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Publisher: Aspyr Media    Genre: Strategy & War
Min OS X: 10.2.6    CPU: G4 @ 1000 MHz    RAM: 256 MB    Hard Disk: 1600 MB    DVD-ROM    Graphics: 32 MB VRAM

Command & Conquer: Generals
April 20, 2004 | Dakota Brown

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And now, the playground
Generals sports a campaign for each of the major players weighing in at seven levels a piece. Each mission could have easily been a case of find and eliminate the enemy in the provided map. While there is some of that, thought has been put into each scenario to keep players from falling into a rut. US and Chinese missions are fairly orthodox in nature. However variety is injected by placing multiple objectives in each map. For example, US forces are required to rescue downed pilots before eradicating the enemy base, or Chinese forces must brace against a GLA onslaught before they, in-turn, eradicate the enemy base. The GLA scenarios are without a doubt the most fun. With missions that include assassinating civilian targets and blowing up dams, the GLA campaign is a refreshing break sandwiched between the other two campaigns.

One of my few points of criticism is that some of the campaign maps may be over-designed. I realize that the Chinese forces are most effective when rolling in numbers over the enemy, but this doesn’t have to be the only solution the map allows. It is a very small criticism, but one that does affect replay value.

Recent RTS games have made resource management a game unto itself. Thankfully, this isn’t the case with Generals. The only resource you have to manage is the acquisition of supplies, which is translated into money to spend on units and buildings. Additionally, if you are the US or Chinese, you need to worry about building and defending nuclear power plants for many of your units and buildings to operate. Don’t forget the “and defend” part either. There is nothing more gratifying than launching a killer strike against US power plants and rendering half their force inoperational.

Difficulty levels range from “Normal” to “Brutal.” Normal is challenging, but not that hard. There really isn’t a reason for an experienced RTS player to lose on normal. That however, is not true for the brutal settings. In brutal mode, the enemy artificial intelligence (AI) uses most units to their full extensions and makes good use of seemingly endless resources. Finishing Generals on the brutal setting is a true accomplishment, but not impossible.

While the enemy AI does all right for itself, I couldn’t always say the same for the AI of my own units. Often I would find that a unit wouldn’t automatically defend itself when fired upon. This happened even when said unit was in guard mode. This isn’t a major error, but a periodically frustrating one none-the-less.

Additionally frustrating, at times, was troop control. Warcraft III players will pick up on this one almost immediately. When selecting multiple units, the only way to tell that you had selected them was by the life bar above each unit. While this allows you to select all the units you want at once, given what Blizzard has shown us for their RTS games, I expected something better. Generals also follows the old-school way of thinking that the left button of the mouse is for selecting and directing a unit and that the right button is only for deselecting your units. This becomes harrowing when you order units to attack and have to kick yourself later when they go somewhere else because you forgot to deselect them after giving your order. The icing on the disappointment cake is that the game does not allow you to remap mouse buttons or key commands.

Multiplayer C&C:G: Kill-fest 04 (by Michael "the Desert Queen" Phillips)
Back in the day on my Power Mac 7200, nothing beat a fast paced game of Command & Conquer. Thankfully, multiplayer Generals feels nearly identical, minus a few small issues. Like the original, multiplayer C&C:G is a fast paced kill-fest. It’s very important to build an army as quickly as possible, or else things get messy. Early rushes are common place in C&C:G, but they’re also easy to prevent. There’s nothing more satisfying than knocking out an enemy’s power plants within the first 5 minutes of a battle. The name of the game is speed.

Up to 8 players can battle it out in C&C:G via LAN, TCP/IP or GameRanger (GR). Due to Windows networking issues, cross-platform multiplayer support was impossible. Playing on GameRanger is a tad flakey at times; players would sometimes be unable to connect for no apparent reason. Also, if one starts a game on GR with 5 players, but had previously selected a 4 player map, that 5th player will be unable to connect. I find it best to gather folks on GR and then hand out my IP address for players to connect via TCP/IP. These issues aside, multiplayer Command & Conquer: Generals rocks.


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