Every now and again, I remember why I like real-time strategy games so much. Now that the advancing horde of unholy clones has all but been demolished, there's a much more refined, strategically sound, and quality bunch of titles in this genre coming out. Quality, not quantity, I say. And a great example of this is the beautifully designed Command & Conquer Generals
that has certainly put me back in the strategy saddle. Before we get to the meat of the review, be sure to check out our exclusive video review of the game as well. Generals
takes a big step back from the Command & Conquer
series of old, focusing not on the machinations of one evil man with a super evil plan, but instead on more "realistic" global issues of today while maintaining the creativity and fun of unit and weapon design the series has always had. The game focuses on the growing threat of the Global Liberation Army (GLA). Both China and the US are having problems with the group that sees both of the superpowers as a threat to their freedom. The imperialist scum must all die. Through the three campaigns and multiplayer battles, you'll have the chance to fight to save the world from the terrorist threat or bring a whole lot of pain to the world via a rather large toxic payload.
Westwood and EA decided to move away from the silly cutscenes of old and instead stick with a more mature style. All scenes use the in game engine to good effect although they use a Matrix style camera for too many of the explosions. There are no main characters to fart around with this time around, instead focusing on the war and the fact that while there are heroes, it's no one man or woman that conquers the enemy. It's a good move for the series and while some people might miss past attempts at character driven fiction, Generals
manages to stay true to the series with its gameplay and faction styles.
In order to keep the game from being a resource management exercise, all sides dip into the same pool by gathering supplies located in dumps around each map. US uses Chinook transport choppers, China uses supply trucks, and the GLA uses forced labor. Each faction also has extra ways of bringing in cash so the money never stops completely flowing meaning games will always continue to be interesting even after the supplies have run dry. Airdrops, theft and salvage all bring in good amounts of cash. While the US has the potential to make the most money with several air drop sites, China can steal it with their hero and make money with computer hackers and the GLA has the chance to scavenge money from the carcasses of their enemies. While you do
fight over resources, worrying about your tactical decisions is much more important. Because the resources are centered in certain areas, it's much easier to concentrate on what's happening to
your troops and bases.