Hello all! I wrote a joke article last week. Don’t play that game. Seriously.
This week brings us to an oldie, and it was my first experience with a real-time-strategy title.
Command & Conquer is, by modern RTS standards, an antique. RTS gamers of today, unfamiliar with C&C, would be perplexed and probably amused by the game’s relative simplicity, yet back in the day, there was nothing better. Quite literally, as the RTS field was sparse back then, with Dune II and WarCraft being the only other options. I didn’t play either of those back then; I was instead exposed to C&C at a friend’s house.
C&C is about two factions, the Global Defense Inititave and the Brotherhood of Nod. They fight each other. That’s basically the plot, but it’s told in glorious 90's live action cutscenes that are just the best. Live action cutscenes generally (and especially in this case) carry a certain amount of cheese, but they work.
C&C is, like I said earlier, an extremely simple real-time strategy title when compared to today’s games. But remember—like a lot of people, this was my first experience with a game like this. I struggle to remember what I was playing way back in 1995 (Super Nintendo games, definitely), but I can’t remember any sort of involved strategy title making its way into my play rotation. Needless to say, C&C was confusing. I mean, here I am, wanting to just shoot and blow up things...and I can’t, because I need to build soldiers and a base and harvest Tiberium, and, and, and...
So, what first seemed like, as my father would often call them, a “blow ‘em up good” type of game ended up being a slow burn. You didn’t get to just blow shit up...and therein lies what made C&C so great.
Because you had to earn it. Defeating a boss in DOOM largely entailed shooting it while not getting shot yourself. Completeing a level in any Super Mario game involves skill and timing your jumps correctly. Nothing wrong with that at all. But C&C was the first time I played a game that required planning. I had to play the long game; I needed to identify the problem and work out a solution. I had to track enemy movements. I had to carefully manage my units and vehicles and keep track of what unit is strongest against the enemy unit. And, this being a real-time strategy title, meant I had to do all this quickly.
It was a new experience, and honsetly, it was one I had to warm up to. Being a silly kid meant I craved a certain degree of immediacy in my games. I was used to pressing A to jump, and B to shoot. I played the occasional RPG, but nothing too complex. In other words, I wasn’t used to thinking—I mean, really thinking about how to win. It’s quite a different experience than, say, solving a puzzle in Zelda, for example. See, that’s an immediate problem right in front of you. C&C demanded I solve a problem that hadn’t occurred yet, or might not ever occur.
And then there’s the moment when your plan comes together, when you win. There was nothing quite like it; for the first time (as far as I can remember), my completion of a level was due to something other than reflexes or luck. It was because I formulated a plan and executed it, and covered my bases. And because of that, I won.
C&C is the reason I love strategy games (my all time favorite being Homeworld). There’s really nothing like defeating an opponent based on your smarts and careful planning. Perhaps C&C is completely out of date and too old, but the original is still a blast, and Mechanical Man is still an awesomely bad song. Check it out, and (random thought inbound) also play Universe at War, because that game is a riot.
Thanks for reading! Find me on Twitter, if that’s your thing.
Next week brings us to a game about dragons that most people hated. I didn’t, so we’ll talk about it.