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Command and Conquer: Renegade (PC) artwork

Command and Conquer: Renegade (PC) review

"The rush you experience from rushing squads of tanks and soldiers into an enemy base is a memorable one- just ask any Command & Conquer fan. Westwood’s renowned real-time strategy franchise has captivated gamers for a long time, even though the game was a little light on the “strategy” side. As other RTS games focused more on micro-management, complex formations and the like, Command & Conquer continued to deliver the fast-paced missions and entertaining cutscenes that made the s..."

The rush you experience from rushing squads of tanks and soldiers into an enemy base is a memorable one- just ask any Command & Conquer fan. Westwood’s renowned real-time strategy franchise has captivated gamers for a long time, even though the game was a little light on the “strategy” side. As other RTS games focused more on micro-management, complex formations and the like, Command & Conquer continued to deliver the fast-paced missions and entertaining cutscenes that made the series so popular.

Westwood eventually decided that something innovative was needed to keep the C&C respected, but more importantly, lucrative. Thus, Command & Conquer: Renegade is born! Instead of commanding an army you play as an individual solder amidst the battle. The overhead view is replaced with first-person in-your-face action, but the results are painfully mixed.

The world of Renegade is loosely based on the first C&C game. In the near future, the GDI(a new name for the U.S. military I’m presuming) and the evil NOD are waging a war all throughout the world. The NOD brainwashes, tortures and kills hapless people. They’re so evil that one of the characters is an obvious reference to a Nazi. In videogames there’s nothing worse than a Nazi.

In the single-player campaign you play as Havoc, a badass GDI commando with a devil-may-care attitude. Havoc constantly disobeys direct orders, dishes out delightful one-liners and recklessly rushes into battle with guns blazing. Every time one of the wildly entertaining cutscenes shows up I couldn’t help but picturing Ah-nuld Schwarzenegger, the best governor next to Jesse Ventura, in a movie based on the character. And yes, the best governor comment was sarcasm.

Havoc must play through twelve somewhat lengthy missions in hopes of taking down NOD once and for all. For the first half of the game I found it to be very enjoyable. The adrenaline was pumping due to swarms of bad guys and an arsenal of intriguing weapons to take them out. There’s standard weaponry like the sniper rifle and grenade launcher, but then there’s more exciting weapons like the chem sprayer and the enormous chaingun. Reinforcements are also sent in at certain points, so you aren’t always an army of one. To make things even sweeter is the ability pilot and variety of vehicles which include three different tanks, a hum-vee and a couple others. It’s hard not to laugh when a bunch of guys with machine guns try taking out your Mammoth Tank and you just blow them all up.

There were really only two problems I initially noticed. First, the A.I. was awful. The bad guys just sit there as Havoc sniped their friends or just barely missed them with a rocket launcher. This should have been greatly improved by the time the patches were released, but alas, it wasn’t tweaked at all. Another annoyance was that NOD soldiers would sometimes spawn out of nowhere. They’d appear right behind Havoc after he cleared a whole room. At least the good still outweighed the bad for a while.

The levels were probably some of the largest ever seen in a FPS. Most levels also contain secret objective and multiple paths. While it’s nowhere near the level of open-endedness of Deus Ex, it’s a step up from most other games. The objectives seem varied at first, ranging from escort missions, boss battles and destroying enemy buildings(which are large enough to be levels on their own). The buildings should seem very familiar to people who have played C&C games before. The effect of finally being able to see the inside power plants, Hand of NODs, Tiberium refineries may be lost if you haven’t.

After playing about halfway through the game I had a feeling of déjà vu. A few minutes later I realized it wasn’t déjà vu, just plain repetition. Most of the objectives were rehashing past missions, while only a couple of levels were still fun. Havoc had to go into the exact same building to destroy it every other level. All the enemies started to feel the same, despite that many had different levels. Eventually I found myself struggling to keep on playing this game. The repetition became too much for me. The only thing that kept me going was the cool cutscenes and the warm, fuzzy feeling I get from beating a game. Finally, the last level was completed.

While the single-player does not completely succeed, the multiplayer was far more engaging. Unlike the single-player campaign, this mode actually resembles C&C games. There is one base for each side on the map, and within each base you can buy new soldiers to play as or vehicles to control. The main goal is to destroy the opposing base, much like it is in a RTS. It’s quite a sight to see half a dozen tanks and a dozen soldiers slowly moving into an opposing base for the victory.

There’s also some actual strategy involved. You have to work together with your teammates to find the perfect combination of defense and offense. Each person will have to be different soldiers since some are more effective in certain situations than others. Best of all, multiplayer is addictive, especially when compared to the single-player campaign. Each player is ranked, so becoming a top-ranking player may become an unhealthy obsession.

Much like the single-player mode, the graphics are pretty much hit-and-miss. On one hand the levels are enormous and the character designs are great, but on the other hand a lot of the levels are barren and look monotonous. The cutscenes are done using the in-game engine, although it’s heavily modified so it looks more appealing.

One of Renegade’s strong points is the excellent voice acting. Havoc really does sound tough, and the supporting characters sound equally appropriate. There are also some subtle touches that heighten the game’s experience. My favorite is the random feel-good messages repeated over the loudspeaker in the NOD base. To compliment the action there are some intense electronic tunes, but there are also some generic heavy metal music that is distracting.

If you value a good online experience over the single-player experience, then Command & Conquer: Renegade is the game for you. While the single-player campaign is fun for a little while, it quickly devolves into a tedious experience. Too bad the cutscenes are just so damn good. Despite the flaws, the cheap price of Renegade makes it a solid title to pick up, at least for the multiplayer mode anyways…

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Community review by djskittles (March 07, 2004)

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