Command & Conquer by Westwood Studios and Virgin Interactive was quite the success story. It was the granddaddy of real-time strategy gaming as we know it today. Sure, another game predates C&C but minor tweaks separated the two by miles. Considering this was released in the mid-1990’s, there is also a heaping helping of Full Motion Video (FMV). Do not let that stop you though, a great game awaits those that accept the challenge. Recently there was a compilation release, with many updates, made available as well. The original game is free to download as well. How un-EA of Electronic Arts.
The birth of a genre
The development team behind Command & Conquer were working on Dune II prior. This is when they came up with the idea of doing a military themed game. Once development was done on the fantasy themed title, it began in earnest on C&C.
Gamers were still unfamiliar with the real-time strategy genre. This meant an uphill battle of sorts for Virgin Interactive Entertainment, the publisher. They were able to get over the hill and into mainstream though.
One thing that set Command & Conquer apart was allowing you to play the bad guys. Yep, you can take up arms on either side of the battle here. This was not something gamers were accustomed to at the time. Most games left you in the shoes of the good guys facing an unsurmountable foe.
Command & Conquer was differentNo matter what side you take the basic gameplay is the same. Each side does have unique vehicles though. This adds a bit of replay value as you encounter new vehicles from the opposing side.
Control was quite simple and mostly mouse driven. This made playing easy for most people. This along with the unit upgrade paths is still in use by RTS games today.
If it works, why mess with it?
Ports and upgrades, downgrades as well
Command & Conquer could not be held down, unlike Dune II. That fantasy game only reached the Sega Genesis, as far as I know, and PC’s. C&C hit everything, whether it could handle it or not.
The Sega Saturn version (released in 1996) was a console exclusive till 1997 (a rarity for that console). The PlayStation version went onto see many sequels. PSOne mouse support would show up in the sequels.
The Nintendo 64 even got a Command & Conquer release in 1999. Not sure why though. I guess if there is a chance at profits, why not release it? There was a 3DO port announced but nothing was shown of that vaporware release.
The original DOS version is available for free but good luck getting that working. DOSBox may work if you are patient enough to set it up. EA did release a compilation recently that fixes a lot of stuff. This version is available on Steam with physical copies on eBay and Amazon.
This article was originally published on Retro Gaming Magazine.