If we can legitimately consider Dune II as the true precursor of the RTS genre, the first Command & Conquer are undoubtedly among the pioneers. The saga began in 1995 and will play a major role in the following years, alongside Warcraft, Age of Empires, and Total Annihilation. Twenty-five years later, the idea of a remaster is obviously relevant. And we can immediately reassure players who have been recently traumatized by Warcraft III Reforged: this time, the original work and the fans have been totally respected!
And that respect, you can feel it right from the very first intro cutscene, which features a beautiful vintage Westwood logo and actually pays homage to the DOS install sequence of 1995.
It features the same visuals, as well as ‘a real-false sound card setting, while the file copy phase is replaced by a phase simulating improved graphics and audio. The tone is set: this remaster is primarily aimed at old-timers, for whom a nod to the terms “Port, IRQ and DMA” means something. As for you youngsters, we let you ask uncle Google what it is. In reality, we are even entitled to two sequences of this type, since this collection includes both Command & Conquer Tiberian Dawn (Command and Conquer: The Tiberium Conflict in France) and Command and Conquer: Red Alert.
The first comes accompanied by its unique expansion, The Covert Operations, while the second does not forget the add-ons Counterstrike and The Aftermath (better known here under the strange names of Missions Taïga and Missions MAD). The entire first generation of Command & Conquer is therefore grouped together here. And the developers really haven’t done it by halves, since we can also enjoy the missions and cutscenes that were once exclusive to the Nintendo 64 and PlayStation versions of the two main games. Even the expansion’s secret “Dinosaurs” and “Ants” missions are there, hidden somewhere in the menus.
WELCOME BACK ORDER!
We will not make you the affront to detail in this test the universe of the two games (futuristic for the first, retro-futuristic for the second), their scenarios (GDI against NOD, on the one hand, Allies against Soviets of the other), let alone their gameplay. Because not only are these games cult, but they have laid the foundations for the entire RTS genre.
Gathering resources, constructing buildings, deploying troops, a fog of war and all the fuss, you’ve got to know the song. We still find with pleasure some specificities not always seen elsewhere, such as crushing the infantry with the Tiberium harvesting trucks or the ability of a simple engineer to capture an enemy building instantly. Has the gameplay aged? Yes, of course, but not in an awkward way. We rediscover with pleasure an entire part of the history of video games. Moreover, the developers have thought of offering modernized controls (and optional for purists who would like to keep the original controls).
In particular, it is possible to use the right mouse button to attack and move rather than the left button. The options menu even offers the possibility of “mixing” the modernized parameters and the old ones. For example, you can put several units in the production queue while preventing the map’s scrolling with the mouse. On the other hand, the game imposes on us a new main interface … and we will not find many people to complain about!
The graphics were also given a big blow of polish! The game now supports high resolutions (up to 4K), and all 2D sprites have been completely reworked accordingly. The 1995 pixel porridge gives way to very clean units and decor elements, easily recognizable, faithful to the original work, and on which you can now zoom in if you wish.
The game is much more readable than before, and you need to press the Space key to be convinced. This command allows you to alternate at any time and instantly between the vintage graphics and the remastered version. A function that should be imposed in any modernized capacity, because it allows both to admire the work accomplished, to rekindle nostalgia if desired, and check the fidelity of the remaster. Moreover, we regret that this before / after a button is not available during the cutscenes, because these full-screen videos, emblematic of the Command & Conquer series, have also been reworked. Alas, the developers failed to get their hands on the original tapes.
Therefore, they were forced to use artificial intelligence to increase the resolution and fluidity of the videos of the time. Depending on the plans, this technique sometimes gives very satisfactory and sometimes slightly disappointing results. No miracle on the horizon, then, but in all cases, video interlacing, extreme pixelation, and 15 frames per second are now a thing of the past.
Unlike other remasters (yes Warcraft III Reforged, we’re thinking of you), this Command & Conquer Remastered Collection keeps all of its promises and constantly seeks to please fans. Moreover, the developers involved their community as soon as the project was announced, and really took player feedback into account.
This is how we end up with a ton of bonuses and great ideas! The “bonus gallery” alone houses unseen photos and four hours of rush videos. The Jukebox section offers us 7 hours of remastered music, as well as the possibility of creating our own playlist. And we could also talk about the mission editor, the skirmish mode added to the first episode, online rankings, observer mode, replays, mod support, passing part of the source code under the GPL license, or even the mission selection tool. (which allows, in particular, to test alternative routes during branching levels, or simply to replay old campaign missions, which was not possible before).
In short, as the other would say: welcome, Commander!