Command & Conquer Remastered Collection Review

 

 
Overview
 

Genre: Real Time Strategy
 
Rating: MA15+
 
Release Date: Out Now
 
Overall
 
 
 
 
 
4.5/5


 

Positives


-Largely stellar remaster of two classic RTS games which defined the genre
-Clear love and attention from fans of the franchise
-Fluid, crisp graphics and toggle-able modern features
-Lots of fun bonus content
-Excellent music

Negatives


-The upscaling and conversion of FMV sequences works well in some instances, and looks pretty shoddy in others
-Issues with the old games still persist, and they are rather simple given how the genre would evolve


Posted July 18, 2020 by

 
Full Article
 
 

After laying in a virtual coma for a decade (apart from the odd mobile and free-to-play release), the Command & Conquer franchise may finally be waking up again at EA, to greet its ready and long-waiting loving family and friends. The Command & Conquer Remastered Collection is a damn fine update of the two original games in the series – Command & Conquer (1995) and Command & Conquer: Red Alert (1996)- that seems to have been made by fans, for fans.

From the very first time you boot up the remastered Command & Conquer, you know that the guys behind this collection get it. A cute remastered version of the original DOS installer for Command & Conquer opens the game, which as some may remember, was set in-universe, with 3D graphics and neon-green grid lines, as if your computer was being upgraded by the military to become a command center. The new version adds a few cheeky touches, like bypassing all the SoundBlaster drivers in favour of high definition audio, and tuning your resolution all the way from 320×240 to 4K. It sets the tone for what really is a loving compilation.

Both games included in the collection have been remastered to run in up to 4K, with new detailed graphics that can be switched on or off at any point. The excellent soundtracks have been remastered, with 20 standout tracks actually being re-recorded by the original composer Frank Klepacki. The thumping metal soundtrack may actually be my favourite part of the entire remaster, which sounds terrific playing the game with headphones. The original games conveyed their story with a mix of CGI animation and live action FMV’s, which been upscaled with varying techniques, and with varying success levels. The original videos were interlaced, which meant they missed every second line of information, so some of the videos have taken advantage of AI-driven upscaling to up-res to high definition, which definitely look sharper but result in some strange artifacting and warping. Other FMV’s, while upscaled, remain fuzzy and undetailed. While they’re a mixed bag in terms of quality, the effort to remaster them at all in lieu of having access to all the original materials is admirable. Outtakes and original unkeyed footage from the shoots is also included as fun unlockable bonus material.

Both games are responsible for forming the RTS genre, and as such can seem a bit basic by today’s standards. In Command & Conquer your objective is generally to collect resources, build a base and then seek and destroy your enemy’s base or other objectives on the map. Set in an alternate timeline where Earth’s resources are derived from Tiberium crystals, the Global Defense Initiative fight the Brotherhood of Zod, led by the immortal Kane. Red Alert gets significantly crazier, starting with Albert Einstein travelling back in time to kill Hitler in the 1920’s before his rise to power, creating another alternate timeline where World War II is instead fought between the Allies and the Soviet Union. Red Alert also expanded units to both air and sea, and feels a little freer in mixing up mission styles than the original. Both provide a good challenge, although upping to hard difficulty does show just how unbalanced these games could be. Some bugs carry over from the originals in pathfinding, or units not following instructions from time to time, but there’s nothing gamebreaking.

Digging into the options, there’s an array of modern features you can turn on or off, depending on how classic you want your experience to be, from game speed to key bindings. You can also play skirmish matches or online, with 4 players per map in C&C and 8 in Red Alert. There’s also a map editor and support for mods – which with the offering of the original source code for the games by EA, means there could be some cool stuff down the pipeline that’s built by the community.

The collection also includes all of the content from expansion packs, The Covert Operations for C&C, and Counterstrike and The Aftermath for Red Alert. Also included are additional missions from the console ports of the games, along with their unique FMV’s, which make this the most complete way to experience C&C and Red Alert.

Command & Conquer Remastered Collection really breathes new life into the series, even if it’s just wrapping up its two oldest games in modern clothing. It reminds players of exactly what they fell in love with about Command & Conquer, with fun, challenging missions, goofy FMV’s and awesome music. Even if the games do show their age after 25 years, there’s still everything here a fan could want in a remaster and more.


Adam Ghiggino

 
Owner, Executive Editor of Rocket Chainsaw. I also edit TV, films and make average pancakes.