Just Plain Old...
Unfortunately there is a flip side to this old-school approach and it has to be said that the missions, though satisfying, are largely unimaginative and run the traditional gamut of strategy gameplay.
Sometimes you have a base ready-made, sometimes you have to capture structures, sometimes you have only one commando for the whole mission -- ultimately it doesn’t matter much because the main objective will always be to crush the other side with superior firepower and sheer numbers.
Though there are some levels that stand out in the bunch, like the Destroy/Save the White House mission, which has a dangerous slog along a gauntlet of garrisoned buildings, they mostly don’t feel that fresh when compared to the massive open spaces of other strategy titles.
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Pushing harder and farther through the campaigns reinforces the feeling that Tiberium Wars
is somehow... smug. It’s difficult to pin down, but the complete lack of innovation in gameplay hints at its existence nevertheless. With little new or altered in terms of game mechanics it’s easy to be left with the feeling that Tiberium Wars
is sneering at you, saying over and over that "Yes, I’m good. But I always was, I’ll never need to change."
The worst part of this feeling is that it’s true; C&C is good and it always was. Playing it feels like playing an updated version of Red Alert
, which is fitting given that its developers are all admitted fans of the C&C classics and have tried hard to recreate them.
It's not very surprising that Tiberium Wars
has some awesome skirmish and multiplayer options. In the earlier games it was the quickly set-up multiplayer modes that secured it a place in the LAN parties of my youth and made carrying PC's down the road worth all the effort.
As with the singleplayer campaigns there isn't a lot that has changed in the multiplayer modes. The selection of maps is small but sufficient and present enough variation to last until the worldbuilder is released for download later in the month when, we reckon, the world will suddenly be swamped by fan-made levels of varying levels of mediocrity.
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Multiplayer gaming also lets players use the new alien faction in the game, The Scrin. I'm not going to give anything away about The Scrin, mainly because they appear fairly late in the singleplayer campaign, but the units they offer show off a more inventive side to the developers. The Buzzer, for example, is the Scrin's first available infantry unit and is basically a small cloud of flying razorblades that swarm over infantry and which can be attached to vehicles in order to make them more effective against infantry. Nice!
The Scrin also have a set of somewhat unusual structures like the Growth Accelerator which causes nearby Tiberium to regenerate, providing sustainable cashflow for the mysterious alien army to fund their invasion with.
When the dust settles...Command & Conquer 3 Tiberium Wars
is nostalgia at its best, it has to be said. It may be based on an old template, but it always was a winning formula and its potency hasn’t faded. Playing it is like meeting up with an old childhood friend who has since become a very generous millionaire, it leaves you with a funny warm feeling inside and an admiration for how things have improved - even if the bulk is fundamentally the same. As a game it’s definitely worth picking up so that you can pledge wave after wave of your own men to your bloody, desperate cause.
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Having said that, the fact that the map editor isn't packaged with the game is something of a disappointment and means that we can't comment on the longevity of the multiplayer gaming. In the past games the editing tools available have helped players do everything from create their own units to simply rebalance maps to provide more of a challenge and helped ensure that, in some circles at least, even the oldest games in the series are still played regularly.
If the past is anything to go by then we're not too worried though as previous map editors for C&C
have always been well received and excellently supported. Keep reading for our analysis of the game's spanky new graphics engine and find out whether your PC has the grunt to keep pace with Maximum Detail...