Westwood's ‘Command And Conquer: Renegade' is a game with high expectations that are well earned. It has an impressive array of weapons, and is set at the ground level of an already insanely popular game that started a revolution in RTS games. But the question we must ask is how it will compare to other games of the same genre. That is, will Renegade's single player shine as that of Deus Ex? Will the multiplayer mayhem be at all similar to that found in Quake III Arena or Unreal Tournament? Will we be enraptured in this game and make it the almighty game of the year for the first person shooters… or will Renegade gather dust with other discarded ‘has-beens'?
The single player missions look promising indeed. There is the obvious influence of strategy in this game, in that as you go through the game, the decisions that you make will affect your environment. Should you take out the SAM site, you can get an air strike. However, you may wish to conserve your ammo for taking on other tasks.
This type of strategy is what I think really makes an FPS great. Renegade designers know what the people want, and this ability to influence the game is part of that. However, one must also consider that there are many games out there in which you can tinker with near anything. In Deus Ex, you cater your character to fit your own style. Become a hacker and disable security systems, or just go in with guns blazing. Renegade doesn't present this type of customability, but it still does provide more than other games.
Now what about multiplayer? I'm sure if you ask any of the beta testers or check out any of their screenies, you would agree that chaos and frags are aplenty. But will Renegade come close to shaking the giants named UT, Q3A, and the recent RtCW?
Honestly, I would say yes. There is already a great fan base in the Command and Conquer universe, and it will only grow enormously with the release of Renegade, which means that there will always be thousands (if not more) games available to join. Plus, Renegade does hold the edge over other games in that you can drive vehicles. Nowhere in normal UT do you climb behind the wheel of a Flame Tank. Mm… toasty. Tribes 2 does offer this feature as well, and in my opinion, a good job is done in that, so one might want to try to compare the vehicle usage in Tribes 2 to the same of Renegade. After all, we want to be able to frag people on foot, and run them over with a NOD Attack Cycle, but having too much of either would make the game too mundane in my humble opinion.
Another thing... what about Bots? Westwood has yet to make mention of whether or not there will be AI opponents to add to the insanity in multiplayer. And if there are, how good will the Team AI be? I can't tell you how much I hope that I don't get stuck with Bot teammates that get stuck trying to run into a wall, or that decide to camp out in the hallway I'm trying to run down. And will a type of Auto Adjust be available to change the level of difficulty according to the skills of the player? The better you play, the better the bots, that's what I always say.
Another topic that I think is definitely to be discussed is the modding capability of this jewel. There's many different ways to mod a game, some of the examples being a complete makeover, like DeeZire for RA2, or a simple mutator type mod, such as the popular ‘InstaGib' mod for Unreal Tournament. Personally, I think that the wisest decision that Westwood could make in this category is to follow Unreal Tournament's recipe with easy modding. Create a mod, save it into a self extracting file, and then apply it to the game. Then use a list with all of your mods to choose which ones you want and don't want. There is no denying that Renegade will be modded, but the main hope of myself and others in the mod community is that Westwood will make it easy to mod Renegade.
So, what's my verdict? Obviously, like all games, Renegade will have its ups and downs. I think that the single player will have a rich and beautiful storyline as is expected in the Command and Conquer games. While it could feature a bit more of the ability to influence the game based on your decisions, it almost surly satisfy the needs of the shooter and strategy audiences.
Multiplayer I think is the most promising part of Renegade. With Battle Clans already forming and the already huge Westwood Community, there will be grand battles galore. Also, with the mod kits being released by Westwood, mods will pop up like toast and allow great alteration and customability in the game we already love.