Command & Conquer 3 Tiberium Wars ReviewCain Dornan
It’s the classic benchmark-setting Real-Time Strategy series from 1995, only repainted with some cool new graphics and touched-up with various new refreshing elements that combine to form a familiar – yet fresh – strategic gaming experience. That’s right, Command & Conquer is back folks, and it plays just as good as we’ve always remembered it. After releasing countless entries to the series since the franchise’s debut back in August 1995, Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars serves up a familiar, almost nostalgic gameplay experience that sees a number of relatively small new additions to help keep the series feeling fresh and new, all the while providing that same old gameplay that we’ve grown to adore so greatly. While it’s unlikely to turn around previous non-fans of the series, those who have spent countless hours commanding the NOD or GDI units in the past will find plenty to love in EA’s revival of the classic franchise.
While the game remains to play very much the same as its mid-1990’s classics, EA has added a number of subtle additions to the gameplay that manages to make it more modern, all the while maintaining that distinct C&C experience that we’ve grown to love. One of the major new additions to the gameplay is the introduction of a third faction, an invading alien race known as the Scrin. This new force offers long-time fans of the franchise an entirely new – and noticeably unique – faction to play as, one that is very different to the NOD and GDI teams but also familiar in the way in which it is controlled and balance.
You see, the entire nature of the new Scrin army is very unique. The units are distinctly alien, as are the buildings that you will build. Whereas the NOD and GDI buildings do carry some noticeable similarities, Scrin constructions are in no way anything alike. To begin with, you’ll have no idea what each building actually is, as its futuristic and unclear nature will take some getting used to. Likewise with the very odd Scin units that you command, which will require quite some playing around with in order to determine which ones are best used in each situation. While confusing at first, the new Scrin faction is a thoroughly interesting addition to the game, breathing in some much needed life and variation into an old war that was long in need of something new. The Scrin also boast some very interesting advanced powers. The Scrin’s answer to the GDI’s Ion Cannon, for example, is a large, dark worm-hole that essentially sucks away everything within its vicinity. The power of this weapon alone is capable of clearing an entire base with a single hit.
Despite the heavy differences with the new faction, the Scrin remain to be evenly balanced with both the NOD and GDI. That is, each faction has their own distinct strengths and weaknesses, each offering up a fair variation in different units and construction abilities. There’s no clear good or bad team; instead, each faction offers up a gameplay style that will appeal to different gamers. You’ll develop a preferred taste towards a particular faction, and you’ll stick with it through most of the games you play.
As with previous C&C games, Tiberium Wars includes full-motion, human acted cinematics in-between each of the single player campaign missions on offer. Each of the cinematics are well presented with a mixture of professional yet unashamedly corny acting that works surprisingly well. Beyond the often elaborate locations and the forced seriousness of some of the actors, you can’t help but enjoy many of the cinematics, although some of the excessive rambling can grow a bit stale. The same actor who has been used as the infamous NOD leader, Kane, has once again returned, putting in a top effort that proves to be the best actor out of the lot; he’s sinister, sly and downright superb for his role.
Outside of the single player campaign is the classic skirmish mode, allowing you to go crazy across several handfuls of maps designed to cater for differing numbers of teams; some designed specifically for two warring teams, whilst others will offer a full-on eight team skirmish. While the skirmish mode remains largely the same as the previously released games in the series, it offers a bunch of new nifty features and options that expand the number of possible game types that can be encountered. It’s not an amazing skirmish mode, and in some aspects it’s fairly bare-bones. It’s solid, though, and offers countless hours of RTS fun if you love nothing more than taking on countless other teams at once.
There’s also a fairly solid online multiplayer, although we hear that quite a few people are experiencing problems, namely connection and timeout issues as of the writing of this review which EA are yet to iron out. We also had some problems finding good online matches where everyone offered good ping rates. Regardless, once in an online match, the multiplayer component is a solid and – if you love the game’s skirmish mode – a definite worthwhile experience. Bonus features of the multiplayer mode include full leaderboards and clan features, as well as the ability to spectate online matches when you download the free BattleCast client. This proves to offer a great feature during clan tournaments or competitions with your mates.
The game’s visuals for an RTS title is quite impressive, featuring some well detailed and animated units in all factions. Given the uniqueness of the alien Scrin race, many of the Scrin units are fantastically detailed through their sheer creativity and haunting appearances, adding some much needed variation from the often familiar unit designs found with the NOD and GDI factions. The animation with each of the different units are quite impressive, as are unit and building designs, causing for some great interest when you discover a new unit or building for the first time as you examine EA’s creativity behind the design of the game. Although the visuals aren’t quite the best seen in this genre, they certainly are beautiful to look, making it one of the better looking RTS games out there.
The game’s sound is quite solid, with the actor’s efforts during the cinematics working quite well given the cheesy nature of its presentation. In game sound is mostly great also, with classic strategic background music accompanying each of the maps, some great sound effects and decent, although occasionally monotonically annoying, unit voice-overs.
It doesn’t exactly revolutionise the genre, nor does it set a new benchmark to be met as its early predecessors did. Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars is, however, a fantastic return of the classic RTS series, serving up more of that addictive gameplay in a refreshing new world with some new added features that help to renew the experience for long-time fans of the renowned franchise. While it doesn’t do anything new; what it does is serve up more of that classic addictive gaming that you know and love, all the while mixing in some nice new additions (such as the Scrin faction) which pose as a refresher for long time fans. Definitely worth a look for fans of the franchise or the RTS genre.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.