Nostalgia remains a powerful force, and with Command & Conquer Remastered Collection, EA and Petroglyph Games are banking on that to revive the flailing real-time strategy genre with what is considered one of the grandmasters of them all.
To that end, they have certainly succeeded on the visual front, giving both Command & Conquer: Tiberium Dawn and Red Alert a much needed coat of 4K paint, even if the main gameplay itself reminds us of a relic of the past.
That is not to say it is not good. Considering the first Command & Conquer came out in 1995, it basically birthed many of the ideas and mechanics that its modern counterparts have incorporated as their own. Original C&C developer Westwood Studios was a pioneer, and in Petroglyph Games, that spirit should theoretically stay very much alive.
As we stepped into the conflict between the Brotherhood of Nod and the Global Defense Initiative, or the Allies and the Soviet, plenty of good memories started flooding in. The goofy and campy nature of its campaigns, the colourful characters that were memorable for good and bad reasons, all combined for a modern retelling of old classics.
Command & Conquer Remastered Collection is unapologetically made for fans of the series who are hankering for a taste of the past with higher resolutions and modern comforts. The aforementioned 4K resolution now adds even more details to previously pixellated units; the world is filled with even more colour now and zooming in and out allows players to truly see the hard work put into this remaster for a 2020 debut.
The fact that you can switch between the old and the new graphics just by tapping the spacebar just sweetens the pot. Battles are now made clearer, as you can see which units are involved and exactly what they are doing in the thick of it. The visual upgrade goes further than just gameplay moments, the series’ famous full-motion video sequences have also been upscaled.
The caveat is that there are still limitations, of course. They look fine on first viewing, but it is obvious that it is not perfect for modern standards. Everything feels just a bit off with the upsampling, but at least the humour is not lost.
Throughout Command and Conquer: Tiberian Dawn, Command and Conquer: Red Alert, as well as three expansions — Command and Conquer: The Covert Operations, Red Alert: Counterstrike, and Red Alert: The Aftermath, the rules of victory have not quite changed.
Either you are defending yourself, ensuring a foothold in enemy territory, or discovering certain secrets, gameplay seldom strays from making sure every unit on the opposing side is dead. This is a faithful remaster of the classics, and we can hardly blame the developers for sticking to their guns. However, perhaps switching things up might just break open new ground for a genre that has seen innovations over the years.
You will build your Construction Yard, Power Plants, get your refineries up and running, before churning out your units. The formula certainly is not broken, but it sure can get formulaic after a while. At least the missions that hand you a small army to survive remain as intense as before, or even more. The addition of console exclusive missions found only on the Nintendo 64 and the original PlayStation was a nice touch as well.
Outside of the visuals, Command & Conquer Remastered Collection has also made plenty of strides in redesigning many of the systems under the hood. The much-improved UI takes advantage of increased screen real estate to give you all the building options while maintaining the feel of the original.
When it comes to multiplayer, it is easier than ever before to have everything at your fingertips. From creating lobbies to selecting your factions and AI opponents, everything is simple, intuitive, and straightforward, and it kind of makes you wonder how we survived all those years ago when we did not have the luxury of such easy navigation.
Even though this is an EA game, crossplay between EA’s Origin and Steam users is also possible. While creating a password-protected lobby is still not an option, just being able to have friends join the battle no matter where they purchased the game is a good move nonetheless.
One of the first stops you might want to make is the options menu. A selection of gameplay legacy and modern features can be toggled, allowing for a blend of modern comforts and traditional limitations. Be it a new player or a returning veteran, you are pretty much covered.
The team behind Command & Conquer Remastered Collection has also gone further by remastering all of the music from the original games. Hell March is still a delight in 2020, and there are also 20 tracks completely re-recorded for this remaster. Even unreleased bonus tracks have been included to complete the collection and the fan service is real and much appreciated.
The bonus gallery will also delight fans of the series. Containing many behind-the-scenes videos, images, and interesting tidbits of information, your progress through Command & Conquer Remastered will reward fans with even more awesome stories about this series.
As previously reported, the source code for Command & Conquer Remastered Collection has also been released. Including support and the ability to browse for user mods, fans will also finally get to see their visions come alive. Not only is the community getting a brand new remaster of two games, but the modding community will certainly keep it alive for much longer.
Everything presented in Command & Conquer Remastered Collection is a love letter to fans. It is truly bringing the classics to modern times, taking advantage of improved technology but still maintaining its connections to the past. It would not be a stretch to say that both Petroglyph Games and the supporting Lemon Sky Studios are giving fans what they deserve, and that is rare these days.
Command & Conquer Remastered Collection is a joy to behold, an experience that must be enjoyed by fans of the RTS genre and the series. However, do not be expecting anything groundbreaking gameplay-wise, it is a collection truly made by fans for the fans, and we hope EA continues this lovely treatment for other games in its catalogue.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
An incredible experience, Command & Conquer Remastered Collection leverages on nostalgia and delivers on all fronts, especially if you are a big fan of the series in the first place.
Gameplay - 8/10
Story - 7.5/10
Presentation - 10/10
Value - 10/10