The GDI and NOD have a pretty good reason to fight. Their excuse for going to war, as if one were ever needed in Command & Conquer, is the ballyhoo surrounding the Tiberium crystals that have poisoned Earth, rendering the majority of the planet as inhospitable as Milton Keynes. The GDI have secured all the nice bits for right-thinking citizens everywhere, leaving whacko leather-fetishist cult The Brotherhood of NOD to languish in the bad old badlands.
That might be their reason for fighting, but our excuse for playing Command & Conquer 3 from beginning to end is the brilliant array of live-action cut-scenes starring Sawyer from Lost, Michael 'Sam Fisher' Ironside, a couple of Cylons, Lando Calrissian, and Princess Jennifer Morrison from House (she of the fetching fringe and bad taste in Australians). Each individual mini-movie is a wonderful melodrama-riddled ham-acting masterclass delivered by some of the greatest proponents of the art. We wouldn't be without it.
In fact, with its FMV-driven storyline and mechanics so old fashioned as to be almost quaint, Command & Conquer 3 is an unmistakably nineties-flavoured RTS, which makes it quite comfortably at home on a console. The Xbox 360 is in no position to support games that require oodles of micro-management and C&C was always a game that was built more around racing up the tech tree and storming into the enemy base with the wrath of God than carefully strategising. You'll need to expand to secure resources in the early game, but the end almost always comes the same way, with giant tanks rolling up to your doorstep, guns blazing and missiles levelling everything you've painstakingly, preciously built.
COMMAND & STINKER
It works in the favour of the 360 controller that you usually need only control a small number of units at a time, but EA LA still haven't hit on a satisfactory alternative to mouse and keyboard control. On the PC, assembling a group and switching between them is as simple and dragging a box and hitting a hot key, but on the 360 it's fiddly enough to be time consuming, and time consuming enough that it's not workable in the midst of one of the game's battles.
One mission sets you the task of defending a base by switching different defensive towers on and off while carefully guiding reinforcements in from afar and then attacking the three bases that are pishing soldiers and tanks your way. It's one of the game's tougher battles even on the PC, but with controls where it's near-impossible to co-ordinate even two groups of units, let alone half a dozen or more, it's a nightmare task that doesn't appear to have been rebalanced for the 360 in the slightest.
Enjoy that futuristic fracas, did you? Well, prepare for things to get even more manic online. There's the usual ranked and unranked Versus match business for up to four players, all with the added bonus of 360-exclusive Cam support; hook up your Live Cam and your opponent's fizzog sits in the corner of your screen, gurning away. And gurning they will be, as they tackle the monumental task of building units, switching between groups, managing their buildings, researching new tech, defending their base and launching a powerful attack with the counter-intuitive joypad controls.
KNOW YOUR ENEMY
Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars is a damned sight better than last year's LOTR: Battle for Middle Earth II, but the EA guys have had the best part of a year to come up with a better control scheme and, to be blunt, they just haven't delivered. There's a lot of gaming glory in here, with three campaigns and an admirably comprehensive online mode, but the control set-up really is a mountainous obstacle to overcome if you want to get in and enjoy it.
It's certainly a good game, but we want to wage war against Sawyer from Lost, not our 360 controller.
- Proudly old-school
- Packed with content
- barely controllable