Waaaaaaay back in the 90s, my first experience with Command & Conquer was on the Sega Saturn. Yeah, I found it blasphemous too…but it is what it is. Now, more than 20 years later, Command & Conquer Remastered Collection is here.
As one of the godfathers of the genre (along with Dune and Warcraft), Command & Conquer has oodles of history behind it. Though the brand’s fallen on hard times (the mobile and browser games certainly didn’t help), the series still has weight among the RTS community, especially those from the old school.
To be perfectly honest, I’ve never played the original Command & Conquer on the PC. I have the complete series on Origin, but I’ve never played the original, just the latter installments (particularly Yuri’s Revenge).
As the first time playing Command & Conquer on the PC, does it still hold up?
What is Command & Conquer Remastered Collection?
Command & Conquer Remastered Collection is a set of two games; Command & Conquer and it’s alternate reality sequel, Red Alert. Both are RTS titles, developed by Westwood Studios in the 90s. They’re now remastered by the guys at Petroglyph (Star Wars: Empire at War) and published by EA.
As befitting a collection, the game has tons of content.
Both games come with all the expansion packs included, with the original game netting the Playstation exclusive missions as well. On top of that, there are a ton of extras, such as behind the scenes footage of the mission briefings.
As a compilation, I’d have expected there to be concept art or storyboards or design documents included. Nope, if you’re into that sort of thing (like me), it’s a bit sad to seem them missing.
The new stuff falls mainly into two categories; visuals and audio.
Remastering the visuals meant that work had to be done on the sprites, the cutscenes and the resolution. The new character models are definitely worth the price of admission alone.
Units look much better, animate more fluidly and are easier to differentiate in the field. You’ll no longer mistake an APC for a Light Scout Humvee for example. You can switch back and forth between the old and the new with the press of the Spacebar so you’re never stuck with one.
The cutscenes are also improved, though EA had to use an AI to upscale them. The results are pretty good; they’re much more detailed and cleaner (compared to the grainy FMV in the original) but they make the simplistic CGI look even more dated now.
For the audio, it’s much more impressive.
EA’s gone and created all new remixes of the original tunes, with the original composer Frank Kelpacki back at the helm. These aren’t as iconic as the originals, but fit in really well with them nonetheless. Hell, if you don’t like the new tunes, the older ones are still in the game too!
My favourite new addition is the Jukebox, which allows you to create your own playlist of tunes from both games. That means if you want to listen to the various versions of Hell March over and over again, you’re free to do so!
Most of the gameplay is untouched, which means the game still has the old school guffaws such as braindead AI, sandbag buildings and the punishing ‘puzzle’ stages (where you’ll quick save every few steps). It’s all there.
Sure, now you can queue multiple units (and unit types) and UI doesn’t require scrolling in the build menu to get to different buildings but the nitty gritty is the same. Customization in the way of hot key binding’s also added so you can amp up your APM and pretend that you’re playing StarCraft.
With every single content pack available for both games, the game is incredible value on that fact alone. There’s hours of campaign material to play through, plus skirmish maps and whatever mods you want to introduce into the main game.
I wish that Petroglyph went a step further and introduced the ability to garrison buildings in the original games but that might be just me. Hopefully somebody mods this in!
Oh yeah…the collection features Steam Workshop support…which means MODs! Cheats, quality of life updates…whole new maps. They’re all there and all you need to do is just to click on what you want.
The Bottom Line.
Two games, with all their extras included plus redone visuals, music and a host of behind the scenes footage. That’s a lot of bang for you buck!
True, there are some issues inherent from the original that I wish EA and Petroglyph fixed but you can argue that it’s meant to be that way since it’s a remaster, not a remake.
In that light, the Command & Conquer Remastered Collection is one of the best remaster efforts I’ve seen and well worth a play whether you’re an old school general or a new recruit.
Hopefully, Red Alert 2 Remastered is coming soon…I need me some Yuri!
Great remaster of venerable classics!
- Great gameplay.
- Tons of extras.
- Remastered visuals and audio are awesome.
- Great price for two games.
- Old gameplay quirks remain.