Command & Conquer
Command & Conquer
The series logo in Command & Conquer 4
Developers Westwood Studios (1995-2003)
EA Los Angeles (2003-2010)
EA Victory Games (2010- )
Publishers Electronic Arts Platforms Apple Macintosh, Nintendo 64, PlayStation, PC (MS-DOS, Windows), Sega Saturn, PlayStation Portable, Mac OS X, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 First release Command & Conquer
Latest release Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight
Official website www.commandandconquer.com
Command & Conquer (often abbreviated as C&C or CnC) is a video game franchise, mostly of the real-time strategy style as well as a first-person shooter game based on the former. The Command & Conquer series was initially developed by Westwood Studios between 1995 and 2003, with development being taken over by Electronic Arts with the liquidation of Westwood Studios in 2003.
The first installment of the series was released worldwide on August 31, 1995 and was named Command & Conquer with the subtitle of Tiberian Dawn. It was based on Westwood Studios' earlier strategy game Dune 2. The series was originally marketed to an Anglophone audience, though many of the games have been translated into other languages including Russian, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese. The series is primarily developed for personal computers running Microsoft Windows, although some titles have been ported to various video game consoles and the Apple Macintosh. The later games of the series starting with Tiberium Wars have also been developed in parallel for Xbox 360. Another spin-off game, Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, was developed for PC/Mac, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3.
In 1999, American game marketer and developer Electronic Arts purchased Westwood Studios. Westwood was eventually closed down in 2003 and absorbed into EA Los Angeles which has become the current development center for the ongoing Command and Conquer series. Some of the original Westwood developer team remained at EA Los Angeles, but most left to form Petroglyph Games.
As of July 2010, the Command & Conquer franchise consists of eleven games and eight expansion packs with sales of more than 30 million units worldwide and EA has confirmed that a new game is in the earliest stages of development.
Common gameplay elements
The Command & Conquer games belong to the real-time strategy genre, with the exception of the first person shooter Command & Conquer: Renegade. A staple of the series is the parallel campaigns of various different factions to one central storyline. Games in the series also offered multiplayer game options, via LAN and modem connection. All games in the series have also offered online play.
All Command & Conquer real-time strategy games except Command & Conquer: Generals and its expansions have featured the "side bar" for navigation and control as opposed to many other similar games where the control bar is located on the bottom of the screen.
Command & Conquer gameplay typically requires the player to construct a base and acquire resources, in order to fund the ongoing production of various types of forces with which to assault and conquer the opponent's base. All available structures of the faction chosen by the player are constructed on-site at so-called "construction yard" - which typically begin as large-sized vehicles capable of deploying themselves into the aforementioned construction yards. When a construction yard has finished building a new structure, the player can select a spot near to a preexisting structure in order to place it, where the prefabricated building will then rapidly unfold in a distinctive manner.
In all games in the series except Command & Conquer: Generals and its expansion, Zero Hour, funds are acquired by specialized "harvester" units which bring their cargo (Tiberium for the Tiberian series of games or ore or the more valuable gems for the Red Alert series) to a "refinery" structure. This in turn will convert the raw material into usable resources, expressed as credits. The raw materials themselves, in games released before Red Alert 2, require storage space in the form of refineries and, in the case of excess, "storage silo" structures.
All factions have structures and units with similar functions at their disposal. However, they are adjusted to fit each faction's theme and have somewhat varying properties. Units can be classified into infantry, vehicles, and aircraft, each with their own subdivisions (note: in the Red Alert series there is also naval craft available). Unit effectiveness against opponents follows the rock-paper-scissors (intransitivity) principle found in most real-time strategy games.
Virtually every type of structure in the series acts as a tech tree node, and additional units, structures and faction-specific abilities will become available as new structures are built and placed. Access to advanced units and abilities may be temporarily blocked if the required structures are destroyed or if they are not being provided with adequate power by the supporting "power plant" structures.
Each Command & Conquer game has included the ability to play multiplayer games against other humans. Each box of Command & Conquer contains two CD copies of the game, immediately making multiplayer gaming possible with a single purchase of the game. Westwood Studios advertised this on the packaging with the slogan "A second copy, so you and your friend can destroy each other." This resulted in Command & Conquer becoming the first RTS game title to feature competitive online play, and this is considered the most pertinent outside factor in the success of Command & Conquer. All games in the series up to Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 also featured two CDs that could be used for this reason. However, later games did not.
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 was noted for being the first RTS game to enable the campaigns to be played cooperatively online; others had only supported single player campaigns. However, it was only possible to connect to other computers through EA's servers and not with LAN play.
Games produced by Westwood use the proprietary Westwood Online system to facilitate multiplayer games over the Internet; Renegade also supported Gamespy. Games under EA's development continued to use Gamespy, but dropped support for Westwood Online in favor of using EA's own servers.
Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn, released on August 31, 1995, was the first game in the series and is widely considered as the title which originally defined and popularized the real-time strategy genre. Command & Conquer introduced the warring factions of the Global Defense Initiative (GDI) and the Brotherhood of Nod. Command & Conquer was well received and was widely praised by critics: "Command & Conquer is one of the finest, most brilliantly-designed computer games I have ever seen" said GameSpot reviewer Chris Hudak. Command & Conquer has attained 94% as an aggregate score from Metacritic with the less well received Covert Operations expansion pack obtaining an aggregate score of 72% after its 1996 release.
Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun, released August 27, 1999, takes place approximately 30 years after the events in its predecessor. While the original Command & Conquer's plot was centered around an allegorical world politics setting, Tiberian Sun shifted this to a more sci-fi-like setting against the apocalyptic background of Tiberium beginning to assimilate vast portions of the Earth's ecosystems. In 1998, Westwood Studios, the developers of Tiberian Sun, was acquired by Electronic Arts. However, EA had no direct part in the development of the title. Compared to its predecessor, Tiberian Sun relies heavily on science fiction technologies and introduces a new isometric game engine featuring varying level terrain to give the impression of a true 3D environment.
The full motion video is also scripted differently; while the cutscenes of Command & Conquer and Red Alert were filmed from a first-person perspective, Tiberian Sun used traditional cinematic shots for its FMVs featuring well known Hollywood actors such as James Earl Jones of the original Star Wars trilogy and Michael Biehn of Terminator and Aliens.
Tiberian Sun was not as well received as Command & Conquer with an aggregate score of 80% and 73% for the title and its expansion pack, Command & Conquer Tiberian Sun: Firestorm, respectively. However the solid storyline, new concepts, more realistic graphics, atmospheric soundtrack and traditional gameplay were praised by critics, making up for its weaknesses.
Command & Conquer: Renegade, released February 26, 2002, takes place in the final days of the events of Command & Conquer and was the last Command & Conquer game to be created by Westwood Studios before their liquidation in 2003. Unlike any other games in the series, Renegade is a first person shooter giving players their only chance to see the Command & Conquer universe from a first person perspective. Although receiving average reviews, with an aggregate score of 75% on both Game Rankings and Metacritic, Renegade was praised for its online features: GameSpy awarded Renegade its 2002 "Wish it had been better" award, condemning the single player but saying that "C&C: Renegade's multiplayer was innovative and fun". Online play was praised for encouraging teamwork and coordinated assaults, unlike other contemporary first-person shooters.
Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars, released March 29, 2007, was a return to the real-time strategy roots of the Command & Conquer series. As a direct sequel to Tiberian Sun, Tiberium Wars is set approximately 17 years after the events of Tiberian Sun and features the introduction of a third faction, the Scrin. The sequel was highly anticipated by fans and critics alike and attained an aggregate score of 85% from both Game Rankings and Metacritic. PC Gamer U.S. gave the game its "Editor's Choice" rating at 90%, stating that "One of the greatest RTS franchises of all time returns to glory", while PC Gamer UK gave it a more reserved rating of 82%, stating that it was "A welcome, but limited, return."
Shortly after the release of Tiberian Wars, the expansion pack Command & Conquer 3: Kane's Wrath was announced. Released on March 24, 2008, Kane's Wrath limited the player to only the Brotherhood of Nod in the campaign mode, though the original factions and six new sub-factions are available for the new strategic mode and skirmish mode. Reception was mainly positive with the expansion attaining an aggregate score of 77%.
Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight, released on March 16, 2010, sees a big change in gameplay from the previous Command & Conquer by removing the resource gathering and base building elements in previous games as well as the removal of the third faction, the Scrin. It is a direct sequel to Kane's Wrath (however not directly following on from its storyline), and is set 10 years after the game's final events, a time when Tiberium has advanced to its next evolutionary stage, and is rapidly spreading across Earth making it soon to be uninhabitable. The only positive comments are aimed at the multiplayer mode. Main criticisms were the problematic control scheme, the departure from the traditional Command and Conquer basics, the fact that the game seemed more adapted for multiplayer rather than solo play, the short campaign with a negatively criticized campaign ending and the troublesome unlock system.
Red Alert series
Command & Conquer: Red Alert, released on October 31, 1996, is set in an alternate universe 1950s and was originally made to be the prequel to Command & Conquer establishing Red Alert as the prologue of the entire Tiberium series of games. Since then Louis Castle has said that connecting Red Alert with the Tiberium series was a "failed experiment". Red Alert introduces the Allies and the Soviets as rival factions roughly analogous to NATO and the Warsaw Pact of the Cold War. The game was received well by critics and has the highest average score of any Command & Conquer game with an average of over 90% from Game Rankings and Metacritic, unlike the title's two expansion packs, Red Alert: Counterstrike and Red Alert: The Aftermath of which both received below average reviews for the series with 63% and 70% average scores respectively. Before being re-released as freeware on 31 August 2008 by Electronic Arts Command & Conquer: Red Alert had sold over three million copies.
With the release of Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 on October 23, 2000, and that game's lack of reference to the Tiberian series, the connection established in the first Red Alert game became unclear. Opinion on whether or not the time travel events of the series were forming a separate continuity or just another side adventure on the way to the Tiberian era was divided. However, it has been implied by the original creators of the series, now working at Petroglyph Games, that Red Alert 2 takes place in a parallel universe that came about as a result of time travel experiments taking place some time into the Tiberian series. Red Alert 2 was again received fairly positively with an aggregate score of 86% from Game Rankings.
An expansion pack to Red Alert 2, Command & Conquer: Yuri's Revenge was released on October 10, 2001 to mostly positive reviews. GameRankings reports an average score of 85% based on 31 reviews, making Yuri's Revenge the best received expansion pack in the entire Command & Conquer series.
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, released on October 28, 2008, was a continuation of the story of Red Alert 2, however the title continued the series' more "light-hearted" take on Command & Conquer. Red Alert 2 featured a Soviet invasion of North America with tanks, conscripts, gargantuan airships, and psychically dominated anti-ship giant squids; its expansion, Yuri's Revenge, escalated matters up to UFOs and communists on the Moon. Executive producer Chris Corry stated in a pre-release interview that Red Alert 3 will further differentiate the playable factions from each other and "[play] up the silliness in their faction design whenever possible." This approach was seen as popular with Red Alert 3 obtaining an aggregate score of 82% from Metacritic. A stand alone expansion to Red Alert 3, Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 – Uprising was released on March 12, 2009 to fairly poor reviews for the series with an average score of 64% from Metacritic. Another downloadable standalone game for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 was released known as Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 - Commander's Challenge which contained the Commander's Challenge mode of Uprising for consoles.
Command & Conquer: Red Alert (iOS) was released on October 16, 2009 for the iOS which was a continuation of the story of Red Alert 2 and takes place before Red Alert 3. It contained two factions the Allies and Soviet Union with a third faction, the Empire of the Rising Sun, to be added in its expansion pack. The game itself takes place between Red Alert 2 and Red Alert 3.
Command & Conquer: Generals, released on February 10, 2003, had a plotline which was completely unrelated to the other games of the Command & Conquer series. Generals is set in the near future and features the United States, China and the fictional terrorist organization, the Global Liberation Army. After its release, Generals received mostly positive reviews. Based on 34 reviews, Metacritic gives it a score of 84/100 which includes a score of 9.3/10 from IGN. Generals has also received the E3 2002 Game Critics Awards Best Strategy Game award. One review noted that Generals was the first ever Command & Conquer real-time strategy game that did not include full-motion video cutscenes to tell the story and that it departed from the unique interface and base-building mechanics that had characterized all of the previous C&C RTS titles. Generals uses an engine dubbed "SAGE" (or Strategy Action Game Engine) and is the first fully three-dimensional Command & Conquer real-time strategy game.
An expansion for Generals, Command & Conquer: Generals – Zero Hour, was released on September 22, 2003 to further the Generals storyline. Unlike Generals, Zero Hour featured the return of full motion videos to the series. Zero Hour obtained much the same reception as Generals with an aggregate score of 85% and 84% from Game Rankings and Metacritic respectively.
EALA, the producer of Command & Conquer games since 2003 is now defunct. EA Games has announced its newest subsidiary Victory Games will be making the next Command & Conquer video game, which will be announced by the end of 2011.
- Westwood Studios (1995–2002)
- 1995 – Command & Conquer
- 1996 – Command & Conquer – The Covert Operations
- 1996 – Command & Conquer: Red Alert
- 1997 – Command & Conquer: Red Alert – Counterstrike
- 1997 – Command & Conquer: Red Alert – The Aftermath
- 1998 – Command & Conquer: Red Alert – Retaliation
- 1997 – Command & Conquer: Sole Survivor
- 1999 – Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun
- 2000 – Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun – Firestorm
- 2002 – Command & Conquer: Renegade
- EA Pacific (a.k.a. Westwood Pacific) (2000–2003)
- 2003 – Command & Conquer: Generals
- EA Los Angeles (2003—2010)
- 2003 – Command & Conquer: Generals – Zero Hour
- 2009 – Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 – Uprising
Much of the music for the series was composed and produced by Westwood Studios' former sound director and video game music composer Frank Klepacki for the early games, with composition duties being taken on by several others following the liquidation of Westwood Studios in 2003. Klepacki returned to the series in 2008 however to assist with the soundtrack for Red Alert 3.
The music has been received positively by critics, although praise was higher with earlier entries.
The original score for Command & Conquer: Red Alert was composed by Frank Klepacki and was voted the best video game soundtrack of 1996 by PC Gamer and Gameslice magazines. Among his most famous songs from the series is the theme of Red Alert, titled "Hell March", which accents the style of the game with adrenalized riffs of electric guitar, the sounds of marching feet, and synthesizers to a dramatic chant. Originally intended to be the theme for the Brotherhood of Nod faction in the Covert Operations expansion to the original 1995 Command & Conquer game, the track eventually ended up enlisting itself as a staple in the Red Alert series instead, and a second version of "Hell March" was specifically created for Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2.After C&C came out we wasted no time kicking out Covert Ops. I wrote some more ambient style themes they asked me for, and then I began tinkering with this heavy metal song that I was trying to gear towards Nod for the next big C&C game. Brett Sperry came in my office and said "You got anything I can hear for the new C&C?" I played it for him. He said "What's the name of this one?" I said "Hell March." He said "That's the signature song for our next game."
Reception and legacy
The Command & Conquer series has been a commercial success with over 30 million Command & Conquer games sold as of 2009. Games in the series have nearly consistently scored highly on video game review aggregator websites Game Rankings and Metacritic, which collect data from numerous review websites. As noted in the table to the right, the highest rated game is Command & Conquer with a score of 94% from Metacritic. The highest rated game averaged over both sites is Command & Conquer: Red Alert with an average of just over 90%. As a series, Command & Conquer games have averaged approximately 80% when including expansion packs and approximately 84% without.
Command & Conquer's long history resulted in Guinness World Records awarding the series 6 world records in the Guinness World Records: Gamer's Edition 2008. These records include "Biggest Selling RTS Series", "Most Number of Platforms for an RTS", and "Longest Running Actor in Video Game Role" for Joe Kucan, who has played the part of Kane, the villainous mastermind of the series, for 15 years.
- ^ Command & Conquer (PSP) at IGN
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- ^ The Armchair Empire - PC Reviews: Command and Conquer - Generals Score: 7.9 / 10 - Omni (June 8, 2003)
- ^ "EA Starts New Strategy Studio: Victory Games" Interview , Posted 24 Feb 2011
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- ^ "Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3". Game Rankings. http://www.gamerankings.com/pc/944928-command-and-conquer-red-alert-3/index.html. Retrieved 2009-08-08.
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- C&C franchise website
- Westwood FTP site
- Command and Conquer Strategy Wiki
- Command and Conquer Wiki, an external wiki
- Command & Conquer at the Open Directory Project
- CNCNZ - international CnC Site
- CnCSaga - international CnC Site
Command & Conquer Video gamesMain universeSpin-offs Tiberian series Red Alert series Other
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