Command & Conquer: Generals Review

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Graphics: 9.5
Sound : 8.5
Gameplay : 8.5
Multiplayer : 9.0
Overall : 9.5
Review by A.S.

Achtung! Generals!

Massive warfare, tanks, jeeps, suicide bombers, stealth jet fighters and more... one of the best real time strategy games of all times. War Craft 3 killer? Read on.



Generals takes place in modern times in not a so far away future, featuring a world of conflict between three equally frightening foes: USA, China and the Global Liberation Army (GLA).

China is no more a communist country, but a technocrat one; where technocrat meaning a more open and evolving way of thinking, collaborating with the world in such ways that will enrich and benefit the Chinese nation.

While USA more or less is as it is today, the real candy is GLA. GLA, or the Global Liberation Army is an all-out militant group with fierce ideologies, such as absolute truths and fanatic kamikaze way of seeing things. [Personal note: Now, as an Arab I was rather offended by the way the GLA is ultimately linked to the Muslim and Arab nations (either by naming, accents and so forth) but after all, there is a balance between that and the US tolerable civilian-casualty related games]

Anyways, seeing there was no greater evil to portray, the game differs from previous Command and Conquer titles by a whole lot. Do note that this is not a sequel to either the original Tiberian story nor the Red Alert offspring. This is a whole new story and a whole new experience.



Graphics

Honestly, this is without the doubt the best looking real time strategy game ever created. For those who haven’t been following up on the eternal saga of the Generals engines, we’re talking about the Sage engine, developed in-house at EA Pacific. It uses the Westwood W3D rendering engine, the same one used in Renegades, which along with the spit shine powerful game engine under the hood, are able to deliver one of the most exiting packages ever seen on PC.

Two key elements make the new engine a real kicker: beauty and detail. The game simply is perfected graphically. For one, there is the particle systems that show you stunning waterfalls, whispering smoke, car trails, eye-candy explosions and best of all a terrific, simply outstanding nuclear bomb explosion.



Moving to 3D was a big step for the post-Westwood guys. After successfully milking whatever was left from the Voxel engine used in Red Alert 2, it was time, following WarCraft 3, to dive into the 3D realm.

Now, as I was saying, beauty is certainly one of the game's stronger points, the engine blow away its ever-lasting foe WarCraft by miles. And although the units in WarCraft 3 look more personal and detailed on closeup, Generals offers a much wider variety of units, only this time there are no water-based units, only air and land based ones.


The landscapes are very much vivid and loaded with beautiful small details that give you a much more satisfying and rewarding gaming experience. From green lush hills to the white and lonely snow fields, this game features an engine that in today’s terms simply is mind-blowing for the genre.

What makes this game even more special are the high quality textures. I cranked up the resolution to 1024x768, and not only does the game run smoothly on my machine (AthlonXP1800+, 512MB DDR and a Geforce4 Ti4200 128MB Chaintech), the details were astoundingly believable. The towns looked genuine, complete, lush and part of the overall environment, some of the landmarks in the game simply are masterpieces giving you a really un-imaginable graphical experience.

One of the noticeable milestone of the graphics engine is the physics engine. While playing the GLA, which are very fast and furious you might say, the vehicles seemingly jump over hills, bouncing just right back on their wheels, buggies spring around pretty much like they should, giving an even more realistic approach to, in my opinion, the best strategy game of the year (although its still early to tell).


Game play

All of the Command & Conquer series (even Tiberian sun) excelled gameplay wise. The first game simply redefined gaming at the time, serving all what made Dune 2 a smash hit in a new, fresh, relevant way.

Generals is no exception. The guys at EA Pacific (don’t you just hate not saying Westwood?) have done another fine job. Especially after not letting the fans down with Red Alert 2, this game play remains true to the series, with major facelife to the user interface, and new additions to the already addictive gameplay.

Interface wise, Generals clearly moves away from the traditional C&C sidebar, and implements a more WarCraft-ish one. The game now features more control space, letting the gamer concentrate on the real warfare rather than the un-needed building components.



Also, from now on you are obliged to use Workers or Builders ala Empire Earth or the likes. This is proving to be a balanced change as it presents new challenges and opportunities for multi-play games.

The game features three sides, the GLA, USA and China, continuing the C&C tradition. Each features unique and varying units and building sets. Some of the more interesting units that the game has are China’s stealth unit. It can infiltrate and take over buildings, hack (steal) money, as well as disable vehicles. USA has a more straightforward approach, with balanced tanks and a very powerful air force. They battle though ruthlessly so they can save the world (again...).

The GLA however (being the group I most identified with :P), has the most unusual units in the game, featuring suicide bombers, disguisable bomb trucks, underground 0-second transfer tunnel networks and various other 'insane’ units that make the game much more exiting.

Now, I’ve been told that you readers out there like the single player campaign experience, so I decided to give it a go. Unlike previous C&C titles, Generals does not portray the same story from different points of view, but rather creates a 3-way story that unfolds as you play all the sides.

Each side has around seven or eight missions, mission types vary from all out kill-a-ramma to stealth and dam demolition (they sure got exited about that). Other than the over-all new experience presented by the graphics engine and the game’s nature, Generals does suffer a bit from the 'been there’ sensation.



Multiplayer

The multiplayer experience in Generals is a game in itself. In my opinion, I would easily ditch the single player part of the game, just for the multiplayer part of the game. If you ever played multiplayer Red Alert 2, you know multiplayer is going to be great fun.

The action found in multi-player is simply unmentionable. Game play is quite fast paced, strategies start to amass and total war simply becomes a joyous occasion. With the unsurpassable rate of realism of the maps and their coherentness with the game units, you can easily create visual illusions to sneak attack on your opponents.

Besides the cheesy tactics that you just got to try out (like infiltrating the base and packing up your opponent nice and early, making him curse you into oblivion), you have the classic Super Weapons that reflects the C&C history. Generals does not fail. China has a powerful nuclear missile that creates of the bestlooking mushrooms ever seen in a computer game, the US with their never ending particle cannon, and the GLA, what else than a Scud Storm.

Audio

Well, nothing overwhelming, it’s simply tweaked into perfection, with the same funny and entertaining captions. Music is decent- Not much I could elaborate here, its very much into the feel of the game, less important in this case...



Conclusion

I am very much happy to announce my first ever GOLD award to this terrific real time strategy title. The game will surely be holding its ground for quite a while. Just for history’s sake, I foresee few high quality mods for this game, the engine allows it, the community adores it and I endorse it.....

Go get this game! Don’t miss out, on what is Without a shadow of doubt, a winner on all fronts.