Iconic games updated for the modern era
The year was 1995. I was commanding a battalion of tanks with the infantry at its rear as support, trying to take out an enemy base.
No, I was not in the army conducting a war game. I was playing the remastered version of the video game Command & Conquer (C&C): Tiberium Dawn.
This is the game that defined the real-time strategy (RTS) genre when it was released 25 years ago. It was followed up by C&C: Red Alert – a prequel of sorts – in 1996.
These two games are widely recognised as the grandparents of the RTS genre, which led to the rise of the popular multiplayer online battle arena genre.
However, RTS as a genre has been on the decline, with relatively few titles released in the past few years.
So, imagine my glee when the C&C Remastered Collection was released last month. This release updates the two iconic games for the modern era.
The collection consists of C&C: Tiberium Dawn and C&C: Red Alert, as well as their respective expansion packs – C&C: The Covert Operations, Red Alert: Counterstrike and Red Alert: The Aftermath.
The Nintendo 64 and PlayStation missions, which were not available in the original PC versions, have also been remastered and included here.
The two main games – Tiberium Dawn and Red Alert – have different storylines, but their gameplay is identical. Indeed, one of C&C’s greatest strengths is its simplicity.
You start by building your base, followed by making sure it has enough power to operate, gathering resources such as Tiberium to raise money and using the money to raise your army with riflemen and tanks. All of these are done with single clicks of your mouse.
The first thing you see when you boot up the game is an animated sequence that updates the game in 4K graphics.
• Every bit of the original games is nicely remastered
• Same old addictive gameplay
• Nice improvements such as build queueing and better controls
• Old issues not resolved
• Full-motion videos still come in low-resolution
PRICE: $26.90 (PC only)
GENRE: Real-time strategy
When you start the mission map, you will be greeted with the original, almost 8-bit-like graphics. Tap the space bar to toggle between the original graphics and the 4K version.
The latter is a quantum leap in graphics improvement and I wonder how I had survived those pixellated graphics then.
Whether it is the user interface, map terrain, buildings, infantry or tanks, everything is markedly improved in terms of resolution, with the various game elements now far easier to discern. For instance, I can now easily distinguish between a grenadier and a rifleman.
The audio has also been upgraded, with gunshots, explosions and a unit’s responses sounding sharper. Red Alert’s iconic “Hell March” anthem has never felt more exhilarating.
In addition, you can customise the controls – from the past one-click-do-all scheme to more specific moves such as left-click to select units and right-click to move units. Plus, you can now queue the units to build, instead of previously building one unit at a time.
Other improvements and new features include a map editor, rebuilt and more accessible multiplayer options, unreleased full-motion video (FMV) sequences and behind-the-scene videos.
But while the remastering is almost perfect, some flaws of the original games remain. For example, the artificial intelligence (AI) of your units still leaves much to be desired. The units can get stuck behind obstacles such as trees or cliffs during movement.
After a while, the missions feel the same as the premise for most is simply to build units and eliminate enemies, despite the presence of some interesting clandestine and sabotage missions. The missions are still addictive to play, though.
The FMV sequences between missions were superb in the old games and something I would always look forward to despite the cheesy lines and C-grade acting.
The FMV sequences in the remastered games still look low-resolution.
For an oldie like me, playing the C&C Remastered Collection is a great trip down memory lane.
However, I am not sure if the younger generation will like it or if it will lead to a resurgence of the RTS genre. Only time will tell.
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