Command & Conquer retrospective part II

First read C&C retrospective part I

We conclude MyGaming’s C&C retrospective with part II, taking a look at a new alternative C&C universe, and exploring the build up to the finale of Kane’s story arc in the original Tiberian series, which is expected in C&C 4.

Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 – 2000

Westwood Pacific (EA Pacific) were at the helm of this title. Following on from the Allied ending of Red Alert, the second instalment is set in the 1970’s. The Soviet Union is in a mess after their failed attempts at global conquest, Joseph Stalin is dead and the Allies decide to install a puppet Soviet Premier, Alexander Romanov. Whilst he played nice at first, he was really building up a secret Soviet army with which he promptly invaded America. The Allies are caught with their pants down, Soviet Psychic Corps leader Yuri causes a bunch of nukes to explode in their silos, and the USA in overrun by the Red Army.

The Soviet campaign has the player battling the allies, whilst Yuri works his psychic powers behind the scenes to manipulate the Soviet leadership of General Vladimir and Premier Romanov. Ultimately Yuri’s plans are foiled by the player and Yuri is believed to be dead. Meanwhile, Soviet forces are descending upon the Allies’ Chronosphere, the last stop on the road to global domination.

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The Allied campaign is considered canon to the series, as the expansion pack follows on from this story. The Americans find themselves contending with mind controlling psychic beacons and psychic amplifiers in their cities, and Soviet generals that aren’t afraid to use nukes. The Allies wind up in Germany, protecting Albert Einstein’s laboratory while he puts the last licks of paint on the Chronosphere, a device which can teleport troops anywhere in the world. Using the Chronosphere, the Allies strike Moscow and capture the Kremlin, effecting a Soviet surrender.
The expansion, Yuri’s Revenge, revolves around the efforts of Yuri to take control of the globe through mind control devices. Both the Allies and Soviets have vested interest in not allowing this to happen. In either ending Yuri is captured. The Allies lock him away in a psychic isolation chamber, whilst the Soviets send him back to the age of the dinosaurs using the captured Chronosphere, where he is eaten by a Tyrannosaurus rex.

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Whilst Red Alert 2 didn’t do anything ground breaking with the RTS genre, the use of core C&C ingredients such as FMV scenes, a catchy soundtrack and fun, balanced gameplay ensured it was a critical and commercial success.

Command & Conquer: Generals – 2003

The last title developed by Westwood Pacific before they were merged along with Westwood Studios into EA Los Angeles. Generals uses a modified version of the 3D engine developed for Renegade and was the first C&C RTS title to be presented in 3D. Generals was the birth of another alternate C&C universe, set in the near future, with three playable factions: the USA, the Chinese; and the Global Liberation Army (GLA) who are a typically cliché “terrorist” organisation.

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Unlike previous C&C RTS titles, the campaigns follow a linear sequence, and FMV scenes were not used to progress the story. Basically, the plot has China and USA battling against the GLA. The game featured ‘Generals Abilities’ which allowed the player to use experience gained in battle to upgrade their forces and deploy specialised attacks such as air strikes and paratroops.

The Zero Hour expansion added three different sets of General Abilities to each faction. These new Generals specialised in particular elements of battle, adding another layer of depth to the core gameplay. The various combinations are particularly good fun in large multiplayer games. FMV sequences were also reintroduced to the series with the expansion.

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Generals spawned an extensive modding community, which has given the game longevity. If you feel like dusting off your copies of Generals and Zero Hour, be sure to check out the All Stars modification, which combines all units from every C&C game into one nifty package.

Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars – 2007

Unlike previous C&C titles, Tiberium Wars follows a single linear plot. In the year 2047 vast tracts of the Earth’s surface are polluted by Tiberium. After laying dormant for nearly two decades, the Brotherhood of Nod launches a global offensive on GDI forces, with the destruction of the GDI command ship Philadelphia as a centrepiece.

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Kane has been developing a Tiberium based chemical weapon at a facility in Sarajevo. GDI director Boyle foolishly orders an Ion cannon attack on the facility, which subsequently detonates the massive liquid Tiberium bomb, decimating the population of Eastern Europe.

The explosion also awakened the alien Scrin, who have been lurking on the periphery of the solar system. It would appear that the Scrin actually seeded the Earth with Tiberium in the first place, and were simply awaiting the maturation of the crystals before returning to harvest them. Although tricked by Kane, the Scrin are in full fledged invasion mode and begin to construct a number of Threshold towers which are used to teleport Tiberium offworld.

In the set up for C&C 4, the GDI manages to destroy most of the partially constructed towers, along with their central control node, but Kane secures control of the last Threshold tower, which becomes impervious to human weaponry upon its completion. The player is welcomed into Nod’s Inner Circle. The Scrin regroup with plans to mass a large invasion force.

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The game was  well received, with the usual top notch production values of FMV scenes, soundtrack, visual effects and solid gameplay ensuring that the return of the original franchise was a success.

The expansion, Kane’s Wrath, fleshed out the storyline of the series through a new Nod campaign. Divided into three acts, the first told of the events occurring immediately after the conclusion of Tiberan Sun, in which Kane retreats to a deep earth bunker to consolidate his remaining forces. The second act revolves around the plans to destroy the Philadelphia and the destruction of Nod’s new AI system, LEGION. In act three, LEGION is resurrected in a post-Tiberium Wars world and Kane captures the Tacitus. The Tacitus is then connected to LEGION, which gains a wealth of knowledge from the device, leaving the story on a cliff-hanger.

Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 – 2008

Following on from an Allied victory in Red Alert 2, the Soviets travel back in time to eliminate Albert Einstein and prevent the Allied use of nukes against the Soviets in the 1950s. This has the side effect of allowing the Imperial Japanese to rise to power, creating a three sided war for power. Each of the three campaigns ends with their respective faction victorious.

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Red Alert 3 was generally well received, with many citing the focus on naval combat as a boon for the instalment. The colourful and quirky graphics were also considered an attractive change to the serious tone set by C&C 3 visuals.

Uprising was released as a standalone expansion that does not require the original title to play. There are also no multiplayer features. The Soviet and Allied campaigns assume an allied victory at the end of Red Alert 3, whilst the Imperial campaign works on the premise that the Allies and Soviets still have a peace treaty in effect.

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We hope you have enjoyed this look back on a franchise that has become synonymous with the RTS genre. Be sure to discuss all your favourite Command & Conquer moments in our forums.

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