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Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars

Score: 95%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: EA Games
Developer: EA Los Angeles
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1; 1 - 4 Online
Genre: Real-Time Strategy/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

For a company that is forever accused of never trying anything outside of the box, it has had the biggest impact on making real-time strategy games a viable genre on consoles. Last year, EA delivered Battle for Middle-earth II and though it fell short of being the "Halo of RTS games" that EA had hoped, it went a long way showing that an RTS could work on a console. With its second try, Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars, EA has reworked the system, resulting in a game that remains true to the PC experience, while keeping it console friendly.

Command and Conquer 3 looks great and matches up well to the PC version. Units and environments are detailed and all of the little special effects that happen during battle look great. Compared to the PC game, the 360 version seems to run a little faster - at least when compared to the game running on my rig. The faster pacing works with the new streamlined control system. As a result, I found myself having more fun with the 360 version than the PC one.

As great as everything looks, the real attraction here are FMVs that pop up between missions and during in-game briefings. Although the scenes have a few moments of pure cheese, they are incredibly fun and build a great atmosphere into the game. In sense, they are like the pre-show seen in the queue areas of major theme rides that pull you into the ride's world. In addition to Joseph Kucan, who reprises his role as the enigmatic Kane, the game features notable talent including all-around badass Michael Ironside and Mr. Smooth himself, Billy Dee Williams. Josh Holloway (Lost), Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica), Jennifer Morrison (House) and Miss USA Shauntay Hinton round out the game's cast along with real-life newscasters Shannon Cook and John Huck.

The musical score carries you through the game and doesn't compete for your attention - allowing you to listen for alerts from units that they've engaged the enemy or messages from your home base.


By now, Command and Conquer's primary parties are well-known. There's GDI - the Global Defense Initiative - which is the world's army and the Brotherhood of Nod, an underground terrorist organization. Each side has basic units that parallel each other, such as riflemen, heavy weapons units and light assault vehicles; at the same time, both have their own toys that fit with their faction's personality. GDI sticks to the military guidelines, employing tanks, snipers and bi-pedal tanks sporting long-range firing capabilities. Meanwhile, Nod's weapons are more in-line with its clandestine activities, such as fanatics (suicide-bombers), stealth tanks and flying saboteurs. The balance between unit types is pretty good with no side having a pronounced advantage over the other, which is one of the primary fundamentals of any RTS.

Command and Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars takes place in the year 2047, seventeen years after Firestorm, the final expansion to Tiberium Sun. In this time, the world has undergone a number of drastic changes that affect both factions and set up the third Tiberium War. Tiberium, a radioactive resource, has spread and grown out of control, prompting the world to be split into three zones. Blue Zones are the only completely inhabitable areas of the world and are largely controlled by GDI. The rest is split into Yellow Zones, which are livable but contaminated and Red Zones, which are toxic. Nod sees this as an insult and decides that after years of hiding in the shadows, it is time to strike.

Their plot begins with a nuclear strike on the orbiting command platform Philadelphia during a major GDI summit. The attack destroys nearly all of GDI's command structure. In the ensuing chaos, Nod also begins a series of quick strikes around the globe, leaving it up to you, a Treasury officer and a handful of surviving generals to save the day.

On the 360, the mission structure is a little different. Rather than playing as either of the two factions from the start, you must play though the first act of the GDI campaign before unlocking the Nod campaign. Although you can play from one side and get the story, you won't get the entire story until all are completed since they constantly reference each other. Early in the GDI campaign, you have to liberate Washington, D.C. while in the Nod campaign, you lead the strike to take it over.

While most of the game's plot involves these two factions trading blows, C&C 3 introduces a third race, the Scrin. This alien race doesn't show up until later in the campaigns, but when they do they make quite the entrance. Like the other two factions, they have their own toy box full of powerful alien weapons like tri-pod walkers (think "War of the Worlds") and a planetary assault cruiser that is like having a mobile airport.

Multiplayer is another of Command & Conquer 3's strong points. Standard skirmish modes are available for up to four players as are a number of other, more strategy-oriented modes. Capture-and-Hold has players battling for control of certain points on the map while Capture-the-Flag adapts the FPS-standard mode to an RTS. Siege keeps players from attacking each other before a timer goes off, which adds a new wrinkle to the typical RTS match since it eliminates any possibility of an early game rush. The Live Vision Camera is also supported so you can see opposing generals.


Mission types are well-balanced. Some require extreme micromanagement while others are just knockdown, drag-out fights. Three difficultly levels are available and are set independently of each other. If missions become too hard, you can bump down the difficulty and then bump it up again if they start to become too easy. There are also a number of secondary objectives in each level that you can choose to pursue, all of which make your primary goals more challenging.

Although the game's classic feel is great, there are a few holdover mechanics that don't feel all that great. The biggest, and in my mind, most problematic is that there isn't much to creating armies. Rather than carefully planning out your army's composition, you can usually just load down a massive army of powerful units and crush everything in your way. This is especially true later in matches when some units can attack any unit types.

Although unit composition tactics don't come into play too much, tactics still come into play a great deal. Missions are still hard to crack, even when playing on Easy, and require specialized tactics. What works in one situation won't work in the other; something that becomes abundantly clear once you get into the fourth mission of each faction.

Game Mechanics:

Command and Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars uses the same basic control setup as Battle for Middle-earth II, although with a few minor alterations that help to make it even more controller friendly.

Everything you need to build and command your armies is contained in a small side-bar in the bottom-left hand of the screen. All of your build and command options are contained on a small side-bar that is accessed by pressing the Right Trigger. These include Troop, Vehicle and Aircraft commands as well as Structure, Power and Support commands - all of which can be scrolled through by pressing Up and Down on the D-Pad. The (A) button is your main action button. Highlighting a Menu option activates it. Once a structure is completed, you can then drop it on the battle field with another press of the (A) button.

Of course, base construction is a little harder than it at first seems. All of your structures require power, so you have to build plants to keep them operational. The trick is that you are limited to the amount of power you can generate, which can limit your base size just a bit. If you do manage to go over your power capacity, parts of your base shut down, taking any of their duties with them.

Controlling units uses a similar set-up. In order to select a unit, you first place the cursor over it, then press (A). Once it is selected, you can place the context-sensitive cursor on a move or attack spot. Holding the Left Trigger selects all available units, while holding the Right Bumper selects only units of a certain type.

In addition to unique units, all three factions also have access to special powers that act sort of like the Ring powers in Battle for Middle-earth. Like their hardware, each faction's powers reflect their style. GDI can call in quick air-strikes or drop teams of snipers or vehicles into battle, while Nod can deploy assassins or break out nuclear strikes. The Scrin have the more impressive powers of the three, which range from teleportation to the ability to create black holes.

At the risk of losing credibility among the hardcore RTS players, I actually liked the 360 version of Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars more than the PC version. While fundamentally the same game, the intuitive control scheme helped to give the game a quicker, more enjoyable feel. Although it won't appeal to everyone - especially more closed-minded PC players -- Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars is an enjoyable change of pace from the 360's current line-up of shooters and racing games and another major step towards making the genre viable on consoles.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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