This year 1995 and I sat in front of our Packard Bell computer trying to learn the ins and outs of this new game that my father was crazy about. If you know at least one thing about me, my love of strategy games comes directly from watching my father on the computer for hours. I will pull a chair and watch it build empires and destroy virtual enemies. My father’s latest obsession is the latest installment in real-time strategy: Command & Conquer. For years after the initial release, we desperately Command & Conquer fan. It spoke to us on a personal level, besides entertaining, when we grew up in a military background. Being a soldier, my father always encouraged me at a young age to explore strategic games and often guided me when I played Command & Conquer. Back in 1995, this game became a big hit in the world of RTS and paved the way for future games in such genres Royal era, Starcraft, Homeworld and many others. The title explores new themes such as alternative historical timelines and science fiction wars – not much cooler than building a Tesla Coil and watching them zap toward enemies before they can make your defenses weak. While today we have several more modern ones Command & Conquer titles that we can see (like the recent mobile game or the new sequel to Steam), the original still holds a lot of good replay value for newcomers and veterans.
That Remastered Collection bring both of them Command & Conquer and Command & Conquer: Red Alert with all DLC to the new generation of games after 25 years. This collection displays the same original titles as we remember, but with updated graphics, sound design, and creative options with the map maker. For development fans behind the scenes, this collection also features a bonus gallery with developer videos that can’t be opened, B-roll recordings, photos and even music tracks that haven’t been released yet. There are many things to be celebrated with this remaster, but there are some striking mistakes that feel like they should be eliminated after more than two decades. As more remasters and remakes are being developed, an important component of bringing old loved ones into the future is to modernize controls so that they grow old well. Although we still get the same great gameplay that makes this series great, there are some obstacles in modernizing the title.
It has been around twenty years since I last played this original C&C game, so it was a tremendous blast from the past to hear the opening theme of the trademark sound design and title. Boot the original title, the player is welcomed by a battle interface computer friend, EVA. Acting as the announcer for all the games, it is very pleasant to hear the voice actress EVA repeat her role to re-record her dialogue in high definition. EVA is not the only one to get audio enhancements, because original composers Frank Klepacki and Tiberian Sons also returned with remastered music. Let’s face it. Command & Conquer Don’t hit hard without the star soundtrack in the background. This new collection also features a jukebox that allows players to customize the personal soundtrack. For fans who appreciate the title in its original format, there is an option to switch the sound design back to the original, lower resolution.
Toggling sound design is not the only veteran fan option available if they revive the title in its original format. One of the coolest features offered by this collection is the ability to switch mid-game graphics by pressing the space key (for my keyboard people out there). This is an identical feature that you might remember from Halo Master Chief collection where people can switch between original graphics and remasters by pressing a button. The updated 4k graphics are very neat. This is an amazing way to experience the game, especially coming as an original release player. Deeper texture in the environment and updated model design can be seen for fan favorite units. Back in my day (say 32 years), we only had a set number of pixels to work on and that was fine. However, that means that “details” are usually difficult to distinguish. Newer graphics allow you to see the intentions behind designs that help elevate the science fiction genre known to the game. This is also good for Emergency because the sequel added a cool new toy to play. The addition of updated graphics is welcome, but it seems that the 4k resolution stops at gameplay.
In 2020, where my graphics card can easily handle some of the most powerful games out there (for example Wticher III at maximum resolution), Petroglyph developers do not feel the need to re-create their cutscene in a higher definition for the title. Are these scenes technically remastered? Yes, they are indeed more subtle than their original counterparts. However, in scenes that are not live action, the players are treated to rough graphics, charts that immediately take me back to 1995. For one minute, I lost time and space of thinking that I returned to the old PC Packard Bell. It is understandable to want to maintain the cinematic integrity of the original title, but why not also integrate switch functions like gameplay? Create star charts with development software today but also gives players the option to view scenes in their original format. One of the most powerful titles, the original component finally seems like an after-thought in this collection. The title cutscene graph isn’t the only thing that skips the remaster mark.
When re-creating titles that are decades old, the important attention to detail is to update the controls for more intuitive and modern controls. This collection does a lot of work with controls with an updated UI that is easier to navigate with hotkeys, new camera zooms, updated mouse controls, camera movement and more. One of the better things about this updated control is the ability to create quick buttons that can be adjusted for fast reactions. One of the biggest problems in the original format is having to click back and forth between units, buildings and map areas. Apart from that, I’m a fan of the queue unit in the build menu. Instead of waiting for units one by one to complete construction before new ones can be added, several can be easily queued up. It’s important to modernize these controls for a more modern gameplay of course, but you don’t see many updates when you dive deeper into gameplay mechanics. The title suffers from some old school mechanical problems that could use some sprucing up. For example, there are still no individual unit orders such as formation or patrols, which lead to only sending a jumble of mixed units on marching orders. They are still stepping with each other and preventing each other from getting where they need to be. We still can’t have units that report from their build queue to the specified waypoint – this forces the player to move between bases and the potential for battle that divides attention. You can set a motion queue that allows you to do it, but only on Emergency and not in Tiberia Dawn. There are some sophisticated mechanics seen in the sequel that were not extended to the originals. Unfortunately it makes for some gameplay that hasn’t been more than years old. Updating the mechanics will be a cherry on top of the remaster.
Remastered Command & Conquer Collection is a treasure trove of content for fans of all generations. Both titles in the collection look amazing with updated 4k graphics, sound design, and UI controls. Besides containing two full games, this truly is a collection of expansion, hundreds of campaign missions, multiplayer maps and bonus material. Players are allowed tons of creative freedom with a map editor and mod support. It would be nice to see all the creations modlers can make. Maybe this will even give the community a chance to work on a mod that improves the gameplay mechanism of the collection so lost. Although the title makes remastering of these beloved games with a new coat of paint and packed content, there are a number of missed opportunities in updating certain cinematic and gameplay mechanics. With so much additional content, the components mentioned above look like an afterthought. Despite this misstep, Command & Conquer back after decades with something for everyone. With two important RTS games in one bundle, this is a serious collection for anyone who wants to enter the series and we want to come back.
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