Command and Conquer
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"He who controls the past commands the future, He who commands the future, conquers the past."
- – Kane
Long ago, back before vanilla Dawn of War, back when Starcraft wasn't even a sketch in the minds of Blizzard, one franchise ruled above all others in the RTS genre, Westwood's Command and Conquer. And it was the golden times.
While some scholars argue Dune 2 was the first prototype of the real-time strategy genre, most fans and critics recognize Command and Conquer as the game that made the genre popular among the public.
Main series/Tiberian Universe
Follows the conflicts between the Global Defense Initiative, a military coalition formed by the United Nations, and the Brotherhood of Nod, a mysterious quasi-religious global power led by the being only known as Kane spanning nearly a century of warfare. A key element of the series is Tiberium, an alien substance which is slowly xenoforming the Earth, destroying the ecosystem but also giving mankind unique industrial and scientific possibilities.
The games of the series:
- Tiberian Dawn: Where it all started, Earth is still widely similar to our own, this game features what may become the standard for the industry. The graphics and gameplay mechanisms were then made into Red Alert 1 with some polish.
- The Covert Operations: more missions! And hard as fuck.
- Sole Survivor: Just don't, I mean, seriously?! You control only one unit?! If i wanted to play a MOBA I would, well I would dig my eyes out with a melon baller but you get the point!
- Renegade: a FPS/TPS hybrid featuring Nick "Havoc" Parker, a trigger happy GDI commando.
- Tiberian Sun: 40 Years after Tiberian Dawn, the world has turned to a Grimdark cyberpunk heavy setting, with entire continents slowly transforming into hellscapes because of Tiberium. Mutants, cyborgs and futuristic weapons such as mechs, lasers and hover technology are a plenty. It has arguably some of the best cutscenes and scenarios of the series. Uniquely for the series, it has the commanders of GDI and Nod as characters, not the player in front of his computer screen. Again, the game engine is different with isometric landscapes, heights and experiments in 3d modeling with voxels, which was then polished further and used in Red Alert 2. HAD THE WORST SOUNDTRACKS EVER.
- Firestorm: CABAL, the supercomputer of the Brotherhood of Nod, goes rogue, attempting to turn everyone into cyborgs to accomplish Kane's master plan. Included new scenarios, more options and units.
- Tiberium Wars: Combining the the cyberpunk style with 20-minutes-in-the future of your Dale Brown novels, it introduces the Scrin, the alien empire that seeded the world with Tiberium for its mining operations. Also does a solid job modernizing the classic gameplay while making both GDI and Nod awesome-looking, and even more powerful with technology upgrades on the battlefield like Blizzard games. Completely 3D graphics engine and reasonable system requirements made it wildly popular.
- Kane's Wrath: This expansion centers on everyone's favourite dark messiah, and also adds new units and abilities to all factions. In terms of narrative and plot twists it's one of the most elaborate episodes of the Tiberian saga.
- Tiberian Twilight: Awful plot inconsistencies and over-exhaustion of the brand combined with significant gameplay changes (e.g. the game is basically a horrid Dawn of War/Company of Heroes ripoff, with capturing points instead of mining Tiberium) made this a huge disappointment, it was later revealed that what the fans bought was originally going to be a free-to-play MMO real tactical game for the weaboo market. Believed by the fandom to have killed the series.
- Tiberium Alliances: It's a browser RTS. That should tell you all you need to know. The only redeeming factor is that it has a unique playstyle(No mathematical slugfests but actual base layout and design which need tactics to overcome), and isn't an Evony clone with skimpy female generals. Basically GDI and NOD are in a circular world fighting their way through scrap bases built by Forgotten (with 100% Orky designs) from outermost ring to the innermost Forgotten city built by Athos, a mutant leader. Needs inhuman scale of teamwork to disable the city's shields for assault to retrieve the Tacitus.
- Rivals: A mobile game where two groups fight for command of a central point; conquering it lets you level your opponent's base in two blows. Uses a CGI Kane instead of rehiring Joseph D. Kucan, which is both a blessing and another mockery of the franchise. If Tiberium Twilight killed C&C, then Rivals is tantamount to necrophilia.
Red Alert series
Originally considered a prequel but ultimately earning its own continuity it starts with Albert Einstein creating a time machine to go back to the 1920s and erase Hitler from history. This ends not as planned because instead it was the Soviet Union under Stalin who end up causing WWII. Red Alert follows the battle between the Soviet Union and the Allies during a series of World Wars where every faction seems to deploy increasingly batshit insane wacky technology. The franchise consists of three games and its expansions, the two later add a new faction, first Yuri, a rogue Soviet psyker who attempts to mind-control the entire planet and has a badass army of flying saucers, hulk-like soldiers, virus snipers, grinders that recycle mind-controlled people into natural resources, and some other nasty grimdark stuff, and the second features the Empire of the Rising Sun, a God-Emperor-worshipping Technology Cult which adds transforming mechas, a psionic schoolgirl and beam-katanas, yes, Red Alert is
that weird what you may expect from an elegan/tg/entlenman production. Essentially Noblebright to Tiberium's Grimdark.
The games of the series
- Red Alert: After messing up with time, Einstein leaves the stage open for Joseph Stalin to try to conquer Europe, the rest is history. Gameplay-wise is the same as Tiberium Dawn, with a very serious outlook upon the course of the war as the early installation. Allied victory canonically leads to Red Alert 2, while Soviet victory belongs to Tiberium timeline.
- Counter-Strike: More missions! (yeah, back in that time it was the best thing you could expect from an expansion).
- Aftermath: More missions and more units. Westwood started loosening up the military blandness of real life and added experimental weapons like RC nuke trucks, teleporting Chrono tanks, tesla troopers/tanks, earthquake making M.A.D tanks, cyberdog Chitzkoi and its cyborg handler Volkov.
- Red Alert 2: The Soviets rebuild under a puppet leader who decides to come back and invade the United States after disabling its nukes, and did we mention the Russians are backed up by the Cubans, the Libyans and the Iraqis? Prism technology, desolator troops to irradiate whole areas with nuclear power, tesla tanks, chronospheres, weather control devices and iron curtain shields are used in this war as standard weaponry. On a side note, this is where Red Alert stopped being "serious" and started getting campy.
- Yuri's Revenge: Creepy former adviser of Soviet premier Romanov (yes, we know that was the Tsar surname), Yuri has been using the Soviet invasion onslaught as a distraction to build a network of psychic dominator devices to mind-control the whole planet. Unfortunately for him and thankfully for everyone else the Allies travel back in time in order to topple him (and you though Orikan the Diviner was cheating hard), ensuring a temporal alliance between the Soviets and the Allies to crush him. More time travel and mind control silliness ensues, including gunning down T-Rex in 60M BC and sending a Soviet MCV to the moon to colonize and fight Yuri.
- Red Alert 3: The Soviets decide to attempt the time travel trick themselves and they actually succeed at killing Einstein. Somehow this turned Japan into the Empire of the Rising Sun, complete with nanolathing technology, laser beams, extreme miniaturization and artistic weaponry from the future. By this point, and with the inclusion of Japan, you know this has gone completely bonkers, as well as compensating the lack of gameplay quality with shameless fanservice in shape of unrealistic female military officers like a cheap Chinese mobile online strategy game. Gameplay turned out to be a double-edged sword: EA Games surprisingly made attempts to balance the factions and every unit has a secondary ability that does work quite well in synergy, in theory... Yet the insane building/unit speed, pace (which is quite understandable, considering up until the Tiberian Wars harvesters took HOURS to deliver a paltry sum for a tank(that includes Red Alert 2)) of the game along with the light-speed multitasking AI were all very poorly received by players used to Red Alert 2, and gave the players no time to micromanage the abilities but slap some rudimentary line of defence and hope for the best versus swarms of attackers like Tyranids on crack.
- Uprising: Singleplayer only. More units, a campaign involving an angsty psionic schoolgirl who was subjected to human experimentation, and a a complete disregard for balance in the form of units such as the Empire's Gigafortress and the Allied Harbinger Gunship, a nuclear-powered AC-130 with no build limit. The main campaigns were pretty boring though, being way too short, with a bare bones story with very little of the humour that had characterized the series as well as "Artifical Difficulty", a.k.a "I-fucked-up-the-single-player-and-i-must-pregenerate-enemies-to-look-like-it-is-a-hard-game" syndrome.
The more realistic branch of the series. The
Islamic State Global Liberation Army ravages the Mideast in order to achieve their shadowy agenda, while the United States of America and China join forces to show the evil terrorists they can't mess around with the new world order. In retrospect it had the misfortune to be released right as the above plot was growing too similar to real world events (GLA invading Europe using hordes of African/Muslim immigrants and their cargo routes as reinforcements), which meant it wasn't nearly as popular as its cousins. On the flip-side, it has grown in popularity over time especially as fans came to appreciate games for what they were, and mods turned it into a seriously crazy remake, such as Shockwave, Contra and Rise of the Reds.
The games of the series:
- Generals: You got your three factions, modern USA, communist China, and Central Asian-Middle Eastern
Islamic StateGlobal Liberation Army, great variety of tactics, fun missions, sadly it lacked the awesome cutscenes of the Tiberian and Red Alert series and barely explains where the GLA came from. From a gameplay perspective this one stands out the most apart from the rest of Command and Conquer. Resources are gathered from fixed points on the map plus capturable oil derricks and renewable supply sources buildable by each side. The game heavily borrows from Blizzard's War/Starcraft's production methods in form of builder units and field research upgrades per battle. The combat is quite physics engine-oriented though, as projectiles can be dodged, avoided, shot at and blocked, creating a replayable, modern RTS with a quasi-real scenario.
- Zero Hour: All sides get new subfactions(albeit badly implemented-crippling overspecialization-), more units, and missions! Also cutscenes! It also brought a challenge mode where you fights against the generals of each faction a la Street Fighter (ergo the name of the game mode). Now United States can focus either on next-gen laser-heavy weaponry, airforce or stationary(Turtling) technical gimmicks. China counters with either a Tank-only general, Nuke-crazy one, and an Infantry focused one. GLA ups the ante with either stealth-spamming ethnically ambigious Prince Kassad, stereotypical suicide unit focused Rodall Juhziz (whose name makes no sense in Arabic but every unit blows up on death for hilarious results) or the batshit crazy toxin and disease master named Dr. Thrax. Like all good intentions leading to hell, game balance was fucked worse than a fresh Thai hooker in Pattaya, but one can always add the Shockwave mod and see some true fun. (Specialist generals get at least some compensating unit types in nonspecialist areas.)
- Generals 2: Was looking awesome and ready to reignite the franchise, but got cancelled.
Red Alert Gallery
Hitler making a cameo.