Command & Conquer: two words that have changed the face of Real Time Strategy games. The C&C Series is a revolutionary one; spawning many, many poor imitations, as well as some good ones it must be said.
The original Command & Conquer was based upon the Dune engine developed by Westwood. It plotted the forces of GDI (Global Defense Initiative) against the evil forces of NOD, in an epic battle for control of the world. This game was the start of something big - something very, very big. Surely Westwood did not release that this RTS would spawn a brand-new generation of RTS games and result in a multitude of best-seller sequels? Command & Conquer was, at it's time of creation, simply awe-inspiring. The fast paced action of the game, combined with its simple, sheer playability, made certain that it was a sure fire hit. Looking back on it now, the game appears 'crusty', 'old' and 'scrappy' - but the playability is still there, and will always be there. The beauty of the C&C series is that each game is so playable, providing fast-paced, furious, end to end action.
The Original Command & Conquer will forever live on in the hearts of many players. It signalled a new dawn for Real Time Strategy gaming. Command & Conquer eclipsed Westwoods previous Real Time Strategy attempts (Dune) with ease, and lead on to even bigger and better things.
The next game in the Command & Conquer series was Red Alert, a huge improvement on the original, especially in terms of graphics. Whilst the game did not carry on with the GDI-NOD story from the original, it retained the furious action of Command & Conquer. Red Alert saw more options, control and tactics; it was a brilliant achievement and, as with every Command & Conquer game, was a world-wide seller. Red Alert was the turning point of the series in terms of graphics, in my opinion: the graphics were greatly improved from its prequel - and were far sharper. Red Alert was a multi-console success (it was available on the Playstation as well as the PC). Then came the next game in the series.
Tiberian Sun was released in 1997/98; it followed the plot of the original Command & Conquer - set in the Tiberium Universe. Tiberian Sun was a huge change in the style of Command & Conquer games; the appearance and game-engine were totally changed, far more units and buldings were available; allowing for a multitude of tactics. Attacks from above, below and on ground were all possible. However many people were disappointed with Tiberian Sun, they felt that Westwood had let them down; one sorely missed option, in my opinion, was the ability to wage war on the seas; this is a vital part of the game and adds a whole new dimension to strategy games.
Overall it can be said that Tiberian Sun was a relative success. Whilst many people did feel disappointed, many were pleased. In my own opinion, I thought that the game was worth the money I paid for it: the game was enjoyable yet admittedly flawed in some aspects. Whilst people were busy playing on Tiberian Sun, the guys at Westwood set to work on their next Command & Conquer project - Red Alert 2.
Red Alert 2 was released in October 2000 after approximately 3 years in development - it was an instant hit. It sold over a million copies world-wide within weeks. Red Alert 2 is superior to its predecessors in every way possible. Its graphics, whilst 2D, are still excellent in my opinion. The voxels are quite sharp and effects such as explosions and gun fire, both look and sound great. The addition of special country-specific units to Red Alert 2 has brought a whole new dimension to the Command & Conquer genre, changing the way in which people play; and allowing people a better opportunity to find their ideal side.
Red Alert 2 has taken the world by storm; spawning many fan sites and many mods. It has a huge online gaming community (over 250,000 play Red Alert 2 online alone) and is always expanding. Red Alert 2 is fast, furious and simply put, quite brilliant. The gameplay is awesome, the options outstanding and the sheer playability of the game is staggering. Well done Westwood!
Command & Conquer is the premier strategy series, even eclipsing the likes of Age of Empires in my opinion. I expect, and hope, that the C&C Series will be here for a long time: it is a remarkable achievement made possible only by the excellent work of the guys at Westwood and the loyalty of their fans. If you like strategy, you will like the Command & Conquer series. Fast, furious, exciting, adrenaline-pumping, playable, brilliant - there are so many words that can be used to describe the series. If you have never bought a Command & Conquer game, then get one! Or better still, get them all!