In my Life in Games feature, I talked about my experience of playing demo of the original Command and Conquer as a kid, but that it was Red Alert 2 where my true love affair with the series started, a love affair that led me to create my first site. But I still fondly remember those missions in the demo of the original and seeing them again in Command and Conquer Remastered Collection is a joy.
This new package contains the original Tiberian Dawn and Red Alert titles, beautifully remastered by EA and the team formed from the ashes of Westwood Studios, Petroglyph Games. It’s been a community effort too, with producer Jim Vessella talking in a Reddit blog about reaching out to the community and contracting Luke “CCHyper” Feenan to create the nostalgia filled recreation of the installation videos that came with the original titles.
I remember the installation video from the demo of Tiberian Dawn, and seeing the new version when you first launch the games in this remastered package is a wonderful sight. It speaks of the care taken to bring these games to a new audience, making suitable alterations here and there without losing the original ebb and flow of the action that defined an era of the RTS genre.
While large aspects of the games have been brought up to date, the FMV mission briefings haven’t faired so well. With many of the original recordings long lost, there was only so much the developers could do to restore them. The sequences with Joe Kucan as Kane have had some improvements, but sadly the in-engine sequences purporting to show units moving into action look very rough around the edges. Re-creating these from scratch was probably, and understandably, beyond scope of the project, but they are a jarring step-down in quality from those moments seeing Kane hold forth.
While the Command and Conquer series is certainly well known for its FMVs (which became especially cheesy in Red Alert 2), the fact is that the in-game action is second to none. In a lovely touch your first action in both Tiberian Dawn and Red Alert is to switch from the original graphics to the remastered for 4K graphics. In my mind, the original game looked as good as it does now, but switching between the two modes shows how little detail could be rendered back in 1995. The refreshed units and buildings have lost none of their charm, and seeing something like the MCV deploy in all its modern glory is a wonderful feeling.
The core routines of controlling your units are the same as ever. While you can now use right-click to give orders, units still require a level of hands-on control that isn’t seen in modern RTS titles. You can’t set a unit on an attack move order or set waypoints, you have to guide them all the way to their objective. It makes for intense work as you juggle between unit groups and the build queues. Thankfully some concessions to modern gameplay approaches have been made, and hotkeys are prevalent. I have no doubt that some masters of the genre are already dominating the multiplayer modes.
For me though, the campaigns have always been at the heart of the Command and Conquer series. Despite my enduring love for the series, I’ve never completed Tiberian Dawn, and barely touched the original Red Alert. My heart was always with Yuri rather than Kane, although Tiberian Sun is undoubtedly a stone cold classic. But as I venture through the GDI campaign in Tiberian Dawn, I realise how well crafted they are. No mission feels the same as you work your way through Europe in the hunt for Kane, and that’s testament to the mission design of Westwood.
Back in 2006 there was a Command and Conquer: The First Decade collection from which I dabbled in the original games. But even by 2006, the original games were a relic of their time, and sadly the series started to lose its way after Tiberium Wars and Red Alert 3. This remastered collection serves as a reminder that these titles are still worth playing, especially with the remastered graphics and complete with all the special missions, all powered on by the masterful tunes of Frank Klepacki and the Tiberian Sons tribute band.
This is a collection that everyone should enjoy, and if we don’t see similar treatment for Tiberian Sun and Red Alert 2 I will be left very disappointed.
The Verdict – Headshot
Platforms Reviewed/Available – PC
Review based on Steam media account copy. Please read this post for more on our scoring policy.