Preface: Well, hello one and all, I'm feeling somewhat like I've just moved into a new schoolâ€¦ Let me introduce myself, I'm Jim, and I'm CNCSeries' new article writer. Having just switched my allegiance from Deus Ex back to the familiar territory of RTS, I hope you can forgive me for my foray in the forbidden lands of RPG-dom. Anyway, hope you enjoy my first attempt at a coherent article. Thanks,
Everybody remembers their first time playing Command and Conquer. Everybody remembers the vivid full motion video, the stunning graphics, and top of the range techno-esque sound track (My personal favourite being "Fight, Win, Prevail!"). More importantly however, people remember the dawning of a new age in Real Time Strategy.
Since the release of the very first Command and Conquer Title back in the summer of 1995, and the subsequent release of it's prequel, Red Alert, in October 1996, these games have captivated the imagination of armchair generals across the globe. The innovations of this series not only forced many developers to completely rethink their ideas, but also resulted in a huge rise of expectation amongst the gaming public, as well as the seduction of many players into strategy gaming for the first time. (I being one of those players also!)
Then came the most hyped sequel of all time - Tiberian Sun. Despite introducing a new voxel engine, complemented by a gripping story line, the biggest let down for Tib Sun was it's sad lack of a solid and evolving Multiplayer community. TibEdit, a fan based map editor attempted to, but failed, in an attempt to revive the community with new user made maps. These let downs however would be worked into, Westwood announced, Red Alert 2. Despite having an engine already outdated by the likes of Earth 2150, and a number of distinctly mediocre reviews in gaming magazines, (That is, compared to the previous titles in the series) The appeal of a previously proven formula and a slinky DVD case proved too much. People bought it. They bought it a lot. Judging by the sales figures, it is safe to say that Red Alert 2 is more popular than Buddha and Judaism combined.
The release of Final Alert 2, a fan-based editor finalised and polished by Westwood, means that the Community of RA2 online will have many a happy game ahead of them (Provided they don't get rushed by Rob first - Ed). Yet, as we see our precious CNC series being slowly eroded by the new 3D engines of "Z: Steel Soldiers" and even Westwood's own "Emperor: Battle for Dune", we need to ask ourselves one question - "What next?"
Well, unless you've been in a coma for a few years, you'll have heard of Renegade. This long awaited first person venture in the CNC universe still doesn't have an official release date from Westwood, but I'll stick my non-existent reputation on the line in saying that I would expect several major delays. Will Renegade be any good? From the media released already, in my opinion, it looks superb. The released documents suggest that, like many of the hot titles out just now, Deus Ex springs to mind, Westwood plan to incorporate elements from many genres into Renegade. Expect Stealth to be a major component, that is, along side brute force :o)
The future of the Command and Conquer series seems uncertain. Have Westwood played their RTS trump card too soon? Will they somehow revive a loose end of a story line? What is left of Nod to destroy in CNC3, or of the Soviet Union in RA3? Will we have to say goodbye to our favourite games and resign them to the "Unplayable on anything over a P5 5 Ghz pile" some time in the future? Who knows? What I intend to do here is give some insight into the possibilities of the future.
The storyline of Command and Conquer, in the first game and Tiberium Sun at least, seemed almost reasonable. In the wake of the collapse of the USSR, some group of religious nutters gets hold of weapons they shouldn't have and BAAM! You got yourself a war. Given the events of the last few days, with no disrespect to those killed and wounded, we have seen just how vulnerable the mighty U.S.A. is to carefully planned and executed attacks. A series of events Ã¡ la C&C is very unlikely, damned near impossible - but it was the mixture of reality and fiction that made it such a gripping story.
When Red Alert was released however, things went from almost reasonable to completely absurd. Albert Einstein changing history?!? Deleting Hitler?!? DON'T DO IT ALBERT!! Oh peanuts - too late, Uncle Joe and his boys have invaded Western Europe! Time to listen to some Kebab Shop Owning Greek General along with a long-legged, big-breasted chick called Tanya and repulse the Communist invasion. But, with a game this good and such well balanced units, the story could have been about the Huge Conflict between the owners of the Baja Oil Rigs and the forces of the Republic of Ireland - no-one would have cared!
Alas however, crazy and completely off topic storylines can only last so long. With time travel, ion cannons, invulnerability, weather control, psychic powers and intel officers you would quite happily try and bag, what can be left to exploit? Is there really nowhere to turn? Well, in short - NO! A quick check on the Network Solutions Page and found that the domains RedAlert3.com and TiberianTwilight.com, amongst other variations of the two names, are registered to, yes, Westwood Studios. Quelle Surprise!
Perhaps Westwood are just future proofing their domains in case they decide to further develop C&C. But who registered the names - because it is in Westwood's name, they must have had a meeting or consultation of some degree and decided to purchase these domains. Therefore, I conclude, Dr. Watson, that something is indeed afoot. Despite no official announcement, I would be forced to assume that a Tiberian Sun Sequel, probably "Tiberian Twilight" and a Red Alert 2 Sequel, surprisingly titled "Red Alert 3" are at the very least being considered for development. The future is bright, fear not Command and Conquer fans! The Tiberian Twilight is on the horizon! (That was supposed to be ironic - Ed) .