When you mention the phrase ‘Real Time Strategy’ the Command and Conquer series is always the first game that comes to mind. In the past their games have gone through hot and cold patches with games like Red Alert 2 taking the PC world by storm and then stumbling with titles such as C&C: Generals. The latest incarnation entitled Command and Conquer 3: The Tiberium Wars is definitely in the hot category and once again PC gamers across the globe were on cloud nine creating stealth tanks and destroying their various foes on and offline. EA knew the success this game would reap and decided to also release it on the Xbox 360 and here we are, with my controller in one hand and this keyboard in the other. EA have already done themselves proud with an RTS title on the 360, in the form of Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth and so they are attempting to recreate the same success but with Tiberium Wars instead.
Tiberium Wars once again sees you, the player, thrown into the middle of the global war between the evil NOD led by Kane and the good guys, GDI, in the year 2047. Once again NOD are planning to take control of the world (like they haven’t tried that before) and the GDI are the only people stopping them. The reason behind this latest global struggle is the deadly resource Tiberium, which has spread across the globe making parts of the Earth un-inhabitable. The fight then begins when the NOD decide to destroy the Space Station Philadelphia and start transporting WMD’s across the globe.
So begins the Campaign mode and at first you will only be able to use the boys in blue, the GDI. The first four or five missions, even on hard, are a breeze and basically nothing more than an advanced tutorial. Once you get past those initial few missions the game truly begins and even on Easy the game at times can be unbearably hard. Although initially a bad thing, once I completed a select few missions (some admittedly I had to tone down to Medium from Hard) the sense of achievement was overwhelming.
Once you get past mission four or five you unlock the NOD campaign and the same goes for the all new Scrin campaign. In total there are 5 different acts in the NOD and GDI campaigns both consisting of 17 missions each (that’s including the prologue too), then there’s four additional missions where you get the chance to use the new alien faction, the Scrin. So with 28 missions in all, the game will last you a good few weeks, especially if you up the difficulty to Hard (which I must say is definitely a good idea).
The missions themselves at first will only give you a handful of units and as you progress more vehicles and buildings will be given to you. You also get a helping hand in the form of a narrator who trys to give you a push in the right direction. It must be said though that this helping hand can often send you in quite the wrong direction, you can sometimes follow his orders to perfection and yet end up being massacred.
One problem with the campaign is that the opposition simply never stop – they constantly send endless numbers of units and it just gets annoying after a while. In some levels you find yourself completely suppressed by the enemy and discover that even building a defence is nigh on impossible. On the whole the campaign is very pleasing experience and definitely worth a run through.
Let us not forget the games cut scenes which include Bill Dee Williams who played Lando Calrissian in the Star Wars films, Michael Ironside who you may notice is behind the voice of our very own Sam Fisher as well as Josh Holloway, the redneck from Lost, Jennifer Morrison from House and for any Battlestar Gallactica fans Tricia Helfer also makes an appearance. As you can see the cast is pretty diverse and they all play their various parts to perfection making the cut-scenes entertaining.
The three separate factions in the game all have their own tactical capabilities. For example GDI are mainly for those who simply chuck tens of hundreds of tanks at their opponents. Vehicles such as the Mammoth tanks are unstoppable in large numbers. The NOD are for the more sly player as they use Stealth on their infantry, tanks and aircraft. That’s not to say they don’t have powerful units, the Avatar in great numbers can be simply formidable. The Scrin are more for those who like air superiority. Although they have a good number of ground units they are all weak and only good in large numbers. Despite being weak on the ground it’s very hard to stop the Scrin once they get airborne. All three are good and bad in different areas and despite the GDI being the rookie’s main choice, if you can master the NOD and Scrin you will be quite the force online. Strategy is key and it’s the one reason this game is so addictive.
The units themselves are very diverse, as you would expect from any C&C game. You can create riflemen, missile soldiers, grenadiers, zonetroopers, shadow teams and the strongest of the ground troops is without doubt Commandos. You can only build one of these guys and they have simply jaw dropping firepower not to mention the ability to destroy buildings with a detonation charge. They are the equivalent of a modern day Tania. The vehicles include Pitbulls, Scorpion tanks, Buzzers and Predators. Then there’s the more advanced Mammoth tanks, stealth’s, Scrin Masterminds and the War of the Worlds esque Tripods. Let us not forget the aircraft and the list of buildings which is just as varied as the other units.
The only problem with this mixed bag of units is the fact that they are very easy to unlock in-game. In previous C&C games it would take at least ten minutes if not more to unlock such things as the Apocalypse and Mammoth tanks. The thing is in Tiberium Wars you can unlock every single unit within two or three minutes. The same is said for the super weapons which again can be bought within the first 60 seconds if you make the correct buildings. I simply think the game would have faired better if they made the build times a bit longer, or maybe made unlocking certain vehicles that little bit more difficult.
The control scheme is very similar to Battle for Middle Earth. Most of your actions are done via the two triggers and simply scrolling using your analogue sticks. If you go through the game’s tutorial mode you will get the jist of it within minutes. Selecting units is pretty easy – you can either press the left trigger and A to select everything on screen or double tap the trigger to get every unit you have created. You can also keep your finger on A and scroll across any units you want to use. Sadly trying to select one unit at a time is a chore to say the least, this is worst seen when trying to find an engineer in the middle of your infantry. Sadly engineers aren’t selected when using the left trigger so you have to manually click on them and the cursor is far too sensitive. The controller setup is very easy to follow and very well laid out in parts, but of course it will never beat a keyboard. I only wish they made games such as this compatible with a keyboard, hopefully that will change in the future.
Graphically the game is extremely nice and far surpasses that of Battle for Middle Earth. Even on full zoom each unit looks stunning. From zonetroopers to stealth tanks it just looks unbelievably good. The various game effects like stealth are also beautifully shown on this game as is the glowing Tiberium, the Orca jets and the various projectiles fired from the games multiple units. Lag is non-existent, it is still present but only when the entire screen is full of warring factions and even then the game still looks sublime. The maps are also very nicely done. It is a shame that, like Lord of the Rings, they are a tad small, but even so they still look simply superb.
Of course we have saved the best until last, that being Xbox Live. Tiberium Wars supports up to 4 player games over LIVE. It also supports a variety of modes including your bog standard versus, siege (basically versus but no one can attack for a set time), King of the Hill, Capture the Flag and Capture and Hold. Siege is a great online addition as it stops people simply steam rolling over their opponents in the first 2 minutes. What’s more, the games online is much like off-line with the only experiences of lag when the screen is filled up with units from top to bottom, let to right which very rarely happens. The online experience alone is reason enough to buy this game.
On the whole this game is another RTS success. Battle for Middle Earth was a great game but Tiberium Wars simply betters it and is a must for any RTS or C&C fan. The campaign mode can be rigorous at times but the sense of achievement you get after completing the story mode is inexplicable. Online as said beforehand is reason enough to purchase this game and further increases the titles lastability. The games control scheme still contains flaws but it’s useable nonetheless. Online and offline, campaign and skirmish this game is truly amazing and a must buy for anyone who can’t get this title on the PC.
Originally Written By: Lee Matthews