RIP, RTS: Command and Conquer

Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium  Wars

 GDI vs Scrin

Ah, finally, the modern era of HD! After the smash-hit that was RA2, I was all over TW like white on rice. I even bought the “Collector’s Edition.” Don’t ask me what that included, because I couldn’t tell you besides a headache through the installation process. I had to do some unsavory things to get this game to run, and that sticks out in my head more than the story, which boils down to how GDI and Nod respond to an alien invasion. One faction wants to repel the Scrin while the other welcomes them. Guess who is who?

Jennifer Morrison was the obligatory female among House's interns and I hardly noticed her. But she's in my C&C game? <3.

Jennifer Morrison was the obligatory female among House’s interns and I hardly noticed her. But she’s in my C&C game? <3.

 The production values of this game are through the roof. Westwood developed every game up to and including Yuri’s Revenge with Tender Love and Care, but the money that EA infused into every element of this game went a long way. Sci-Fi fans will recognize Grace Park and Tricia Helfer from Battlestar Galactica, alongside Michael Ironside, the voice of Sam Fisher in Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell as well as his roles in Total Recall and Starship Troopers. Who can forget Billy Dee Williams from Star Wars?
 Now here is the part where I admit that after over a decade of allegiance to GDI, Joe Kucan’s charisma as the enigmatic Kane has converted me. Of course, it helps that the expansion to TW, Kane’s Wrath, is dedicated exclusively to his character.
Kane is cool

Peace through Power!

I’m going all out. Nod isn’t just cool, Nod is one of the most gratifying factions that I have ever had the pleasure of playing in any RTS. The first two options in the infantry tree are identical except for their VA. Shadow Teams are essentially post-apocalyptic ninja complete with gliders, stealth, and explosives. I am acutely fond of the new flamethrower units, or the Black Hand. I don’t know how they don’t catch on fire, but they’re tough for infantry and they’re friggin called THE BLACK HAND, and they can be upgraded with the “purifying flame!” Rounding out the notable infantry for Nod is the Nod Commando, an alternative take on Tanya with dual laser pistols rather than dual ballistic pistols. She can cloak while not moving which isn’t as useful as the Shadow Team, but she’s much stronger, being able to take out buildings and walkers with C4.

Future ninja

The ninja of the future. Weapon of choice: machine gun pistols.

 Nod armor is more exciting than in the past, too. Even though the Scorpion Tank a “light” kind of tank compared to GDI armor, the design makes it worth building just to admire, especially after the upgrade to lasers. I could never get the Volkswagen Beetle-favoring Beam Cannons to work properly with the Venom Patrol Craft, but I did enjoy using them to overcharge the Obelisks of Light. The rotary turrets of the Flame Tanks made them worthy of being built, and of course, I loved the stealth tanks once more, complete with their screen shaking payload. The Avatar became Nod’s heavy mech, but it wasn’t until a few patches that it was worth building since GDI Mammoth Tanks could 1vs1 them after their railgun upgrades. Plus, they almost prohibitively expensive since they require cannibalizing other Nod units to reach maximum efficiency.  But if one has the money, it’s awesome getting these virtual terminators up and running, flamethrowers, beam cannons, and stealth actuators all attached.

Avatar

Avatarrrrr!

Venom Patrol Craft are nice because they are fast, can be built en masse, and detect invisible units. However, the Vertigo Bomber, the evolution of the Banshee, is everything that I imagined a stealth bomber to be, right down to the pilot’s VA. Even how they park on the Air Tower pleases the eye.
 Once again, Nod offers some great options for base structures. Something that sticks out in my mind to this day is its modular T1 base defenses, the Shredder Turret (upgraded later to Laser Turret) and SAM Turret, which can be placed in an aura around its node, providing better coverage, especially when backed by an Obelisk of Light. Disruption Towers can cloak the entire base, rendering Allied Gap Generators (which I have yet to mention because I found them to be more of a weakness than a strength) foolish by comparison. As always, the Temple of Nod offers a satisfying and devastating mushroom cloud of ownage.
What a mes!

When the ScrinToss get rolling into the lategame, the becomes cluttered.

 I’l admit that I did not play with the Scrin enough to really appreciate them as a faction. Most of my experience with them is as an enemy.  Popularly known as the “ScrinToss” due to their structural and unit similarity to the Protoss in StarCraft, I would say that the primary use of their ground units is to delay not getting rofflstomped until the air units come out. Particularly strong is the fact that the Gun Walker and Seeker can both attack air units, and the Seeker can detect stealth. Notably, Buzzers can combine with Scrin armor making even Devourer tanks highly resistant to enemy infantry, because the Buzzers when attached to vehicles are immune and can only be destroyed after the armor has been taken out first. In the meantime, they automatically come out of armor to kill infantry. Yeah, I did not play with Scrin as much, but I can admit that they are frustratingly strong. The Annihilator Tripod might give fans of the Protoss Colossi something to cheer for, but it is nowhere close in power. In fact, even with Shields (yes, the Scrin get shields on its large units just like the Protoss do), a GDI Mammoth Tank upgraded with Railguns can 1v1 the Scrin’s strongest ground unit. not worth it.

Again, Scrin meta is above my head, but I’ll try to do them justice. The Stormrider may be pound-for-pound the best unit in the game. It is more durable than any other strike-craft in the game, augmented by ion storms with increased damage and healing. The only sense of balance that these things offer is that one can only build four per Gravity Stabilizer. They can attack anything in the air or the ground, though they are weak against infantry. But that is what the Devastator Warship is for, which lays siege to anything on the ground at a distance, forcing enemies to face the Stormriders head-on. Rounding out the Scrin trinity is the Planetary Assault Carrier, obviously inspired by the Protoss Carrier, which generates its own ion storm, increasing the efficiency of all accompanying craft in the fleet. When these things are seen on the map, it is only a matter of time before the Scrin completely overwhelm their opponents. Of course, all this stuff is crazy expensive—just like the Protoss—so it is best to keep the Scrin suppressed so that they do not take over the map with that aerial navy. The MOST AWESOME UNIT OF THE GAME, however, is the Scrin Mothership, the only other such ship besides the Pride of Higara in Homeworld which I refer to as “THE MOTHER*%&$ING SHIP.” It moves like a slug across the screen, and that is good balance, because it is a mobile superweapon that is nowhere near as fun as Rift Generator, and that’s saying a lot because the latter is a black hole creator that implodes enemy bases. THE MOTHER*%&$ING SHIP takes 7 seconds to fire even after the 10 minutes it takes to travel from one side of the map to the other (unless the Scrin player stealthily builds the Signal Transmitter closer to an enemy base so that the THE MOTHER*%&$ING SHIP spawns there instead), but once it does fire, it begins a chain reaction that either forces the enemy to quickly sell all buildings affected by the shockwave effect of watch in despair what an auto-GG looks like. THE MOTHER*%&$ING SHIP is the primary reason why I played Scrin the few times that I did.

Scrin Mothership

The ship in question in all of her glory. It is customary to manually shake your monitor when nobody is looking while saying “MOTHER*%&$ING SHIP.”

 While I have confessed that Nod is *quite* satisfying to play, and I have sorta converted, GDI ain’t no joke, either. In fact, they very much appeal to my fandom of Quake thanks to their generous usage of railguns, which were so OP that they had to be nerfed. Still, the railguns are so strong, that GDI armor is effective even against ground units, a change in philosophy from previous C&C games. Zone Troopers can be deployed automatically for a price, creating instant anti-everything-but-air-and-buzzers with a mouse click. The Commando returns after his absence in TS, complete with old and new one-liners, and he is arguably stronger than the Nod counterpart due to his Jump Jets where he can dodge incoming enemy fire and land right where he needs. This is especially effective against Obelisks of Light and heavy units like the Annihilator Tripod.
 For the first time in the Tiberium continuum, GDI offers a unit that is as fun as the Nod Attack Bike, and that’s the Pitbull—an ATV with a fun name, fun concept. Predator Tanks are boring yet strong, but GDI is all about the MAMMOTH TANK. There really isn’t any other way to refer to the unit except all caps. It’s not THE MOTHER*%&$ING SHIP, but it’s the next closest thing. With the VA coming from a brotha with a booming voice, clicking on the unit and hearing the simplicity in the awesomeness within the words “MAMMOTH TANK” makes the hair on my arms stand. The lines, “Armor Superiority” and “Unrivaled” are just as cocky, but just as legit. I’ve never been in love with the MAMMOTH TANK as much as the Mammoth MK. III. What a magnificent and majestic weapon!
armor superiority

’nuff said.

The Juggernaut is essentially the Titan from TS after some intensive upgrades. EA realized that the walkers for GDI were not sexy, and reduced the presence of them in their arsenal to this one unit (unless one counts the Steel Talon faction from Kane’s Wrath) which I overlooked for a long, long time because the MAMMOTH TANK is soooogood.gif. Well, sometimes, the enemy builds a superweapon like a Temple of Nod, and I need to take it out without risking my forces. Or, I have to suppress a marching army before it reaches my base. At any rate, the Juggernaut’s range is so extensive with a spotter like a Sniper Team, that an effective strategy is simply to bombard the enemy, forcing them to come with whatever they’ve got, preferably into a choke-point.

As far as GDI’s air force is concerned, the Orca returns to its original strength from the days of TD, making it actually useful to build once again for reasons besides its sleek design. However, the Firehawk is the new kid on the block, bringing mad-crazy versatility with it. Equipped with Rattlesnake missiles for anti-air or Groundpounder bombs for anti-buildings, this jet can deal devastating blows to enemy forces. However, while being able to fast-toggle payload depending on what is needed for the next sortie is indispensable, what makes this unit one of the best in the game are its “Statofighter Boosters,” which launch the Firehawk into orbit only to return a mere few seconds later wherever—and I do mean wherever—the player likes, such as a MCV or Superweapon or expansion. Because this ability can be used to bypass anti-air, it is much more possible for the Firehawk to survive leaving from its target than to pass over the enemy’s base twice. This unit is the only air unit not belonging to the Scrin that can actually dogfight the aliens—and win.

There are many reasons as to why I am fond of C&C3. Not the least among them is the fact that EA took a big, smelly dump on the C&C franchise its “direct” sequel. Perhaps chief among the positive reasons that I adore TW is the power of the Ion Cannon. After watching Nod enjoy the devastating nuke in the last two games of the series while GDI enjoyed little more than a pea-shooter, GDI’s new and improved Ion Cannon became the devastating weapon that I always imagined, always dreamed it to be.

“Geosynchronous orbit” you say? Why, I’ll take three!

We may never see another C&C game of this caliber set in the Tiberium universe.

 CONTINUE TO PAGE 7 FOR C&C: RED ALERT 3

Maurice Pogue

Since picking up an NES controller in 1985 at the age of 2, Maurice and video games have been inseparable. While most children aspired to be lawyers, doctors, or engineers (at the behest of their parents), he aspired to write for publications such as EGM, PC Gamer, PC Accelerator, and Edge. After achieving ABD status in English at MSU, Maurice left academia and dedicated his writing to his lifelong passion. He is currently the Video Game Editor at Geeks Under Grace.

1 Comments

  1. Wesley Wood on February 21, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    Awesome write up Maurice!

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