give you orders directly. For example, when you are watching a cutscene in the Nod campaign the leader Kane will urge you to press a button which will release mass destruction.
The graphics and sound in the game is amazing. You can see the shadows of the towering Scrin walkers and hear the blasts of the GDI Mammoth tanks so well that it feels like you're watching live feed of the battle at hand. The battlefield maps are also well rendered giving you the feel that you really are in London or in Washington DC.
There are three teams to the game and one of them is a new additon to the series called the Scrin, an alien species somehow connected to the tiberium. Between the three teams, each of the teams have their own unique strategies and all are balanced with each other. When you play the game, you will see that EA has brought back the old sidebar system where you find your building options on a sidebar of the screen. There are also powers that each team has such as artillery strikes, cloaking fields, and buzzer swarms that each team can use to gain an edge over the other. One of my favorite tactics I use with GDI is paralyzing the enemy base with shockwave artillery and drop troops in with drop pods all the while assaulting them with tanks.
When the campaign is done, online or skirmish play is the way to go. Skirmish play features many kinds of AI types (such as "Balanced" and "Steamroller" among others) to keep the play interesting. Watch out for the "Scrin Turtle" though...he'll beat you to a pulp if you leave him alone long enough! Online play would be awesome if EA didn't always botch up its patches. They try to solve balance and cheating problems with each patch, but it always ends up creating more. Take the latest patch (1.08) for example. It was to fix a problem that involved having a superweapon constantly fire (a problem caused by the last patch) destroying the opponent's base easily. They released the patch but few people could download it for a period of time due to an overloaded server and a messed up auto patcher.
All in all, Command and Conquer 3 will have you dreaming Attack Bikes and Ion Cannons in your sleep, a clear indication that they have matched the past Command and Conquer games. If you are interested in playing online be aware that EA is trying to make this game like a full fledged sport meaning that they now have an internet show dedicated to the game. Play a good game and you may just have your face on it.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars (US, 03/26/07)
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