Fans of real-time strategy games were excited last year when Electronic Arts announced that a Command & Conquer remaster was on the way.
This classic 1995 game let players control armies on the battlefield including soldiers, tanks and other vehicles, each side building bases and gathering resources in order to gain the upper edge and demolish their opponent.
The game pitted the GDI (Global Defense Initiative) vs the Brotherhood of Nod, an evil paramilitary group run by a madman called Kane, and told its story across several missions for each side, featuring live action video with real actors.
Command & Conquer sure is a classic game and one of the most fondly remembered releases of the 90’s, so it makes sense that many were happy to hear that a remaster is in the works at Petroglyph Games and Lemon Sky Studios, being made by the same people who brought the world the original game.
Sadly, though, we hadn’t seen much of the Command & Conquer remaster since its announcement last November, but thankfully EA has posted a video on its website (via Eurogamer) which shows 30 seconds of gameplay of the upcoming remaster.
The video also showcases an interesting feature of the Command & Conquer remaster: the ability to switch between the original graphics and the new, high definition visuals. This is something which has become commonplace in remastered editions of games such as StarCraft and Grim Fandango, and which will be one of the key features of this new edition of Command & Conquer.
“This means at any time when playing a Campaign mission, you can tap a single key to smoothly toggle between the original assets at 320 x 200, to the Remastered assets up to 3840 x 2160”, said producer Jim Vessella on EA’s website. “Along with the real-time toggling, you’ll have the ability to zoom the camera to take in all the high definition detail, with an effective zoom distance between the DOS and C&C Gold camera heights”, added Vessella.
Watching this video though, I can’t help but notice how dated Command & Conquer’s visuals look, even the new, high-definition remastered ones. Granted, this is a remaster (and not a remake as the authors point out on EA’s page) of a 1995 game, so obviously one should not expect to see cutting edge graphics here.
But some stuff like explosions look really stone age by today’s standards, and it’s jarring to see buildings on fire disappear all of a sudden when hit by a tank shell or gunfire – 2007’s Command & Conquer 3 is way ahead when it comes to visuals than this, so I don’t know what gamers accustomed to modern graphics will make of this Command & Conquer remaster (what will they make of the game’s cheesy cutscene videos – in which a character or two is played by one of the game’s programmers – is another matter…).
Also, unit animations look really stiff overall, but line up nicely with what was seen in the original game though.
Granted, the developers are aiming for authenticity here, and watching this video does remind me of my time with Command & Conquer back in the 90’s – but also of how much things have moved on graphically speaking since then.
Nonetheless, this is still a work in progress and the final product might look better than what’s seen here. Plus, it’s clear that Command & Conquer Remastered (which also includes its classic follow-up Red Alert) is aimed mainly at those who played the original games back in the day, who will be seeing this through the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia anyway.
But I would have pretty much preferred EA put in the funds and remade these classic games with modern visuals, something I (and no doubt many other Command & Conquer fans) would be willing to pay full price for.