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Command and Conquer: Renegade (PC) artwork

Command and Conquer: Renegade (PC) review

"Set in the game world of the original Command & Conquer RTS, Renegade is a first person shooter centering around a commando named Havoc and a simple plot unfolding over 12 missions. It is no way a ground breaking RTS, and in fact has a couple of flaws that leave it clearly a step behind the best in the genre. Renegade is mostly of an interest to fans of Command & Conquer due to the many similarities and tributes to the original game, but will likely only be of remote interest to those who have n..."

Set in the game world of the original Command & Conquer RTS, Renegade is a first person shooter centering around a commando named Havoc and a simple plot unfolding over 12 missions. It is no way a ground breaking RTS, and in fact has a couple of flaws that leave it clearly a step behind the best in the genre. Renegade is mostly of an interest to fans of Command & Conquer due to the many similarities and tributes to the original game, but will likely only be of remote interest to those who have not played C&C.

In a nutshell, Command & Conquer centers around a global conflict between the GDI - kind of a worldwide NATO - and the sinister Brotherhood of Nod, a rapidly growing terrorist operation with roots in many third world countries. Their conflict is fueled by the mysterious mineral Tiberium, a precious but poisonous commodity which has appeared all over the world, and which both sides aggressively claim using huge Harvester vehicles, in an attempt to gain the resources to outdo their enemy. In C&C, both sides build bases and units to destroy the other base with in typical RTS fashion. In Renegade, all the action is seen from the eyes of an individual, but all the familiar base structures and units are there for you to fight and destroy. Many missions have you infiltrate one Nod base or another, fighting against Nod infantry armed with a variety of weapons, and exactly those vehicles they use in C&C as well. You, too, often have the opportunity to jump into an unattended vehicle and use its firepower. These vehicles are in no way realistically simulated or hard to control; it's just sheer fun factor, much like the entire game is.

Looking past the lack of realism - which is easy to do because Renegade does not even attempt to be realistic - what you have here is a fun, action packed title which focuses on killing the enemy and doesn't force you to explore for too long. With just a few exceptions (and those are resultingly the weaker parts of the game), most levels are straightforward, and packed with enemies for you to destroy. Every level has a large number of primary and secondary objectives to pursue, most of which involve blowing stuff up. At the end of every mission, you are given an evaluation ranging from 1 to 5 stars which is based on how many objectives you fulfilled, how long the mission took you, which difficulty level you are playing and, interestingly, how often you abused the quicksave/quickload options to make things easier on yourself.

With only 12 missions, Renegade is somewhat short (I finished it in three nights, none of which ran very late), but the locations are fairly varied. You will see the usual Nod bases, but also fight in canyons, urban areas, on board a battleship, and in the dark and sinister Temple of Nod. A plot unfolds during the game, at a rapid pace to match the action, and what it lacks in depth it makes up for in simple effectiveness. The associated dialogues are also humorous, not in a witty way but with plenty of cheap chuckles. This is consistent with the tongue-in-cheek approach that Renegade, and indeed the whole C&C series, take with warfare. It's serious to some extent, and on the other hand it isn't. Exchanges where Havoc is warned that there's an entire army against him and him remarking ''mmm, that's hardly fair, maybe I'll shoot left handed'' are typical examples of this.

Good points of Renegade are that your character moves around quickly, there are very few long stretches of territory without enemies to kill or objectives to accomplish, and minimal exploration is needed to find your targets most of the time. Somewhat weaker points are the lack of secrets to find - most of the game is very straightforward - a generally poor AI, and the fact that although there are many different weapons, most of them have very little practical use. The sniper rifle is great for distance shots, but you almost never have any ammo for it, and for short range weapons, the Chaingun and later in the game the Laser Rifle are the only ones really worth using. Add the Bazooka which comes in useful against vehicles, and you've had most of it. That leaves over a dozen other rifles almost unused, including the very powerful Tiberium Auto Rifle that you only get at a stage in the game where most enemies are immune to it. Not that it matters much; the AI is generally poor and enemies frequently stagger out in the open or fail to react to their buddies being sniped right next to them. You yourself have both armor and health to absorb enemy shots with, and powerups for both are frequently found. It should be noted, however, that higher difficulty levels limit both the number of powerups and the maximum values for your health and armor, making things appropriately harder. This is a definite plus, as you'll be able to vary the difficulty fairly well with the 3 levels that you can choose from.

Graphically, Renegade is colourful and well polished, and for a C&C player it's great to see Mammoth Tanks up close or Hands of Nod from the inside. Everything has a clear techno feel to it, and although I found that building interiors get a little repetitive, there's enough variety in levels and outdoors scenery to keep you interested. Sound effects consist of very decent voice acting (definitely better than I expected) and, of course, lots of gunfire and explosions. Not overly realistic most of the time, but sounding quite good, and with plenty of tributes to C&C's original sound effects. The music fits in well in the background, but doesn't add a whole lot and is generally forgettable. But it's there, and manages not to ruin the mood, which counts for something at least.

For a true RTS fan, Renegade will likely feel a bit lacking. The enemy doesn't put up much of a fight, the game is rather short, and there is a lack of truly interesting tactical situations. Compared to an absolute masterpiece like Call of Duty (which in all fairness *is* quite a bit newer), Renegade is pretty much left in the dust. But it's not a bad addition to any RTS player's collection when the more famous titles have been long bought and finished, and fans of Command & Conquer will definitely want it. It's very playable and accessible, also to people who are not used to the FPS genre, and how else will you ever ride in a Nod Flamethrower Tank? The game has a multiplayer option as well which involves having a GDI and a Nod base and, through buying troops and vehicles to support your characters, trying to destroy the rival. I have not been able to test this due to a lack of opponents, but it looks good on paper. Once again, an option that will appeal to C&C fans more than anybody else, but that is pretty much the focus of the game anyway.

In the end, as a C&C fan, I can recommend Renegade if you don't expect too much. It'll be cheap by now, and as long as you don't expect it to blow you away, you'll get plenty of fun from it while it lasts.

Rating: 7/10

sashanan's avatar
Community review by sashanan (September 08, 2004)

Sashanan doesn't drink coffee; he takes tea, my dear. And sometimes writes reviews. His roots lie with the Commodore 64 he grew up with, and his gaming remains fragmented among the very old, the somewhat old, and rarely the new.

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