Nicely remastered units, structures & map elements
Great remastered soundtrack
Source code available on GitHub for the modding community
The game engine feels dated
Cut-scenes aren't really 4K
Feels a little bit like fan service
“Welcome back Commander.” These words bring back fond memories of running home after school for my Real-Time Strategy (RTS) fix. When Electronic Arts (EA) announced the 4K remaster for Tiberium Dawn & Red Alert, as part of the Command & Conquer Remastered Collection, I was buzzing with excitement and I could not wait for the 5 June 2020 release date.
Knowing the track record of game publishers releasing remasters to classics, much of this excitement was tempered with a bit of skepticism. A part of me still wondered if the “remaster” was just the repainting of sprites and a cash grab from nostalgic gamers like myself.
EA’s bungling of C&C 4: Tiberium Twilight did not inspire much confidence, but I found relief in the fact that some of the original Westwood Studios guys were now part of Petroglyph Games.
The Command & Conquered Remastered Collection includes the original Tiberium Dawn, its expansion, The Covert Operations and Red Alert, with its expansions Counterstrike and Aftermath.
There are also missions from the console version of Red Alert included.
Both games, on the first run, play a cut-scene of the “installation screens”, reminiscent of the MS-DOS days and then “upgrades” the game to its 4K glory. It is the same footage from the originals, with some enhancement. However, it definitely isn’t 4K.
To expect something like Final Fantasy VII Remake does feel like asking a little too much – this game is about 30% of the price so expectations should be managed.
The campaigns on both Tiberium Dawn & Red Alert are the same as the initial release, but upscaled to 4K. Playing them again and watching the cutscenes just keeps the nostalgia going for a bit.
All the units and structures, as well as map elements, have been recreated from scratch in 4K. The sharpness and detail the developers have put into it keep the original spirit intact, yet make it current at the same time.
I think the the ability to switch the display to the original sprites was integrated just to show how much work they put into this remaster. I would not hit spacebar just to look at that mess of pixels for any other reason… but that’s just me.
Going back in time to play a game originally created in the 90s can get some getting used to as gameplay mechanics have changed quite a bit with modern RTSs. The right-click move and attack can be switched on in the game options, but having no way-points and rally points, some micro management is needed to play the games effectively.
Pathfinding is as painful as it was back in the day and you will find your harvester ploughing its way through an enemy base to make its way back to the refinery. Or infantry units that walk through tiberium fields and getting decimated before a shot is fired. Ah, the memories.
The soundtrack, remastered by Frank Klepacki, is on point and really puts me in the mood when I play the game. The death wails while firing at enemy infantry units, and the squish when my harvester crushes them under its wheels just ignite the giggles of the teenager trapped in my old body.
Not forgetting the iconic “Hell March” by Frank Klepacki and the Tiberian Sons, I still wonder to myself what is the command at the beginning of the track.
For the modders out there, you’ve just hit the tiberium mother load. EA has made the game source code available on GitHub. Which means that fans can look at seeing various mods and units from the community. As of this writing, there are 3,591 items on the Steam Workshop and I will expect the numbers to rise with time.
The game also comes with the Map Editor. I always felt that the multiplayer and skirmish maps never had enough resources to really have a throw down with my opponent back then. Which would then lead me to dive into the Map Editor to create my own maps where there is always an abundance of ore or Tiberium and then some.
I cannot wait to jump in and create some of my own maps to run a few multiway skirmishes on my own or posting it on the Steam Workshop for everyone to enjoy.
While I would have really liked to see some improvements in the game engine to include some of the newer RTS game features, the Command & Conquer Remastered Collection keeps retains the mind (quirks and all), upgrades the body (in 4K) and enhances its soul with a kick-ass soundtrack.