COMMAND & CONQUER REMASTERED / DEVELOPER: PETROGLYPH / PUBLISHER: ELECTRONIC ARTS / PLATFORM: PC / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Originally released back in 1995 on PC, Command & Conquer was hugely popular, later getting ported to the PlayStation, Saturn and Nintendo 64. It spawned numerous sequels all with their own expansions, most of which were even better than the original. Unfortunately, after well over a decade of great games, the RTS genre continued to evolve and the C&C series was left on life support after 2010's abysmal Tiberium Alliance. A decade later, all is forgiven and we want more C&C. EA actually listened, and here we are with remasters of both Command & Conquer and Red Alert, plus their expansions The Covert Operations, Counter Strike and Aftermath.
As soon as you boot up the game, it's obvious how faithful this remaster is. Even though already installed, it takes you straight into the original skippable setup screen. Once in the game itself, graphical improvement can instantly been seen by hitting the space bar, seamlessly switching between original and remaster. The visuals don't look great by modern standards, but they are in keeping with the C&C universe. The music and sound effects both sound better than ever, and in no time you’ll be whisked off back to a time when Princess Diana was still alive and there were five whole Spice Girls.
Aside from these cosmetic changes, there are also a few tweaks to the gameplay. You are able to zoom in and out, and the build menus are much easier to navigate. Other than that, the gameplay remains unchanged for better or for worse. Ore miner AI is still as stupid as ever, there is a lack of variation in strategy and keeping specialised units apart is damn near impossible. Walls exist, but unlike the later games, having to put them down piece by piece is a real chore.
The biggest improvement over the original is that, for the first time ever, the first game in the series has a skirmish mode (historically, this was not introduced until Red Alert). Slightly more impressive is that they’ve also added smack talk from the AI in this mode. “Do you want a bullet sandwich?” and “My AI is better than your AI” are just some of fighting talk that it’ll throw your way. At first it just gets laughed off, but after 20 minutes of harassing your harvesters it begins utterly offending every bone in your body. Most important of all though, the game now supports online. The internet was barely a thing when this first came out, so being able to finally play against a friend without having to haul your PC round to their house (even though LAN is awesome) is pretty rad.
Outside of the gameplay, the infamous video sequences from the story are a much higher resolution than the original. Unfortunately, they are still pretty blurry on a large monitor. Opting for something like the Night Trap remaster's technique of putting the video inside an in-game CRT TV would have been preferable.
If you've never played these games before, this probably isn't the package for you. The developers have tried to stay true to the original, making some quality of life improvements but without changing the flawed gameplay. The sequels are much better, and that will surely be a more sought-after package if it comes about. If you loved the originals though, this remaster is perfect, and a shining example of how to recreate a piece of history while keeping the original intact.