One of my all-time favorite game studios was Westwood Studios. I remember playing Command & Conquer for literally hundreds of hours in the late 90s. Red Alter, Tiberian Sun, Dune 2000 and all of the expansion packs were at one time part of my game collection. Hell, I even played Nox. Yet, there was also an air of mystery surrounding the game developer. Westwood Studios had loads of intricate partnerships and license agreements – something I delved into recently. As an example, the expansion packs for Red Alert were made by London-based developer Intelligent Games. In hindsight it should not be considered a surprise Westwood was devoured by Electronic Arts. The latter quickly turned C & C into an utterly forgettable series. But we will always have the original Command & Conquer.
Command & Conquer
On June 5th this year the original Command & Conquer game from 1995 and its Red Alert offspring / semi-sequel from 1996 will get a new release. This remaster is done in cooperation with Petroglyph Games – the spiritual successor to Westwood Studios. The two games will be released as Command & Conquer Remastered Collection. You can already pre-order the games from Steam and Origin for $19.95. However, physical copies are also possible. Two of which: the special edition and the 25th anniversary edition will retail for $59.00 and $149.99 respectively. Both will feature a considerable number physical items: from posters and pins to little statues and an art book. These editions retail from LimitedRunGames and can be ordered until April 10th.
Improvements to Command & Conquer
So what can we expect from Command & Conquer Remastered Collection? Well, for a start the cut-scenes will be scaled up using algorithms – just as with the Blade Runner game announced below. The audio and visuals will also receive updates, making the latter run in 4K. From the trailer it becomes obvious new character and structure models were created – but in the style of the original game. EA will also support the multi-player modes with new dedicated servers intended to discourage cheating.
The original Red Alert was probably the first game I played using broadband internet when it became available in neighborhood in 1998. In addition there will also be some bonus content. The ant missions will return, as will the spec ops mission from the console version. To top it off the game’s User Interface has also been enhanced, thus permitting features that did not come available until later iterations such as unit stacking.
One of the best things about the original games was the soundtrack by Frank Klepacki. Who can forget Act on Instinct and Hell March? All of the music is being updated by Frank Klepacki and The Tiberian Suns. Players will now also be able to create their own Juke box and stack the songs as they wish. Some fans have wondered why not more games from the series will be released. I know there is a whole generation of players that only gained access to the franchise with Red Alert 2 but remastering a game is not easy. The original two Command & Conquer games used the same engine while Tiberian Sun and Red Alert 2 switched to another.
A Blade Runner remaster has been desired by fans of the game for years. The graphic were by 1997 standards already subpar – especially compared with Grim Fandango that came out the year after. Yet, it sported cut scenes and lots of visually impressive art. As the original source code and assets were lost it would have been prohibitively expensive make them again. Yet the Blade Runner game was rereleased in late 2019 on GOG.com – in its original format.
Now the news has come that the Blade Runner game will indeed get a remaster as well. It’s called the Enhanced Edition. While the source code remains lost a lot of it has been reverse engineered. Thus allowing for higher resolution gameplay. Meanwhile the cutscenes have also been scaled up using Deep Learning algorithms. The remaster will also feature customized controls which will be a welcome addition as it is slated for Windows, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. How the game will actually play without a mouse still has to be determined.
From the developers of System Shock
The Blade Runner Enhanced Edition is being developed by none other than Nightdive Studios, who are also making a remaster of the original System Shock game. See my preview of that game from a few weeks ago. Nightdive Studios CEO Stephen Kick has this to say about the Blade Runner Enhanced Edition, “While you can enjoy the benefits of playing the game on modern hardware, the game should look and feel not as it was, but as glorious as you remember it being.” The game is set for release later on in 2020.
If like me you cannot get enough of Blade Runner then checkout the following pages. Currently I am reviewing the Blade Runner 2019 comic series month by month. I also have a review of the Blade Runner 2049 movie by Denis Villeneuve. To top it off there is also a dedicated Blade Runner page, which will receive a significant update in the near future. Don’t forget to hit the subscribe button on the right!
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