For a few days now I have been playing two games that I have not played in over a decade – Command & Conquer. And I am referring to the first two games: Tiberian Dawn and Red Alert released in 1995 and 1996 by Westwood Studios. These games may well be the first games of which I became a fanboy. I remember purchasing the special edition of Red Alert back when it was released. It included the game soundtrack by Frank Klepacki, a t-shirt and a poster. A little booklet described the game designers – people whose name I remember to this day.
It is a little bit ironic that as I purchased the Collector’s Edition from Limited Run Games so I will get a new version of each item later this year. That was my longwinded intro announcing that EA’s Command & Conquer Remastered Collection has just been released – and they did not fuck it up!
Remastering Command & Conquer
I suppose it is understandable that both games were released part of the same remaster. They were released back to back and used the same game engine. In fact I think subsequent patches ensured the code base remained the same. However, for this remaster all of the textures have gotten a high-definition upgrade. So with the push of the spacebar the game transforms from its mid-90s visual aesthetics to a more modern looks. I say modern, with that I mean clean, less pixelated.
Such a buff might not be without some controversy as visuals might not be what the original designers intended. But I believe they were done with care and attention to detail. Overall, it makes the game playable again reintroducing me to the very addictive gameplay. At the same time EA has completely revamped online multiplayer. Practically every metric can be adjusted, from the tech level to game speed and the number of players in a match.
Four campaigns + multiplayer
I am not going to recap the entire story of the first two Command & Conquer games. I am sure you are familiar with it. As a substitute to spice from the Dune 2 game Westwood used Tiberium, in Red Alert it was just ore. With both games packaged together players have access to 4 single player campaigns. GDI vs the brotherhood of NOD in the first game with the Allies vs the Soviets in the second. Put together with the addition of mission campaigns from the expansion packs there is a lot to do. To put it bluntly, there is no reason for a C&C fan not to pay 20 $ for the remastered package.
It allows you to play Tiberian Dawn and Red Alert whenever you like. That does not mean the games are perfect. Even by the mid-90s standards there were some weird bugs. They are mostly to do with unit pathfinding. When tanks are stuck in a traffic jam they will inexplicably take the long route to the target, passed all of the enemy gun turrets. The same goes for the harvester who on occasion can become deadlocked.
So there we have it. A remaster of two classic games done to perfection. These last few days have been an adorable road trip back to the dorky side of 90s. And lets face its, there was plenty of that around. From the ‘units lost’ voiceover to ‘acknowledged’ with a fake Russian accent this C&C remaster has it all. And it is still a good game, maybe the single player is a bit too easy, tank rushes are still as popular as they were 25 years ago but that is to be expected I think. Please do return in a few months when the limited edition finally arrives with all of the goodies.