Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars Xbox 360
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: Electronic Arts
Release Date: Out Now
It was thought for many years that it was practically impossible to have an enjoyable RTS on a console that wasn't a significantly watered down experience. Most would point to the control system as a reason for this but hardware limitations are probably one of the biggest reasons why the major consoles just haven't seen many RTS games over the last decade or so. With the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 this is no longer the case and it's possible for developers to create the RTS games they want to without having to make compromises. Of course there's still the control system to consider but The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-Earth II showed that it is possible to have a good control scheme without the use of a keyboard and mouse and Command and Conquer certainly reinforces the fact.
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 an Xbox Live mode. There is also a Boot Camp 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 Boot Camp mode 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 four players. You can choose to have random crates (that contain useful bonuses) appear on the map. Xbox Live play allows for ranked and unranked games. There are various online game types including Versus, Siege, Capture the Flag, King of the Hill and Capture and Hold. The game even supports the Xbox Live Vision camera to allow you to see the players you're competing with.
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.
Naturally with the game being on the Xbox 360 there are some differences from the PC version. The control scheme in Command & Conquer 3 is very good and it makes excellent use of the 360 controller. Once again you have a fixed crosshair in the centre of the screen and you'll move around using the left analogue stick. The right analogue stick is used to rotate the camera and also to zoom in and out (pressing it returns your viewpoint to its default position). You can select all of your units on screen by holding the left trigger and pressing the A button. If you do the same but press the A button twice you'll select your whole army. Holding down the RB button whilst you're pressing the A button allows you to select all of the same unit types on the screen whilst holding down the RB button and double tapping the A button selects every unit of the same type within your army. You can't drag a box around your units like you can on the PC version which might irk some people but in truth it's not much of a problem. You can still put your units into groups and select these groups rather quickly, which is good to see. Naturally the look of the HUD has been changed to suit the 360 controls and it works really well. What I really like is that you can build units and structures without having to select structures thanks to the Tab Bar. This means you don't have to constantly navigate back to your structures to build reinforcements. Should you need to jump back to your base you can do so with a click of the left analogue stick. Of course the 360 version also comes with an assortment or achievements. The achievements on offer range from strange negative achievements (that give you 0G) such as losing a single-player game three times in a row to the achievement known as 'Something to Write Home About' which gives you 220G for completing all of the single-player missions.
It's rather pleasing to see that the game is pretty much identical to the PC version in terms of its appearance. The units and structures all look as good as they do in the PC version and whether you're playing on a standard TV set or HD display the game looks impressive. 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 ever seen on a console RTS. There are frame rate issues when the action gets hectic which is unfortunate, although the same could be said for the PC version unless you have a high specification PC.
The PC version of Command & Conquer was that good in terms of its deaf gamer friendliness. Unfortunately, the Xbox 360 version doesn't offer any improvements in this respect. The FMV clips (of which there are around 90 minutes of in total) are once again not subtitled. The video messages you'll receive in the Boot Camp mode aren't subtitled either. However, the training officer's comments are subtitled and shown at the top of the screen in cyan-coloured text. This makes this tutorial mode more deaf gamer friendly than the PC version and will enable deaf gamers to learn the control system without having to read the manual. 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. You can recall your objectives at any time by pressing the back button. You're also notified in text when objectives have been completed and when new objectives have been issued. Comments from your units are not subtitled. 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.
If you're looking for a great RTS to play on your Xbox 360 then Command & Conquer 3 is the game to go for. The game offers a very similar experience to the PC version and plays really well. The control system is very good and feels quite natural. There have been some compromises made, there's no BattleCast feature for example and due to the nature of the control scheme it's not really possible to easily control large amounts of units as effectively as you would on the PC version, but for the most part it all works really well. In fact it's difficult to see how anyone would be able to create a better console RTS given how well things have been done with the Xbox 360 version of Command & Conquer 3.
Command & Conquer 3 is the best RTS on the Xbox 360 so far and it's going to take some beating. As with the PC version though, the support for deaf gamers leaves a lot to be desired.