Command and Conquer: Renegade from Westwood is a first person shooter based on the popular C&C series of RTS games. Finally, you can really get into the action and face off in single or multiplayer combat as a member of the GDI or NOD forces. Sadly, the single player mode only has a GDI based scenario available, however it is very well done. Several types of foot soldiers are available with a slew of different weapons plus you can drive vehicles like tanks, armored personnel carriers, and more. Airborne, player piloted vehicles will be added soon and will sweeten up the game even more.
The single player and multiplayer modes have a training or practice mission that will familiarize you with the controls and get you up to playing speed quickly. Single player mode has a finely crafted storyline that moves you through the game complete with cut scenes after every mission, and new mission objectives unfold quickly before your eyes as you play. Just like the RTS C&C games, you’ll be going through all types of missions in the single player storyline such as rescue, search and destroy, collecting enemy information, and more. The missions continue to get more grueling as you go on, and every mission has multiple secondary objectives to accomplish if you choose to do them.
There is no lack of excitement here, and you can expect constant explosions and gunfire throughout the game. I always like jumping right into action from the onset of the game and was pleased to see that the first single player mission wasn’t disappointing at all. It starts you off gunning down troops in a canyon, then hopping into a medium tank to take out some enemy base defenses, and the mission ends after an ion cannon beam blows the enemy NOD base to holy hell. That’s just the first mission, so if you can imagine every mission being crazy like that, you’ll be right at home here.
The interface is your typical first person layout. The view is changeable from the first person to the third person, which is a nice feature. You can actually play in the third person view; it’s not just for looking around to see what’s around you like in some games. Keys can be re-mapped so if you don’t like the key settings, feel free to set them up how you like. I would have to rate the graphics only slightly above average, but nothing mind-boggling. While there are nice graphic details such as hovercraft trails in the water, smoke, a plethora of weapon effects, accented with some real nice explosions, unfortunately it comes off a little dated. The sound effects provide a good sense of immersion, but with the graphics lagging a bit behind, I was mildly disappointed.
Probably the only other thing that bugs me is the map restrictions. There are a lot of small rocks and other areas that you aren’t allowed to scale, climb, or jump over and end up hitting this invisible wall. I’d like to be able to run over and crawl in a lot more places than I was able to. The maps just aren’t dynamic enough in my opinion. At one point I tried to make a makeshift ditch to hide in, but no matter how many times I blasted the ground with my rocket launcher, I couldn’t put a dent in it. I think this would make for a really cool feature, maybe the developers can incorporate it in the next iteration of the game. Decals are nice with bullets leaving holes in rocks, walls, and other things that you shoot at. I imagine that if you were allowed to stray from the destined path you might miss out on some critical objective points, but I thought it was almost a little too linear. Renegade just isn’t the anything goes type of shooter where you can create your own door by blowing holes in walls to get inside buildings and things like that. I prefer to play the sniper and you can’t blame me for trying to find new spots to snipe from.
Multiplayer support is nicely diversified with support for LAN, Westwood Online, and GameSpy. I’m very happy that GameSpy is supported because I think that only having LAN and Westwood Online is just too limiting. So far there are ten multiplayer maps available that have pre-built GDI and NOD bases. Multiplayer mode is strictly team based, and the objective is to destroy the enemy base within the allotted timeframe. I think the concept and game play is great, but I would have liked to seen more maps to support other multiplayer modes such as player vs. player deathmatch. The well developed team based combat is fun and makes the game unique, but sometimes you just want to go in there with a full arsenal and rip some other players to shreds without worrying about team combat. Strictly team based combat is fun, but sometime you want to have more options.
A ladder ranking system keeps track of your individual game ranking as well as clan rankings and scores so you can compare yourself and your clan to all of the other Renegade addicts out there. Multiplayer victory conditions can be set to either win by destroying the enemy headquarters or for a long game you can set it up so that the first team to destroy all of the enemy buildings will win.
In multiplayer combat, you’ll start out on one of the teams as a soldier and as your harvester collects tiberium and converts it into cash, you’ll start getting more money in your personal account. Your base has several purchase terminals where you can purchase different units for yourself such as an engineer, grenadier, rocket trooper, and sniper, just to name a few. After purchasing a new soldier, you will be converted into that new soldier type with your new weapons available. In addition to purchasing soldiers, you can also purchase different vehicles for yourself such as armored personnel carrier, light tank, flame tank, stealth tank, mammoth tank, and more. I am also excited to see the flying vehicles which are currently in testing at Westwood, it will be really interesting to see how they change the current gameplay. There are some ultimate weapons like the ion cannon and nuclear missile which you can also buy, but you have to get inside the enemy base to plant the beacon and defend it from enemy engineers who are able to disarm it.
The pre-built multiplayer bases that both teams start up with have several buildings including base defenses like turrets and laser obelisks and also manufacturing buildings like a weapons factory, power plant, headquarters, and barracks. Your harvester is a key base component, which is a vehicle that goes outside of your base to collect tiberium and then comes back into the base at the tiberium refinery and converts the load of tiberium into cash. This is probably the most vunerable component of your base since it has to go outside the base to a tiberium field to harvest the tiberium. If the enemy destroys your harvester, you’ll be severely crippled and it will take you a lot longer to get the money you need to buy better units for yourself. Each building handles the manufacturing for different weapons and vehicles, so if any of those get destroyed by the enemy it will stop or severely cripple the development of your team’s arsenal.
You’ll start out inside your base and you’ll immediately need to coordinate with your team to defend it and at the same time take out the enemy base. Team based strategy is the key here, and you’ll be using the team chat and probably be playing on the same server with the same group of people for hours at a time. There’s no doubt that you’ll be losing sleep for at least two weeks after you pick up the game.
The previous Command and Conquer RTS series has already laid out the foundation for the unit types in this game and if you’ve played the RTS games, you are already familiar with NOD’s evil plots for world domination and GDI’s intention to stop them. C&C: Renegade brings us a new playing field perspective with all of the same units that we love plus a couple new ones. It keeps the C&C saga alive and expanding with all the favorite GDI and NOD plot tension that you would expect. Who knows what the next C&C will bring. Maybe at some point they will create a combination of RTS and first person shooter, wouldn’t that be killer? For now, Renegade should satisfy your need to roll some people over in a mammoth tank or pick off the troops with a sniper rifle as they unload from an APC. If you are a C&C fan in any way, you should surely check this out.