Command & Conquer: Generals & Zero Hour Expansion
When I first loaded up “C&C” back in the mid 1990’s, I was blown away. After all, there was a MAN talking to me on my screen and not some pixelated gibberish. “Rebel Assault 2” topped the cake in regards to full motion video at the time, but I was still impressed that my mission briefings in “C&C” were recorded by an actual actor. No, really kids, that’s how it WAS back in my day. At any rate, “Command & Conquer: Generals” became my favorite entry in the series, especially once I got my hands on the “Zero Hour” expansion. Why? So glad you asked.
The main menu gives the player access to either the campaign, skirmish maps, or challenges. The options menu is pretty hefty for an older game, though the screen resolution will only take you so far. The campaign is broken up into three separate parts: USA, China, and GLA. Both the core game and the “Zero Hour” expansion feature their own campaigns, so definitely load up the original stuff before you play the “Zero Hour” missions. Skirmishes can be played online or offline, with players being able to choose the map, faction, starting location, and color. Challenge mode puts the player one on one with an AI opponent, but the map is pre-scripted and pre-populated with enemy units.
“Command & Conquer: Generals”, for those of you who have never played the game or heard of the series, is a real-time strategy game similar to “Warcraft”. No, not “World of Warcraft” (damn you, kids), “Warcraft”. In most games, you are given a very small base with the goal of mining resources and constructing new buildings to expand your military might. You can opt to build defenses and various units with which to attack the enemy, though your primary goal will be the same every time, be the last man (or woman) standing. For those of you who are vets to the series, you’ll be pleased to know that you can construct buildings anywhere you wish. Some of the other “C&C” games limited you to constructing new buildings within a certain radius of your base.
I think what attracts me to this game so much is the differences between the three factions. The USA faction is a good, all-around faction with access to modern-day technology. Their superweapon is a laser that can rain death from above, but they also feature flying units and fairly powerful factory units. To assist with their income, they have a supply drop building that unloads supplies/money every so often. The China faction has the best tanks in the game and a nuclear missile as its superweapon. They too, have flying units and can earn money by employing hackers who steal funds from the internet. The GLA have no flying units, but do have a SCUD missile launcher as their superweapon. Their units are cheaper overall and they can employ some nasty tricks/traps to turn the tide into their favor. There’s so much more I didn’t cover here, like how their respective construction units and defenses work, but you get the idea.
The “Zero Hour” expansion adds three sub-factions to each of the primary powers. Each sub-faction has a unique set of units that further change how the faction might be played. The units of the toxin general, for example, use deadly toxin chemicals in place of bullets. The USA’s air general have specialized and more powerful air units, but have less power on the ground. Each sub-faction has their own set of strengths and weaknesses and I have to say, they are very noticeable. This, in my opinion, provides a ton of replayability, especially in skirmishes and challenges. If I’m feeling stealthy, I might opt for the GLA’s stealth general and camouflage all of my buildings and units. If I’m feeling like I want to just nuke someone, China’s nuke general fits the bill nicely.
Overall, this game remains to be one of my favorite RTS games to date. That says a lot, considering the sheer number of RTS games out there. There’s a lot to see and do, not to mention that combat is fluid and a heck of a lot of fun. You can find this game, along with most of the others released prior, in the “First Decade” pack that you might find lying around on store shelves. If you are an avid RTS fan and haven’t played this game yet, do so. It still holds up relatively well, despite its age, and is well worth your time.
Final Verdict: 9/10
You can view video play sessions here: