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PC Reviews: Command & Conquer Generals


Command & Conquer Generals Screenshots


The Final Say!




Command & Conquer Generals
reviewed by Andrew B
Review Date: 19 February 2003
Review Score: 9.3/10 
Distributor: EA

"The master of Real-Time Strategy Games has returned with one of the most realistic gaming experiences ever... Command & Conquer Generals!"

Command & Conquer is the grand daddy of real-time strategy (RTS) games and has spawned dozens of clones world wide but when it comes to the original, it's still one of the best damn RTS game around. Originally Westwood moved away from the Command & Conquer series to establish the highly popular Red Alert series but now Westwood has returned to the basics that promises gamers a more in-depth RTS experience and with one of the most highly advanced graphics engines around. 

Unlike previous games in the series and spin-offs, Command & Conquer Generals (Generals) is set in the volatile world of today, gone are the futuristic battles of tomorrow and the science fiction storylines. With a more realistic storyline, Generals takes place in a world that is about to break out into full scale warfare with the US, Chinese and Global Liberation Army (GLA) trying to gain the upper hand on their enemies.

Generals contains the traditional gameplay modes found in all good RTS games that include single player, multi-player and skirmish modes. This review will be based on the single-player mode that is the main emphasis of this game and contains over 27 missions. The single player storyline contains three different campaigns with each faction trying to bring their view on how the world should be. Considering how volatile world-peace is in our world, it isn't surprising to see the first US based mission of the game is set in Baghdad where your troops must literally storm this city to help rid the region of terror. Depending on which campaign you select at the start, each country in the game has its own strengths and weaknesses. The United States has military might in the skies with their power in fighter planes, while the GLA has military might in their terrorist attacks such as suicide bombers, terrorists and biological warfare. Whereas the Chinese have good old fashioned power such as tanks and troops.

When it comes to power, each country has their own specialized weapon of destruction that range from a whole variety of combat units to the dreaded nuclear arsenals, particle weapons and the middle east's infamous scud missiles. Westwood has also gone down the road of "hero" units that were introduced a few years ago in other RTS games. This time, these hero units are now veterans that have the ability to become more proficient fighters that also include prestige such as rank that will also increase their ability to perform in battle.

With these veteran units, it is sometimes possible to take on a whole army of recruits and basically devastate enemy armies because of their experience, accuracy and firepower. Although these veteran units are not as crucial to the game as heroes were in Warcraft III, they do help make the game more fun. The basic premise behind Generals (besides the missions) is to setup base in enemy or neutral territories and build a base that is capable of creating mass weapons of destructions such as troops, tanks, planes and satellites. Once you have your base created and hopefully well defended, you can then concentrate on taking over the map by engaging enemy troops and then destroying enemy bases. Although Generals is based on a RTS gaming tree, that is, you must develop base units before you can create higher units, a new addition to the game is the introduction of a promotional system that allows you (the gamer) to get promoted during the game. These promotions are given on how well you perform during a mission. With these promotions, you are then able to create specialty units that really give you an edge when it comes to warfare. The control system is virtually identical to previous RTS games where the gamer uses the mouse to control, build and move their units around the map. The keyboard is seldom used unless you wish to change options, set way points or use hotkeys.

The most notable difference between this game and other RTS games by Westwood is the jump from a 2D gaming engine to a beautifully recreated 3D gaming world. The down-side to the glorious 3D engine is that you literally need a super computer to run this game with full detail turned on. Unlike other games in the genre such as Impossible Creatures or Warcraft III, these two games worked on a variety of computers, however for Generals, it's another kettle of fish. It should be noted that the graphics in Generals is extremely impressive and the attention to detail is truly amazing. There are literally hundreds of things happening on screen at once such as civilians moving about their everyday life or enemy troops invading cities. All the units in the game are made up from polygons that are ideal for 3D games because they give them a realistic look without the need to use sprites, not to mention they all have very realistic movements to them. The game contains some great lighting effects such that are used in conjunction with weather and some great day and night features. The explosions in the game are huge and look straight out of a Hollywood blockbuster movie, especially when a high rise building is coming down. Even the little things in the game have been professionally implemented such as the jet trails of fighter planes or the smoke and dust from troops. With so many objects on screen at once such as trees, rivers, buildings, water effects and units, it's no surprise as to why Generals requires a high-end computer system. 

The musical score of Generals, although non-intrusive helps set the atmosphere of the game, of a world gone mad and really helps get you in the mood for war. There is also a variety of different musical scores that helps keep everything fresh and new. The sound effects of the game are extremely impressive and everything has its own unique sound to it, whether its the powerful tanks of the Chinese or explosions of suicide bombers because when it comes to realism, this game has it all. The voice acting of the game is also very professional but sometimes a little cheesy for the "evil" super powers such as the Chinese and the GLA because of the babble of the troops such as the liberation of their people. Still, it all comes together perfectly, with brilliant gameplay, amazing graphics and perfect music & sound. 

Command & Conquer Generals isn't a good game, no, it's far from that... it's a damn good game that takes RTS games that one step further. Apart from the perfection of the game, Generals also offers gamers one of the most impressive multiplayer games of 2003 and will clearly become a favourite for our LAN parties, gone are the days of Red Alert 2, for Generals is now the new King of the Hill when it comes to RTS. If you haven't played a RTS game before, then this is the game to play, if you are a RTS fan, then this is also the game to get as it has something for everyone, whether rookie or veteran, Command & Conquer Generals is truly a perfect game.

- Andrew B

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