“Welcome back, Commander.” It’s been simply 20 years since I final sat on this chair, presiding over the Brotherhood of Nod’s forces. A very long time.
I’ve grown older however the man briefing me hasn’t aged a day. His title is Seth. Just Seth, as he jogs my memory, second in command solely to Kane himself. He stares again at me from the display, face bathed in purple gentle, a beret perched on his head. “I have a task for you,” he says. “This is Nikoomba, and he is causing the Brotherhood much grief. His views do not coincide with ours. Silence him.”
Two many years, however for a second it’s like I can see my youthful self once more. I used to be most likely consuming Dunkaroos at a good friend’s home, the world’s most ineffectual (and short-term) commander. Loads has modified since Command & Conquer launched in 1995—however not Command & Conquer, for higher and for worse.
Note: I’ve seen occasional slowdown and stuttering in Red Alert. I’ll be maintaining a tally of the early Steam critiques to see if it is a widespread subject. If it’s, hopefully it’s mounted shortly. I haven’t had the identical subject with Tiberian Dawn.
Dark earlier than the Dawn
Let me first say: These are loving remasters. Petroglyph—based by ex-Westwood workers—has accomplished an incredible job sprucing 1995’s Command & Conquer (retroactively subtitled Tiberian Dawn) and 1996’s follow-up/spin-off Command & Conquer: Red Alert.
The love is obvious from the very first minute. When you launch Tiberian Dawn or Red Alert for the primary time, you’re handled to unimaginable reworks of the unique set up sequences.
Wait, set up sequences? I assume we must always again up and clarify, as a result of even the idea of an “installation sequence” is a time capsule straight from 1995. If you weren’t there, you most likely don’t know what I imply. Basically, there was a time within the not-so-distant-past when putting in a recreation was marginally extra fascinating than watching a progress bar slowly fill.
Command & Conquer had some of the best install programs, constructing the world earlier than the participant even touched the sport correct. You’d choose your sound card, arrange your web connection, inform the sport the place to put in—and sure, watch progress bars fill. They had been stylized progress bars although, rattling it! Progress bars designed to seem like they got here from the long run, or from an alternate timeline within the case of Red Alert.
Of course, these days you put in Command & Conquer Remastered via Steam like some other recreation. As I stated although, upon first launching the sport you’re handled to up to date set up sequences, animations that knowingly stamp “OBSOLETE” on the previous web setup placard and “Upgrade” the visuals to your fashionable monitor decision.
And this tongue-in-cheek tone continues into the primary mission, the place you’re prompted to “Calibrate” your view of the battlefield by hitting Space. Do so, and the sport transitions from the unique Tiberian Dawn and Red Alert sprites to the brand new reworked paintings. You can faucet Space to toggle between the 2 on-the-fly at any level, akin to Halo: Anniversary Edition.
That’s not the one facet of Command & Conquer Remastered you’ll be able to alter. You can toggle between the unique and up to date artwork, between the unique and up to date soundtrack, and even between the unique and up to date controls. The controls are additional subdivided into a number of entries, permitting you to (as an example) use Left Mouse to subject instructions like the unique Command & Conquer of 1995, however Right Mouse to scroll the digital camera like a contemporary recreation.
Most individuals will use the modernized graphics, the modernized soundtrack, and the modernized controls—and they need to. It’s higher that approach. The up to date paintings is particularly spectacular. I wouldn’t say Tiberian Dawn was “pixel art,” however it was so low-res Petroglyph risked operating into the identical points as remastered pixel artwork, a la 2018’s widely panned Chrono Trigger remaster.
Some might take related offense to Tiberian Dawn and Red Alert right here—however I don’t assume so. The new sprites are trustworthy to the unique sequence, mimicking the crisper traces and element of later sequels like Tiberian Sun and Red Alert 2. In different phrases, it “feels” like Command & Conquer. It “feels” like Westwood at its peak. The artwork is infinitely extra readable now, however it doesn’t really feel scientific or sterile like some botched remaster makes an attempt.
If you hate it although? Toggle again to the unique sprites. The unique Command & Conquer expertise is rarely greater than a handful of toggles away, and I feel it’s necessary and price applauding the lengths Petroglyph has gone with the intention to protect the unaltered work, whether or not for historical past lesson or nostalgia. Remasters are, or at the very least must be, as a lot about preservation as they’re modernization.
Unfortunately that additionally means quite a lot of tough edges.
Command & Conquer wasn’t the primary real-time technique recreation. It was very early although, and is mostly credited with popularizing the style. It preceded StarCraft. It preceded Age of Empires. It preceded rather a lot, and rather a lot is “missing” or lackluster right here because of this: Quality-of-life enhancements, mission design, synthetic intelligence, steadiness.
This is to be anticipated, simply because it was to be anticipated in Age of Empires: Definitive Edition. Command & Conquer popularized a style that went on to dominate a lot of the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. Of course the style grew and developed as time went on. Of course it bought higher. Command & Conquer is a foundational recreation, and an necessary a part of the historic canon. So is Red Alert, for that matter.
But they’re additionally pretty simplistic by fashionable requirements. Brutally unfair, as nicely. Missions typically come right down to constructing the “deathball,” a formless mass of models, after which sending it headlong into the enemy base. Is it probably the most environment friendly option to play Tiberian Dawn and Red Alert? Not actually—however it works, as a rule, and it’s often simpler than coping with Command & Conquer’s unreliable pathfinding.
It’s wonderful how briskly armies can crumble too. Infantry are significantly fragile, with a complete platoon of riflemen and engineers susceptible to being crushed beneath enemy tanks in case your consideration wanders—and even blown to bits by pleasant fireplace out of your personal tanks. I’ve restarted a couple of mission as a result of I merely ran out of cash to construct extra troops, locked in a tedious stalemate with the enemy. Even extra aggravating are the missions the place you could have a restricted variety of troops it is advisable information via a gauntlet of enemies. It’s straightforward to finish up in an unwinnable place due to one mistimed rocket.
That’s to not say Command & Conquer Remastered is unplayable, and even unenjoyable. There’s one thing satisfying in how uncomplicated all of it feels after years of StarCraft II tech timber and unit upgrades and so forth and so forth. Everything in Command & Conquer—buildings, models, automobiles—is constructed from the panel on the right-hand facet. No want to leap again to base and observe every particular person constructing. No have to maintain observe of 5 totally different sources. No actual (or real looking) limitations on military sizes.
It’s good to go “back to basics,” so to talk, and I’m all for an RTS with much less micromanagement. That stated, I’m discovering Command & Conquer Remastered a bit too simplistic and a bit too unbalanced (particularly Red Alert and its overpowered Soviet tanks).
And with some other recreation, I would’ve stopped taking part in. I’ve caught with Command & Conquer although, significantly Red Alert. I haven’t completed both the American or Soviet marketing campaign but—however I wish to, as a result of I’m loving the story.
Command & Conquer’s different declare to fame is after all its reside motion (or FMV) cutscenes. You could also be accustomed to Tim Curry’s scenery-chewing efficiency from Red Alert 3—and in the event you aren’t, you should be.
Neither Tiberian Dawn nor the unique Red Alert are fairly as campy, however they’re not that far behind. I imply, come on: Red Alert opens with Einstein touring again to 1931 to kill Hitler, returning to the current to search out the united states conquering Europe in Germany’s absence. It’s entertaining as hell, sitting in fake-Stalin’s briefing room and watching a bunch of actors in finances costumes cheese via their traces.
It’s a few of the finest FMV the ‘90s had to offer, and only diminished slightly by the fact Petroglyph couldn’t discover the unique footage for Red Alert. Tiberian Dawn seems to be clear, and I think about they rescanned the unique movie. In Red Alert although we get AI-enhanced uprezzes of the compressed footage from 1996, which is…nicely, not fairly as legible as you’d hope.
Even so, it’s conserving me going via mission after mission. They definitely don’t make RTS tales like this anymore—or actually any video games with tales like this.
Command & Conquer Remastered is a unbelievable revival of two genre-defining video games. It’s an necessary historic doc, and it’s one of the best ways to revisit your previous recollections in the event you assume they’re value revisiting.
Whether it stands by itself? I don’t assume so. This isn’t Age of Empires II or StarCraft—and even Red Alert 2, which I hope EA ultimately remasters, and which I feel may stand side-by-side with the most effective the style has to supply at present. Tiberian Dawn and the unique Red Alert, as necessary as they’re, merely don’t maintain up in the identical approach. They’re pleasurable sufficient, however solely taken within the context during which they had been made.
And that’s tremendous! This one’s for the followers, and the followers deserve it. Just don’t be stunned if you end up wishing for extra from Command & Conquer Remastered. The RTS style’s come a good distance since 1995—and now that it’s lastly displaying indicators of life once more, possibly there’s extra highway to journey.
I guess Petroglyph may make one hell of a Command & Conquer 5, given the possibility.