For Command & Conquer fans it's been nearly 10 years since Nod and GDI raged nostalgic battles across office LANs nationwide, but thankfully the veteran RTS series is finally back on the scene with gaming's favourite bald-headed villain heading-up the finest FMV cut-scenes since Voodoo graphics cards were king.
After kicking arse and taking names in the first C&C3 multiplayer session, we recently caught up with Tiberium Wars Executive Producer and all-round C&C god Mike Verdu, to probe him on how he plans to shake up the as-always crowded RTS genre while living up to the massive expectations of C&C stalwarts.
You can expect more on how the game actually plays next month when EA finally loosens our NDA shackles, but for now it's over to Mr. Verdu...
There are a lot of big RTS games on the market this year - how are you trying to balance traditional C&C gameplay while at the same time keeping up with the other big hitters in the genre?
Mike Verdu: C&C is about fast, fluid gameplay and I think based on what you've experienced today you can see that it's very fast-action, very true to C&C with classic C&C units like the Orca, the Mammoth, the Stealth and the Flame Tank, but also with brand new units and structures that really complement the gameplay.
I think if you compare there are some things about C&C that are just timeless and classic and fair well against RTS games of any generation. What we really wanted to do with Tiberium Wars was create a game that was really fresh but familiar, with timeless elements but in the end really felt like a 2007 RTS. With the great story and the multiplayer features that we're introducing I have no worries about competing with whatever's current in 2007.
And it's worth saying that the RTS landscape is pretty vibrant and different games are finding different niches - so it's not like we're all creating games that are competing directly with each other. If you look at Company of Heroes it's very close-combat, very tactical, very squad-based gameplay, where as Supreme Commander has a very epic sense of scale and is actually a very different experience from C&C, so I think there's actually room for all of us.
In that, what do you think C&C3 offers over other RTS games by retaining the classic kind of rock-paper-scissors gameplay, rather than going for the whole epic, 2000+ units deal?
Verdu: Raw fun-factor and high-level, competitive RTS gameplay. What we're trying to do is create a game that has really good fundamentals and appeals to people that want to play RTS games competitively, either in tournaments or against each other to get onto the leaderboards or the ladders. At the same time we're trying to make the counters really well understood, with a predictable ruleset where you win because of how good you are and the skill you bring to the table, and we've re-engineered our pipeline and the engine to get rid of any hitches and lags and anything that gets in the way of fine control over units and speed of gameplay. So what you get is a very fluid experience where the units react when you tell them to.
Then on the story side with live action, CG and 35 story missions we have kind of an epic story-based experience - and that is unique. The level of story we're delivering in C&C3 with the number of missions and the way that the story is woven into the campaigns is definitely unique.
Generals was the series' first branch in to 3D and everything that came with that. What kind of lessons did you learn from the last game?