Hybrid is the latest word that society has become obsessed with; whether is be the hybrid engine or the hybrid corn. The idea of combining two ideas/concepts/items into one ultra/ultimate/super thing is not new but recently has become the latest hip thing to have. Not wanting to fall behind in this competitive market, Westwood released its answer; Renegade, with, supposedly, a combination of arguably two of the most popular game genres: FPS (First Person Shooter) and RTS (Real Time Strategy). As most of you know, Westwood is the brain child behind the classic series of Red Alert and the Tiberian series. These two series have made Westwood an infinitesimal amount of money and have been the cornerstone of their company as other titles have not lived up to the legacy set by Command & Conquer and Red Alert.
Renegade: A true 'hybrid'? Or just a marketing ploy?
RTS, probably the second most popular game genre, has always lacked a certain element that has kept it from attaining the historical, world-wide status that FPS games do. That is the personal touch. Sure you see your tanks and your guys moving around and you order them to blow stuff up and kill things, but you don't do it your self: you're some god-like figure that is standing over the battlefield manipulating and ordering the units to do your bidding, but to do it yourself at "the ground level" is a much more exciting experience. The bragging rights for one are more personal; for example, you don't just say "HAHA I blew up your base," but "HAHA, I put a bullet through YOUR head". The latter is much more effective for bragging rights purposes. So some geek locked away in a bunker somewhere deep under Westwood's world headquarters in the city of sin thought "Why not let the fans experience their favorite Command & Conquer game at the ground level? It'll be great!" and because of that man I sit here at my laptop typing this article on a beautiful, sunny afternoon, giving my two cents on exactly how successful the introduction of Renegade as a 'hybrid' was.
Firstly, lets examine some of the advantages of each genre (online):
FPS - Great for lots of players (i.e. 4 on 4 and above), state of the art graphics in environment and detail, multiple methods of fragging your opponent, don't worry about self (unlimited respawn), multiple modes of game play (capture the flag, death match, etc) and single player missions are often in-depth and have multiple tasks.
RTS - Requires management of resources and units (i.e. strategy), usually not very much lag and if any affects both players not just one person (i.e. one person can't destroy the others base while he is lagging), defined victory conditions in all games (the first to destroy the others units wins) and simple effective tournament (ladder) system.
Those are just a few but some of the most important advantages of FPS and RTS games respectively. Now let's move on to the drawbacks of each genre:
FPS - Games often can be laggy for 56k'ers - for example, you can one second be one place then another be dead or halfway across the map, tournament system very complex due to the amount of players constantly jumping in our out of games, teams/sides can often be lopsided due to the point just prior to this one, cheats galore and single player missions often hinge on finding secret or hidden things that can take a while to find and frustrate the player.
RTS - Different game modes yet same goal (i.e. same thing every time), any more than 1 on 1 and the games tend to be very slow and laggy unless you are on a LAN or fast connection and online competition requires your undivided attention which can be a nuisance if you have distractions around you or if your attention slips up at the wrong time.
Now that we have taken a look at the advantages and disadvantages of each genre lets look at how Renegade, the "hybrid" that it is, fits into each category. Firstly, here are some quotes, grabbed from the Official Renegade Website's random quote script, that display what some reviewers 'claimed':
"One of the most innovative and appealing cross-genre approaches yet." - IGN PC
"Definitely able to capture the hybrid RTS/FPS feeling" - Gamepro
Renegade is in first-person view with RTS graphics. Renegade has the money management of RTS games, with the lack of strategy of FPS (despite what people say that to succeed in Renegade it takes "teamwork", that is true for any FPS game if you look at clan strategies, but most Renegade games I was a part of one person often decided the game by doing a suicide rush and planting a superweapon beacon or blowing up a building with C4 - some of the same "strategies" used in other FPS games). One of the things I hate the most about Renegade is that it is to the advantage of the players to be the first ones in the game (i.e. the more money you make, the better unit you can get) and when you get the best unit you can haplessly slaughter the people that get stuck with the basic mini-gunner when they enter the game and either have to wait for money or go try, emphasis on 'try', to frag someone. Note also that the single player campaign in Renegade has no RTS in it at all; it is pure FPS.
Despite what ever Westwood says, the main purpose of Renegade was to sway some of the huge numbers of FPS players into the RTS environment where Westwood is a powerhouse. The logic being, we get them hooked on Renegade and they'll want to buy C&C and Red Alert or something to that affect. That is a good theory - however, for that to work you need a good game and Renegade quite frankly didn't deliver, even with the addition of air units. The graphics and quick movement that are staples of a good FPS game are nowhere to be found in Renegade and having consulted many a gamers who are versed in the UT, RTCW, and SF universes, the general opinion seems to be that "Renegade just doesn't deliver". I would say that Renegade is no more involved with the RTS genre than other games of its ilk: it is not worthy of the title of 'hybrid'.
Until one has the ability to command battles both from a zoomed out perspective (as with RTS games such as Red Alert 2) and from 'in the battle' (as with Renegade), a true hybrid of the two genres will never be achieved. It would be a tremendous achievement to create a successful hybrid, for the scale of the size of the project would, quite simply put, be awesome. No game has yet fully achieved 'hybrid' status, despite Renegade's claims. It could be many years before we witness a true catalyst of the RTS and FPS genres, if ever.