The Command & Conquer Remaster Is Just Excellent

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The Command & Conquer Remaster Is Just Excellent

It’s 2020 and I’m writing about a) EA re-releasing Command & Conquer and b) absolutely recommending everyone buy it. What a strange timeline we live in.

Launching on Steam and Origin over the long weekend, Petroglyph and Lemon Sky Studios — the latter isn’t credited on the Steam page, but they worked on the remaster’s FX, UI, animation and concept artCommand & Conquer: The Remastered Collection has that all-too rare quality. Precisely everything EA and Petroglyph promised they’d do, the remaster delivers.

It’s the original Command & Conquer, along with Red Alert and all the expansions for both games. You can play in the original blocky sprites, or switch to crisp high-def with a tap of the space bar:

Of course, you’ll want to play in HD all the time. There’s more visibility, it’s easier to spot ahead and plan what you’re doing, and it just looks so damn good.

Command & Conquer or Red Alert plays the same as they did in the ’90s. The attack-move button is still fiddly, with units taking an age to shoot at enemies in range unless they’re directly told to. The unit pathing is still pretty rough too. Tanya will absolutely get her arse shredded by dogs if you’re not paying attention.

There’s some concessions on the control front, necessitated by all the excellent work the OpenRA team has done over the years. You can at least have right-mouse as your attack/move button and enable things like unit queuing, which is an absolute lifesaver.

None of that is going to stop the AI from cheating relentlessly on harder difficulties and skirmish mode, though, but that’s part of the charm.

As you play through, you’ll unlock extra surprises in the gallery. Some of these are just the ability to see how much work was done on remastering the original FMVs, like the opening Allies mission:

And there’s this behind the scenes shot from the filming of the original intro, where Einstein travels back in time to greet Hitler and change the course of history:

Equal treatment has been given to both games, so if you were a bigger fan of NOD’s silly bullshit than the Soviet march across Europe, you’ll be well served either way.

But you know what the best part of the remaster is? It’s the bit they didn’t tell anyone about: the intros. Naturally, the game’s gotten a graphical upgrade. But Petroglyph and Lemon Sky Studios obviously decided to have some fun, so they created an in-universe explanation for why everything looks better. It’s a homage to the original installation program for both games, and it’s a wonderful throwback.

Just fantastic.

Also, and this will probably be most people’s favourite, but the soundtrack and voiceovers have been given a touch of love too. That’s what’s truly special, since it’s those classic tracks, starting with Hell March, that really have the most nostalgic power. There’s an option in the menu screen to replay the original (or classic) versions of tracks, and you can compare them with the remastered tracks.

They’re both great, but obviously the remastered versions have a depth and presence that’s unbeatable. Having access to both the same way you can switch graphics by hitting the space bar, however, is the best.

Command & Conquer: Remastered Collection is available now on Steam for $30. Sure, you could get the whole experience by downloading OpenRA, and you’ll get access to different C&C games like Tiberian Dawn or the Dune 2000 remake. And there’s an attack-move button there too.

But if you love this stuff, you should support the remaster. It shows publishers just how worthwhile going through their back catalogue is. EA did just about everything right here: they picked the right studio, they made the game open-source before it was released, they’ve fully supported mods with Steam Workshop support, and they even went and redid some of the original FMV and VO when they couldn’t find it.

That’s what modern publishers should do. And when you remember just how much gameplay you’re getting here, $30 is solid value. Remember: these games were hard back in the day. Partially because the unit pathing and AI was garbage, but it was still a ton of fun.

Plus, if this is a big hit, other studios might start taking their remasters seriously — or looking for other opportunities. Now, who’s got the license to Dark Reign?

Comments

  • Can’t find my original C&C disc just now, but Red Alert‘s sitting here. Awesome games then, when played on my 486 DX4-100…

    • I have the C&C plus Covert Operations discs and it was a happy day when I found out you could put the Covert Ops disc in a CD player and play a number of tracks from the game.

  • It’s a nice reminder of a time when EA were actually a good publisher that put out some very good IP before it all fell apart.

    Desert Strike remaster next, please.

    • Oh man, I was watching a longplay of Desert Strike just last weekend! I miss that series so much. Simple, but solid.

    • Wouldn’t say it’s a reminder, it’s totally irrelevant to EA for the time. The command and conquer games were all Westwood’s beautiful work, EA bought Westwood, got a few more good Command and conquer games out of them (Tiberium Sun, Red Alert 2, CnC 3) Then EA did their usual sh*t and ruined it. Generals was ok, but it wasn’t command and conquer, but it was good, but even then they started to screw up (zero hour). The reason this is good, is because the CnC community helped and some of the original devs worked on it. This wasn’t EA getting it done, this was literally EA just letting it happen (they don’t care now, they know they fkd the brand). LONG LIVE THE OG C&C’s

      • Oh crap, I just said I kind of liked C&C4, what I meant was 3! >.< I thought the final NOD one with aliens was 4.

  • Launching on Steam and Origin over the long weekend…Wait wait. It’s possible for games to launch on more than one platform and *not* be exclusive to one for an extended period of time? They must be keeping up the blast from the past theme there.

    Tongue out of cheek, C&C was my introduction to the world of RTS and I will never forget the iconic opening of the first GDI mission where the music kicks in as your units come ashore. I agree that we need a Dark Reign remaster because that was my second RTS and I would spend hours coming up with mission ideas and designs because of its level editor. None of them ever got made but my imagination was ignited by it.

  • The E.V.A. installation hit me in the nostalgiafeels in a way I didn’t expect. I teared up a little when she said, “Welcome back, Commander.” The way the original went through selecting and testing your graphics and soundcard were super immersive and really impressive back in the day, and I’d honestly forgotten that processed even occurred.

    I couldn’t be happier with the remaster. This is precisely, 100% how a remaster should be done. I will ALWAYS feel good about putting my money to this kind of behaviour.

    • same i was having tears of joy well up when i first launched the Tiberium Dawn. Also @alexwalker, how dare you forget to mention the awesome soundtracks. there is over 190 music tracks, both original, remastered and remixed to listen to with everyones favorites getting bonus updated remixes by Frank Klepacki and the Tiberium Suns

  • Apparently the AI has been tweaked as some of the *cough*exploits*cough* involving having a unit at the top of the map to eat all the airstrikes no longer works.

  • This brought back so many memories, including the annoyance of building buildings next to each other or making sandbag walls 1/2 way across the map to block AI

  • I’m hoping this remaster gets enough sales to justify a RA2 remaster. That game is so good but it doesn’t play nice with today’s systems.

    • Pretty well much any C&C except RA4/C&C4 don’t play nicely sadly. Generals you can fix with community support fairly well, but RA2\TS\EoD\C&C3 all are crap to get working sadly.

      • I had CC2 running on Origin on the weekend, all I had to do was type HIRES on the title screen and it got running in 1920×1080 for me? That’s been an old, weird, code in it since release. I mean it’s sort of true it doesn’t play nice, but it still runs ok.

        The *primary* issue with CC2 is the draw rate, you have to download a mod to get it to draw the 2d sprites properly in 1920×1080 or the slowdown is a bitch. You can find the file on youtube in any video about running it in hires.

        Apparently they still have the code somewhere for CCRA2, I’d love to see a remaster like this for it, it’s the one game of the lot that plays the best, that’s for sure.

        CC3 plays perfectly fine with Windows 10 by the way. 🙂

  • Can anyone tell me if I buy this on steam do I still need to launch origin to play it? If I need to launch origin for the steam version I will just buy it on origin to reduce the amount of launchers I need to have open.

    • Runs direct from Steam, didn’t see Origin appear once. Though really, if it’s the same or cheaper on Origin, that probably would’ve been the better place to buy it, just to reward EA for not fucking it up this time.

  • Yep. This is a remaster done right. Just like Starcraft Remastered and nothing like the fucking disaster that is Warcraft 3 reforged.

      • Dude, it’s 29.95 for both games, all expansions, all console missions, entirely remastered music, upgraded video… 29.95 is too much to reward them for a brilliant product?

        Fuck me sideways. Skip a pizza or something.

  • You still don’t have access to an attack-move button

    Uh… yes you do? Click on the options to change controls to ‘Modern’, you’ve even got an image of it *right there* in your article!

    • That’s attack or move; it’s not a proper attack-move in the same way most RTS games have. The units don’t properly attack enemies when they come into range, often getting much closer than is necessary before stopping and shooting, which is why I made the Tanya quip. You have to manually attack enemies if you want them to start firing at full range.

      It’s aggravating, but it’s also how the original game played.

  • Only 2 things suck in the remaster:

    * Saving – You can’t save to a specific save slot anymore. So every new save is a separate save file. So if you save a lot you’ll end up with HEAPS of save files.
    * Can’t put a unit building on hold unless it’s the only one left

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