|This article is written from a real world point of view.|
Command & Conquer (abbreviated as C&C or CnC) is a real-time strategy franchise created by Joseph Bostic, Eydie Laramore and Brett Sperry. The games are divided to the universes to which they belong to: Tiberium Universe, Red Alert Universe, and Generals Universe. The Generals universe is not connected to the other two, while the first Red Alert was originally intended as a prequel to the Tiberium saga, and is hence arguably considered a part of both.
The Command & Conquer games belong to the real-time strategy genre, with the exception of the first-person shooter Renegade. The specific faction campaigns in most titles are mutually exclusive, with the exceptions being Tiberian Sun: Firestorm and Tiberium Wars. All games in the series, with the exception of Red Alert 3: Uprising, featured multiplayer modes.
All Command & Conquer real-time strategy games, except Generals and its Zero Hour expansion, have featured the "sidebar" for navigation and control, as opposed to many other similar games where the control bar is located on the bottom of the screen.
Command & Conquer gameplay typically requires the player to construct a base and acquire resources, in order to fund the ongoing production of various types of forces with which to assault and conquer the opponent's base. All available structures of the faction chosen by the player are constructed on-site at so-called "construction yard" - which typically begin as large-sized vehicles capable of deploying themselves into the aforementioned construction yards, called MCVs or Mobile Construction Vehicle. When a construction yard has finished building a new structure, the player can select a spot near to a preexisting structure in order to place it, where the prefabricated building will then rapidly unfold in a distinctive manner.
In all games in the series except Generals and Zero Hour, funds are acquired by specialized "harvester" units which bring their cargo (Tiberium for the Tiberium series of games or ore or the more valuable gems for the Red Alert series) to a "refinery" structure. This in turn will convert the raw material into usable resources, expressed as credits. The raw materials themselves, in games released before Red Alert 2, as well as Tiberium Wars, require storage space in the form of refineries and, in the case of excess, "storage silo" structures.
All factions have structures and units with similar functions at their disposal. However, they are adjusted to fit each faction's theme and have somewhat varying properties. Units can be classified into infantry, vehicles, and aircraft, each with their own subdivisions (note: in the Red Alert series there is also naval craft available). Unit effectiveness against opponents follows the rock-paper-scissors (intransitivity) principle found in most real-time strategy games.
Virtually every type of structure in the series acts as a tech tree node, and additional units, structures and faction-specific abilities will become available as new structures are built and placed. Access to advanced units and abilities may be temporarily blocked if the required structures are destroyed or if they are not being provided with adequate power by the supporting "power plant" structures.
Each Command & Conquer game has included the ability to play multiplayer games against other humans. Each box of Command & Conquer contains two CD copies of the game, immediately making multiplayer gaming possible with a single purchase of the game. This was due to the fact that all core files were contained on both CDs, while the only difference between the two were campaign cutscene files which, due to their size, had to be on separate discs. Westwood Studios advertised this on the packaging with the slogan "A second copy, so you and your friend can destroy each other." This resulted in Command & Conquer becoming the first RTS game title to feature competitive online play, and this is considered the most pertinent outside factor in the success of Command & Conquer. All games in the series up to Red Alert 2 also featured two CDs that could be used for this reason. However, later games did not. Generals and Zero Hour were distributed on two CDs each, but their content was arranged in a different way, as the second CD was only ever used during installation.
Red Alert 3 was noted for being the first C&C game to enable the main campaigns to be played cooperatively online; others had only supported singleplayer campaigns and completely separate cooperative missions. However, it was only possible to connect to other computers through GameSpy servers and not with LAN play. After GameSpy's closure in 2014, the community-run C&C:Online service mimicked this feature.
Games produced by Westwood used the proprietary Westwood Online system to facilitate multiplayer games over the Internet, while Renegade supported GameSpy in addition to Westwood Online. Games under EA's development continued to use GameSpy, and dropped support for Westwood Online around 2005, giving reigns over the classic C&C games to the community team at XWIS. The exception is Tiberian Twilight, which used fully independent servers under EA's control.
Command & Conquer, released on 26 September 1995, was the first game in the series and is widely considered as one of the titles which originally popularized the real-time strategy genre. Command & Conquer introduced the warring factions of the Global Defense Initiative (GDI) and the Brotherhood of Nod, fighting over the control of an alien substance known as Tiberium. Command & Conquer was well received and was widely praised by critics. It was the first real-time strategy game to make use of Full Motion Videos (FMV for short) to tell the story of the campaign. The FMVs were encoded in Westwood's proprietary VQA format, as according to Louis Castle, none of the existing formats at the time of development were either sufficient or economical for usage in a computer game. Most of the actors in the FMVs were Westwood employees (such as Eric Gooch, who played Seth), or amateur actors. These videos led to the popularity of Joseph D. Kucan, who played the main antagonist, Kane. Command & Conquer was expanded with a mission pack in 1996, called The Covert Operations. On 14 November 2018, it was announced that Command & Conquer and The Covert Operations would be remastered by Petroglyph Games and Lemon Sky Studios under supervision by Electronic Arts.
Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun, released on 20 August 1999, takes place approximately 30 years after the events in its predecessor. While the plot of the original Command & Conquer plot was centered around an allegorical world politics setting, Tiberian Sun shifted this to a more sci-fi setting against the apocalyptic background of Tiberium beginning to assimilate vast portions of the Earth's ecosystems and generate new wildlife (such as Tiberian fiends). In 1998, Westwood Studios was acquired by Electronic Arts. However, EA had no direct part in the development of the title. Compared to its predecessor, Tiberian Sun relies heavily on science fiction technologies and introduces a new isometric game engine featuring varying level terrain to give the impression of a true 3D environment.
The full motion video is also scripted differently; while the cutscenes of Command & Conquer and Red Alert were filmed from a first-person perspective, Tiberian Sun used traditional cinematic shots for its FMVs featuring well known Hollywood actors such as James Earl Jones of the original Star Wars trilogy and Michael Biehn of Terminator and Aliens.
Tiberian Sun was expanded with Firestorm in 2000, with new units, maps and a storyline continuation, which was noted as the first instance where both factions' campaigns were canon instead of only the "good guys"' version being the official story branch.
Command & Conquer: Renegade, released on 26 February 2002, takes place in the final days of the events of Command & Conquer and was the last Command & Conquer game to be released by the Westwood Studios division in Las Vegas before their liquidation in 2003. Unlike any other games in the series, Renegade is a first/third person shooter, giving players a chance to see the Command & Conquer universe from a first person perspective. The game had a unique multiplayer mode, where players were divided to two teams (GDI and Nod) with an objective to destroy the other team's base. Actual base building was not possible, but players could "purchase" infantry units (basically, transform themselves to another infantry unit) if a Barracks was present and buy vehicles and aircraft if appropriate buildings were present.
Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars, released on 29 March 2007, was a return to the real-time strategy roots of the Command & Conquer series, developed by Electronic Arts Los Angeles. As a direct sequel to Tiberian Sun and Firestorm, Tiberium Wars is set approximately 17 years after the events of Tiberian Sun and features the introduction of a third faction, the Scrin, which were hinted at several times in prior C&C games, even by name in Tiberian Sun. Along with three fully canonical campaigns, the focus of Tiberium Wars was competitive multiplayer, and was featured in the World Cyber Games 2007.
Shortly after the release of Tiberium Wars, the expansion pack Kane's Wrath was announced, and was mostly developed by BreakAway Games. Released on 24 March 2008, Kane's Wrath limited the player to only the Brotherhood of Nod in the campaign mode, though the original factions and six new sub-factions are available for the new strategic mode and skirmish mode. The Xbox 360 version also featured the Kane's Challenge mode. Kane's Wrath was featured in the World Cyber Games 2008.
Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight, released on 16 March 2010, sees a big change in gameplay from the previous Command & Conquer by removing the resource gathering and base building elements in previous games as well as an almost complete removal of the third faction, the Scrin. It is a direct sequel to Kane's Wrath (however not directly following on from its storyline), and is set 10 years after the game's final events, a time when Tiberium has advanced to its next evolutionary stage, and is rapidly spreading across Earth making it soon to be uninhabitable. The poor reception of the game was one of the reasons Electronic Arts Los Angeles, as such, was closed.
On 14 December 2011, it was announced that a new browser-based, free-to-play MMO Command & Conquer game was under development, under the name Command & Conquer: Tiberium Alliances, developed by Electronic Arts Phenomic. On 15 December, Tiberium Alliances began a closed beta. The game was fully released on 24 May 2012. EA Phenomic was closed in July 2013, and further development on the game was given to Easy Studios, which were in turn relieved by Envision Entertainment, formed mostly by ex-Phenomic staff, in 2015.
Redwood Studios was founded in 2016, and is currently working on Command & Conquer: Rivals, which was publicly announced on 9 June 2018 at EA Play. It is set in the Tiberium universe, but is strictly non-canon by design, as it is intended to be an all-stars game of the universe.
Red Alert series
Command & Conquer: Red Alert, released on 22 November 1996, is set in an alternate universe 1950s and was originally made to be the prequel to Command & Conquer establishing Red Alert as the prologue of the entire Tiberium series of games. Since then, Louis Castle has said that connecting Red Alert with the Tiberium series was a "failed experiment". Red Alert introduces the Allies and the Soviets as rival factions roughly analogous to NATO and the Warsaw Pact of the Cold War. The game was expanded by Counterstrike and The Aftermath in 1997. Before being re-released as freeware on 31 August 2008 by Electronic Arts, Red Alert had sold over three million copies. On 14 November 2018, it was announced that Red Alert, Counterstrike, and The Aftermath would be remastered by Petroglyph Games and Lemon Sky Studios under supervision by Electronic Arts.
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 was released on 23 October 2000 as a debut title of Westwood Pacific in the Command & Conquer franchise. It focused on a Soviet invasion of North America with tanks, conscripts, gargantuan Kirov airships, and psychically controlled anti-ship giant squids. Since that game lacked reference to the Tiberian series, the connection established in the first Red Alert game became unclear. Opinion on whether or not the time travel events of the series were forming a separate continuity or just another side adventure on the way to the Tiberium era was divided. However, it has been implied by the original creators of the series, now working at Petroglyph Games, that Red Alert 2 takes place in a parallel universe that came about as a result of time travel experiments taking place some time into the Tiberian series.
An expansion pack to Red Alert 2, Yuri's Revenge, was released on 10 October 2001. In Yuri's Revenge, an ex-Soviet figure named Yuri tries to conquer the world using psychic technology and his own private army. The two existing factions gained new units and abilities, as well as one campaign each. Yuri's faction did not have a single-player campaign, but had a co-operative one instead. Even today, Yuri's Revenge has a loyal modding community.
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, released on 28 October 2008, followed up on the story of Red Alert 2 and continued the series' more "light-hearted" take on Command & Conquer. Red Alert 3 escalated matters further by introducing many new comical units and the very well received Empire of the Rising Sun faction, an anime-inspired version of the Empire of Japan. Executive producer Chris Corry stated in a pre-release interview that Red Alert 3 would further differentiate the playable factions from each other and "[play] up the silliness in their faction design whenever possible." The game prominently featured a co-operative campaign, including an AI co-commander in the single-player mode. Naval combat was also stressed more than in previous games, with many units being amphibious and the majority of structures adapted for construction on water. EA Los Angeles attempted to create a faster-paced competitive multiplayer than in Tiberium Wars.
A standalone expansion to Red Alert 3, Uprising, was released on 12 March 2009 as a digital distribution exclusive, featuring four mini-campaigns and the Commander's Challenge mode. A stripped version of the game for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 was released, known as Commander's Challenge, featuring only the Commander's Challenge mode, without the mini-campaigns.
Command & Conquer: Red Alert Mobile was released on 16 October 2009 for the iOS and Nokia OVI. It was a continuation of the story of Red Alert 2 and takes place before Red Alert 3. It contained two factions the Allies and Soviet Union with a third faction, the Empire of the Rising Sun, to be added in its expansion pack.
Command & Conquer: Generals, released on 10 February 2003 by Electronic Arts Pacific, had a plotline which was completely unrelated to the other games of the Command & Conquer series. Generals is set in the near future and features the United States, People's Republic of China and the fictional terrorist organization, the Global Liberation Army. Generals uses an engine dubbed "SAGE" (or Strategy Action Game Engine) and is the first fully three-dimensional Command & Conquer real-time strategy game. Generals received the E3 2002 Game Critics Awards Best Strategy Game award. It was the first ever Command & Conquer real-time strategy game that did not include full-motion video nor pre-rendered animations to tell the story. It also departed from the unique interface and base-building mechanics that had characterized all of the previous C&C RTS titles.
An expansion for Generals, Zero Hour, was released on 22 September 2003 to further the Generals storyline. Unlike Generals, Zero Hour featured the return of full motion videos to the series. Each faction was further divided to three additional subfactions, each representing a general with different play styles and units, significantly adding to the game's variety.
After EA Los Angeles started up their new internal group Danger Close and switched its focus to the Medal of Honor series (which, in turn, was not successful and Danger Close closed in 2013), EA launched a new studio named Victory Games to continue the Command & Conquer franchise. On 10 December 2011, Electronic Arts posted that the next game in the series would be Command & Conquer: Generals 2.
On 15 August 2012, it was announced that Generals 2 would be repurposed to a free-to-play game known as simply Command & Conquer. The new game was to be based around the Generals franchise and was planned to be released in 2013. On 29 October 2013, following issues of "corporate shenanigans" by Electronic Arts during the alpha pre-trial, the game was cancelled, and Victory Games was closed. While EA stated that they were looking for new options, no further news were released since.
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