Command & Conquer Remastered Collection Preview – The Brotherhood Returns

Apr 28, 2020
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Command & Conquer is the very first strategy game I remember playing. This was before I moved to the PC as my platform of choice and before strategy became my forte, became my go-to genre of choice whenever I'm going to try something new. So yes, the implication is that my first true strategy game is something I played on a console, the PlayStation to be exact, as sinful as that is. Both C&C and Red alert are titles I didn't play on the PC until long after the original release, with me having played them most recently when Command & Conquer: The First Decade came out. The Command & Conquer Remastered collection is something I already know I want.

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Recently I was able to attend a virtual preview session and roundtable with Jim Vasella, the lead producer on Command & Conquer Remastered and check out the upcoming title and I have to say that I'm impressed. Featuring both Tiberian Dawn and Red Alert, two games that are over two decades old, the remastered version contains everything you could imagine for a remastering of the two titles. That is to say that even the elements from the console versions have been brought through.

For those who don't know, both Command & Conquer as well as Red Alert came with both exclusive as well as bonus missions. These could have been missions specifically designed for the consoles, now appearing on PC in the remastered versions, as well as bonus missions which could put you against dinosaurs in Command & Conquer or against giant ants in Red Alert. All of these, as well as missions that featured in expansions, make an appearance here, all given the same remastered approach.

As a matter of fact, not only have exclusive missions being brought from the console version, so have FMV's. Command & Conquer Red Alert: Retaliation was released for the PlayStation in 1998, bringing consoles the expansion packs for the PC version of Red Alert. With retaliation came FMV's before each mission that wasn't present in the expansions of Red Alert on the PC, though they were later made available by modders. These, alongside all FMV's from both games, have had a remastered touch by AI upscaling.

I'm not going to say the FMV's look good in Command & Conquer Remastered because that would be a lie. AI upscaling has certainly made massive improvements but these are videos that were in a resolution that wouldn't even wake my phone up. Looking at a comparison you can see that a before shot looks like a hugely downscaled Minecraft. Now, well they're blurry, but still considerably better than if they had not been tweaked.

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Speaking of tweaking something so it looks better, let's talk about getting onto the battlefield. Petroglyph, founded by former members of Westwood Studios, has worked exceptionally well in updating the game so it looks as good as even some modern strategy games. This is from improving the maps themselves, which was a challenge reportedly due to how the map editor worked with new and improved ground textures, to a huge overhaul of every unit and building.

Also, as a little tweak to the gameplay and visuals, you can now zoom in and out to your heart's content. When you do this you can see the massive improvements and redesigns made to the units. Something that may not be as impressive to most, but I loved, is just how textured the terrain looks now. You've got tank tracks in the worn ground, you've got Tiberium, ore and crystals visibly popping out of the ground. It's a level of detail that just brings the game to the modern era.

More than this, even the sidebar within a match and the menu's on the main screen and beyond have all been improved to aid in appearance and functionality. For example, when selecting a mission in the original Command & Conquer (maybe Red Alert too? I can't remember) you could select between multiple missions when moving forward in your story. Here, the game will keep track of this and also make it easier for you to go back if you like, even trying the varying missions that you didn't select.

As much as I am a member of the brotherhood and enjoy following Kane's commands, Command & Conquer isn't just about the single-player and story. So how has petroglyph brought the rest of the game to the modern era? Interesting you should ask that, good reader. They've done this my making sweeping improvements both to skirmish and multiplayer.

First and foremost, the inclusion of Skirmish in Tiberian Dawn (the first C&C) in Command & Conquer Remastered is a brand new addition as it wasn't in the original. The skirmish mode here, as well as the one in Red Alert, have all of the options you would expect them to have, letting you manage teams and difficulty, as well as featuring improved AI across the board.

For multiplayer, the system has been completely remade, letting you create and host custom games, letting you make whatever changes in the settings you like. Naturally, as with the rest of the game, the menu's here have been redesigned and cleaned up to improve usability. As well as setting up your own game, there will also be a 1v1 deathmatch system featuring a matchmaking system and leaderboard. I guarantee I'll be somewhere close to the top middle of that. All of this is supported by dedicated systems.

What I haven't covered yet is the fact that multiplayer will also feature a replay system, letting you go back and look at your battles, find out where you went right or wrong, maybe compile videos of your best battles for YouTube. I don't know what you cool kids do these days. The multiplayer will also allow people to spectate live games, with a slight delay, which will be very useful if Command & Conquer Remastered moves into eSports.

Frankly, from everything I've seen and heard about Command & Conquer Remastered, it's looking like one of the most complete remasters you could want. I haven't even mentioned that the voice actor for AVA has come back and recorded all-new high definition lines or that Frank Klepacki and his band The Tiberian Sons have recorded tracks for the collection. Also, there is a music library, as well as other bonuses, so you can listen, watch and read so much about the history of the games.

I hadn't mentioned them, but I have now. Honestly, I can't think of much more to say other than this already looks like it contains fantastic remasters of two of the biggest games in RTS history. Releasing in a little over a month, on June the 5th, Command & Conquer Remastered will also only cost £17.99 or $19.99 on Steam or Origin.

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