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Publisher: Aspyr Media    Genre: Strategy & War    Expansion For: Command & Conquer: Generals
Min OS X: 10.2.8    CPU: G4 @ 1000 MHz    RAM: 256 MB    Hard Disk: 1600 MB    DVD-ROM    Graphics: 32 MB VRAM

Command & Conquer Generals: Zero Hour
March 8, 2005 | Michael Phillips

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Throughout history, weapons of war have constantly evolved. The Greeks and Romans did battle with chariots and blades. During World War I, biplanes and rifles were all the rage. World War II brought us the atomic bomb, a weapon capable of leveling an entire city with ease. During the Vietnam "police action", fire breathing tanks taught soldiers the importance of Stop, Drop and Roll. As time presses ever forward, weapons become more creative and deadly.

The same thing applies to EA Games' Command & Conquer Generals expansion pack, Zero Hour. Published by the Colonels at Aspyr Media, Command & Conquer Generals Zero Hour adds 30 new units and 20 new upgrades, as well as 3 new single-player campaigns, visual enhancements and an entirely new single-player game mode to the original Command & Conquer Generals game.

Gameplay: I Once Had a War, Or Should I Say It Once Had Me?
Command & Conquer Generals is already a massive real-time strategy (RTS) game, but Zero Hour takes things to the next level. Zero Hour is all about upgrades, giving players a host of new strategic options. There are new tanks, troops, bombs, technologies and even "lasers". That's right, I said, "lasers". However, is this bountiful bevy of beauteous upgrades enough to warrant slamming down $29.95? Short answer, yes with an if… Long answer, no with a but… Am I making any sense? Of course not. Will I ever? Possibly. The only way to know for sure is to read on as I review Command & Conquer Generals: Zero Hour.

The first of which are the new single-player campaigns. Each of the game's 3 factions gets a 5 mission long campaign, for a total of 15 new single-player missions. Each campaign expands on the ongoing war between the forces of the USA, China and the terrorists known as the Global Liberation Army (GLA). The GLA: Liberating the world through terror since 1994. Once again, the game’s story unfolds via in-engine cutscenes, as well as newly added video news reports from each faction’s prevailing news network. While I like the nicely crafted cutsecenes and CNNesque news clips, I do have one minor, yet vexing complaint. These intros cannot be skipped. Thus, if one fails a mission, they must watch the intro again and again and again. Still, players should find these new campaigns both fun and challenging. None of the missions will present players with the typical build here, kill there formula, but rather will give players unique missions with various objectives. For example, one of the GLA missions will involve escorting a GLA leader's armored limousine to a local airport for a quick escape. Another interesting mission will involve leading a group of U.S. soldiers to dismantle GLA fortifications through stealth and covert technology. For instance, Zero Hour will give players the use of Microwave Tanks, a unit capable of literally cooking electrical systems and enemy soldiers quickly and painfully. Thus, said tanks will be perfect for quietly shutting down key enemy positions. China's missions center around recapturing abandoned USA posts from GLA insurgents. One of the campaign's more unique missions will pit players against an onslaught of suicide bombers Hell bent on bringing down a Chinese nuclear reactor. GLA supporters give an entirely new meaning to the phrase, "take one for the team".

As I mentioned, Zero Hour will introduce players to 30 brand new weapons of war, as well as 20 new military upgrades. I will now list each one and then discuss it in a 5 paragraph essay format. So, fetch some hot cocoa or Mountain Dew because... I'm totally kidding! I'm only going to use the less popular 4 paragraph essay format, but I digress.

Players who choose the USA will find that they're all about technology, particularly lasers. The Avenger, for example, uses lasers to "paint" ground and air targets. Once painted, the unfortunate target is more susceptible to fire from surrounding units. The Avenger can also down aircraft with its laser weaponry. Speaking of aircraft, USA players will also have access to the Countermeasures upgrade. When upgraded with appropriate Countermeasures, US aircraft can deftly avoid anti-aircraft fire, such as heat-seeking missiles. US soldiers in Zero Hour will also gain the ability to don Chemical Suits, which act as a buffer against the GLA's multitude of bio-weaponry.

Chinese players gain several new upgrades and weaponry. For instance, the ECM Tank has the ability to disrupt the tracking systems of incoming missiles. Chinese Neutron Mines kill unsuspecting soldiers while leaving buildings and vehicles undamaged. Neat trick, eh? Chinese Generals also gain the ability to Carpet Bomb a designated target area.

GLA fans also have plenty of new toys of terror. The new Combat Cycle is an inexpensive and highly maneuverable vehicle that's perfect for reconnaissance and mowing down enemies on foot. The GLA Battle Bus is a heavily reinforced civilian vehicle that provides for mobile assaults, as well as stationary cover for the troops within. Camo Netting acts as the perfect disguise for GLA Tunnel Networks and Stinger Sites. The GLA also has the ability to disguise their military buildings to look like civilian buildings, therefore adding a new level of surprise to their campaign of terror.


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