Energy, we all need it. Many are quite prepared to fight for it. Whether it's the last Mars Bar on a South West train trolley (ahem - sorry lady!), crude oil reserves in the desert, or the alien Tiberium crystal deposits in the future Earth of Command & Conquer, a shrinking watering hole makes for tetchy predators and none are more liable to try to rip each others' throats out than the rival factions of the Global Defence Initiative (GDI) and Brotherhood of Nod (Nod).
The GDI is likened by senior producer Mike Glocsecki to the UN of today, an "alliance of advanced nations" and Nod as "a stateless hybrid of terrorist organisation, religion and corporation". They don't get on very well. In fact they don't get on at all, and over the long-running history of this classic strategy franchise they've embroiled Earth in a decade of destructive World Wars. Tiberium crystals are clearly even tastier than Mars Bars. We imagine they're like that crackly Space Dust.
Glocsecki reveals that there will be a third faction playable in C&C3's Xbox Live battles. "They'll be a new force in the conflict for Tiberium," he says. We hope it's aliens. We like aliens. While there is a PC version of the game in the works, Xbox Live will offer many features exclusive to Xbox 360.
New multiplayer modes for Xbox 360 will include Conquer, Capture the Flag and Siege (see right). We'll also get plenty of extra downloadable content via Xbox Live Marketplace. Glocsecki tells us that there will be downloadable maps in a similar fashion to the maps offered on Battle For Middle-Earth II as well as the usual Themes and Gamerpics.
Strategy games have traditionally failed to succeed in the console mainstream, washed away by the lack of conventional mouse and keyboard controls. But Glocseki hopes that new advances in console control streamlining will mean that "someone could pick up the game and start playing within five minutes". This means harvesting Tiberium to build bases, to produce troops and vehicles, to crush your enemies!
This is the simple, addictive formula that has kept this series strong on PC since 1995 and should drive success on Xbox 360.