Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars PC DVD-ROM
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: Electronic Arts
Release Date: Out Now
When looking at the various RTS series that have existed over the last ten years or so, few are as important, or as well liked, as the Command & Conquer series. Throughout the series' history there have been some titles that haven't been universally popular with its fans but for the most part the games have been enjoyable and of a very high quality. There can be little doubt however, that Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars is one of the best titles in the series. It's oozing with classic Command & Conquer goodness and it's a game that can't fail to please those who have enjoyed previous games in the series.
After a period of peace it appears that hostilities have once again broken out between the Global Defence Initiative (GDI) and the evil superpower known as The Brother of Nod (NOD). With most of the world now either uninhabitable or tainted by the green crystal-like substance known as Tiberium things are getting desperate for the GDI. Whilst Tiberium is a superb resource it's also an environmental disaster and a threat to humankind. As if the conflict between the GDI and NOD wasn't enough there is also an alien race to consider, the Scrin, who have designs on the Tiberium.
Command & Conquer 3 is choc-full of content and there's more than enough to satisfy any RTS gamer whether you're interested in the game for single or multiplayer thrills. The game offers a Campaign mode, a Skirmish mode and a Multiplayer mode that supports both network and online play. There is also a tutorial mode that will walk you through the game's basic concepts. As with previous games in the Command & Conquer series, there are two campaigns, one for the GDI and one for The Brotherhood of Nod. The tutorial advises that you play through the GDI campaign first and it's definitely wise to do so, as it builds on what you will have learned in the tutorial with the difficulty increasing at a steady and gradual pace. The Skirmish mode essentially allows you to practice your technique in preparation for the online mode. There are four AI difficulty settings and five different AI personalities (Balanced, Rusher, Turtle, Guerrilla and Brutal) to play against. The Skirmish features a nice collection of maps that cater for two to eight players. You can choose to handicap players if you wish and also have random crates (that contain useful bonuses) appear on the map. Online play allows for ranked and unranked games. There is support for clans and thanks to the BattleCast feature you can broadcast your game for others to watch, as well as watch others playing their games.
The game is loaded with content then but whilst that is always good to see, it's not what makes Command & Conquer 3 a great RTS. From the very first mission in the GDI campaign, the game just feels right and manages to capture the spirit of the Command & Conquer series. The interface feels modern and yet familiar. All three factions/races feel well balanced and are enjoyable to use. There's a lot of variety in the missions and you never get the feeling that you're doing the same old things over and over again. There are plenty of secondary objectives to make things interesting and they add an incentive to return to missions you might have completed once but didn't manage to complete all of the optional tasks. The addition of the Scrin is a welcome one as they not only look very different to the GDI and NOD but they also play quite differently too. The battles are as intense and as enjoyable as ever thanks to the units being well balanced. The AI also seems pretty good and on the higher difficulty levels you'll really need to be on your game if you're to succeed.
Running Command & Conquer 3 at its highest graphical settings is going to require a very well specified PC. We couldn't run the game at full details without experiencing some major frame rate problems and in the end we decided we could either tone down some of the settings or drop down to a lower screen resolution in order to achieve an acceptable frame rate. With the game running at the highest settings the whole thing looks great. Sure it's not exactly a big improvement from any of the other RTS games that have been released over the last year or so, and there are some better looking RTS games out there, but given how taxing 3D RTS can be on current PC hardware this is hardly surprising. The unit design and animations are impressive though. There are some great blur, smoke, lighting and explosion effects in the game and seeing a large battle in action has to be one of the most satisfying sights I've seen in a RTS for a long time.
I wish I could say that Command & Conquer 3 was fine for deaf gamers but in truth it's not ideal. As we've just mentioned, the game features some impressive FMV clips. Disappointingly though, these clips aren't subtitled meaning you'll miss out on all of the dialogue that ties the missions together. You can skip them if you wish but it's disappointing that deaf gamers aren't getting the whole Command & Conquer 3 experience. During the missions you'll get reports of what's going on and what needs to be done. These aren't subtitled, although you do get text instructions should there be any objectives added. Comments from your units are not subtitled. Even the tutorial has quite a lot of verbal content that's not subtitled making it more or less useless for deaf gamers. The game has extensive support for voice communications which could make things tricky whilst playing online games. BattleCast broadcasts can have commentary added to them which deaf gamers will be unaware of. On the positive side you do have all of your objectives shown in text. You're also notified in text when objectives have been completed and when new objectives have been issued. During missions you're given intelligence reports which are shown in text and prior to a mission beginning you're given a small text summary of events although this isn't as informative as the information you'll miss in the FMV clips. In short then, it's possible for deaf gamers to be able to enjoy Command & Conquer 3 but unfortunately the experience feel a little diluted compared to the one that a hearing gamer will enjoy.
In many ways it was always going to very difficult to create a new Command & Conquer game that would live up to the fans expectations. Almost unbelievably though, Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars is probably the sequel that everyone wanted. The single-player campaigns are first class and will hold your attention from beginning to end. Lasting between 20 and 30 hours the 35+ single missions are going to keep you busy for a while and when you're done you can take on the rather good AI in the skirmish mode. Of course then you have the online play which is certainly as good as most could have hoped for. It is disappointing that deaf gamers will miss out on elements of the game and this has to be my only disappointment with what is a very impressive addition to the Command & Conquer series.
Command & Conquer 3 only disappoints in its support for deaf gamers. In every other sense the game is a superb RTS and easily one of the best in this popular series.