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 Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars
It's been almost a decade since the fate of the free world was first challenged by the insidious terrorist forces of the Brotherhood of Nod and a few good men (That's you and me) were first tasked to defeat this terrible evil and lead the Global Defence Initiative to victory. Alright, so I've never been a particularly die-hard supporter of Nod but still, this review will put aside their evil plans for our doom and focus on the game. However if you're one of those people who eschew the GDI in favour of sneaking across the lands on your belly like a slithering snake, I'll see you on the multiplayer and crush your filthy Nod carcass beneath the mighty tracks of my Mammoth tank!

Command & Conquer: Tiberium Wars is now the fifth stand-alone game in Westwood/EA's C&C series; but it's actually somewhat unique in the series for being the first game after the unusual "Renegade" which returns to the traditional RTS heartland of the C&C universe. Whether you loved "Renegade" for its departure from the norm or hated it for its abandoning of C&C's glorious principles in favour of using a well-known gaming universe to sell a type of game not associated with it for the purpose of shameless cashing-in most people I've asked seem to universally welcome a solid and Command and Conquer-esque new edition. However Westwood and EA have paid the price for perhaps dallying a little in the time between "Renegade" and "Tiberium Wars" and the RTS genre hadn't been entirely silent whilst waiting for "Tiberium Wars" to appear. The disappointing "Shattered Union" might have seemed to indicate they had all the time in the world, but Chris Taylor's excellent "Supreme Commander" has received much plaudits across the gaming spectrum and quite rightly so for bringing the majority of the aspects of the classic Total Annihilation (Glory to the Core!) into the modern day--clearly C&C III could not rely simply on the fact it existed to do well like a certain brand of sports games do; it would have to deliver.

The wait was worth any apprehension however; C&C III is a more-than-worthy addition to its series--a major improvement on graphics and gameplay that expertly retains all the hallmarks of the legacy from Orcas to the Ion Cannon. Even that seductively feminine computer whose monotone heralds the firing of GDI's legendary super-weapon is back, with a couple of famous faces for "Tiberium Wars" famous FMV sequences. Let me just add at this point how much of a fan I am of FMV being kept alive. In this new era of game-engine driven cut scenes and an industry feeling that FMV was somehow unworthy of modernity or otherwise a relic (Come on who didn't enjoy the all-FMV X-Files game back in the day?) it's refreshing that EA continued Westwood's appreciation of the cinematic experience they provide.

As I mentioned previously, a couple of relatively famous stars are present in the game. For Nod (Boo!) these include the lovely Tricia Heifer; Number Six on Battlestar Galactica (So say we all!), Josh Holloway; starring in Lost, and the legendary Joseph Kucan as Kane. GDI call on Grace Park; Number Three on Battlestar Galactica, Michael Ironside (I only have one rule! …); often remembered from Starship Troopers and Billy Dee Williams; Star Wars--need I say anything else? The presence of such an arrangement of quality actors allows for an incredibly immersive and telling storyline. All this is more proof that a disembodied voice-over with an in-game cutscene render can't match FMV for use in storylines. Something Shattered Union could have learned to overcome the mind-numbing repetition that made the game a shadow of what it could have been whilst we were all waiting for "Tiberium Wars".

The gameplay of "Tiberium Wars" is everything you've come to expect with the buildings, units and vehicles of the series ever-present. From Power Plants to Engineers, from Mammoth tanks to Orcas. To keep things fresh new elements are added, such as the heavily-armoured Zone Troopers packing portable rail guns and jump packs. The step-up in graphics allows for the battlefield to take on step closer to visible reality with buildings and environments dependent on their classification; Red Zones are Tiberium-infested hells incapable of supporting life whilst the Yellow Zones are war zones filled with Tiberium, death and Nod. Only the Blue Zones in the game are relatively untouched and zealously guarded by GDI--representing a mere 30% of the Earth's surface.

The battle for the Earth has entered endgame in "Tiberium Wars". With the dreaded alien substance now present on 70% of the Earth's surface, The Brotherhood of Nod reappear after decades of inactivity and silence to launch a devastating new strike for the world and her people. Caught by surprise and almost wiped out by the initial onslaught, only the Global Defence Initiative stands between the Earth and Nod and their bizarre, new overseers …

Whilst that description may sound a tired cliché in the RTS genre, it's a credit to the latest incarnation of the series that a prospective player gives little thought to said cliché as they're playing their way through the game. The most striking point of "Tiberium Wars" is that whilst the entire point of an RTS is the anticipation of the battle, one will find themselves looking forward to the next cutscene; how have your efforts hindered or helped humanity? What new unit, or power, or ability will be granted to you? And when will you finally wipe the evil Kane form the face of the Earth?

Running requirements for the game are essentially true (for once) of the case labelling. I ran the game on a Dell XPS M1710 as it stands from the factory, without any issues and without any tweaking. The occasional stutter may appear at these settings (The Ion Cannon comes to mind) however this may be down to myself not playing with the hardware settings and just concentrating on the game!

9 out of 10

Buy Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars now at Play.com
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