The Command & Conquer series is one of the RTS genre’s biggest and most beloved.
From 1995 until 2012, Command & Conquer fans had a slew of games to play, across different eras – though not every release is celebrated as a gem. Over the years, the series’ gameplay evolved in all kinds of weird and occasionally baffling ways (remember that FPS?!), but fans still look back at it with real fondness overall.
With so many titles to choose from though, what are the top 10 Command & Conquer games (including expansion packs)? Let’s take a look …
- 1 Command & Conquer: Red Alert
- 2 Command & Conquer: Generals
- 3 Command & Conquer: Generals – Zero Hour
- 4 Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun
- 5 Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars
- 6 Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2
- 7 Command & Conquer
- 8 Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3
- 9 Command & Conquer: Yuri’s Revenge
- 10 Command & Conquer 3: Kane’s Wrath
Command & Conquer: Red Alert
Released more than 20 years ago, back in 1996, Command & Conquer: Red Alert is set between 1946 and ‘53 … in an alternate universe, of course.
The story starts with Albert Einstein killing Adolf Hitler using a time machine (a high concept, if ever there was one!), and this mahoosive change sees history take a darker turn, with the USSR becoming a huge ruling force.
You can choose to play as Allied or Soviet forces, each with their own vehicles and weaponry, including some inventive creations like Tesla coils and Chronospheres. Creating an alternate timeline allowed Westwood Studios to basically have fun imagining how things might have been, and it helps to give Red Alert a unique flavour.
The gameplay itself was tweaked from the original, with an additional resource to utilise, unique heroes, as well as naval forces to mix things up a little. You can also design your own maps to play on with your pals.
Command & Conquer: Generals
Command & Conquer: Generals hit the market in 2003, and drops players into a near-future war. You have three factions to choose from: The USA; the People’s Republic of China; and the Global Liberation Army (AKA the GLA). The former two countries are the planet’s reigning superpowers, while the GLA is fighting to bring them both down.
Each faction has its differences: the USA boasts impressive high-tech gear and a tough air fleet, while China relies more on the power of tanks and a huge army. The GLA’s a more guerilla affair, with sneak-attacks the key to victory.
The gameplay itself was changed quite a bit from previous instalments, with a new economy system, no FMV scenes (unimaginable!), and a shiny new 3D engine. It’s regarded as one of the very best Command & Conquer games, and though it took a few risks, they ultimately paid off.
Command & Conquer: Generals – Zero Hour
Another C&C: Generals game came along in the same year. Zero Hour features three new campaigns, each made up of five missions – and, due to some fans’ disappointment at Generals’ lack of cut-scenes, live-action video was included again to move the narrative along.
Zero Hour also features a great extra mode, Generals’ Challenge, which sees you play as one of nine strategic generals, fighting against others in one-on-one battles. This makes a nice addition to the campaign, as an extra test of C&C skill.
Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun
1999’s Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun takes place three decades after the first game’s events, with the UN’s Global Defense Initiative at war with the villainous Brotherhood of Nod.
Nod’s nefarious leader, Kane, returns, despite being presumed dead, and trouble starts again (to condense a fairly complex plot!). There are two campaigns, and new units & buildings are available, as well as some impressive new technology (with a pretty heavy sci-fi edge).
Environmental effects add to the game’s atmosphere and sense of immersion, too, thanks to the day-to-night cycle. You also get to choose a number of alternative paths throughout the campaign mode, which opens up the chance to take part in optional missions.
Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars
This sequel to Tiberian Sun hit stores in 2007, and follows the war between the Global Defense Initiative and the Brotherhood of Nod again.
Set during Nod’s massive global attach, you’re able to play as an alien faction, known as the Scrin, which gives the game a distinctive feel. This might not have taken any great leaps in terms of its gameplay, but it’s still a lot of fun, especially with a bunch of aliens thrown into the mix.
It’s also got some cracking live-action scenes, if you can stand to watch them.
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 sees you stepping into the boots of either the Allies or Soviets again, and it’s something of a beast.
Set after the death of Stalin, this begins in 1972, and sees the Soviets invade the USA, triggering the Third World War. You get to play with a huge range of units, and your troops’ vocal interactions really add to the atmosphere, creating a greater sense of camaraderie.
On top of this, there are brilliantly-named Tesla Troopers, Prism Tanks, and Crazy Ivans, while madcap inventions like Terror Drones and Mirage Tanks bring a real sci-fi touch to the action. If you’ve never played this before, it’s well worth tracking down, and is one of the series’ real highlights.
Command & Conquer
Command & Conquer first surfaced in 1995, and it still stands up today. This follows the world war between the Global Defense Initiative and the Brotherhood of Nod, with Kane leading the way for the first time.
Westwood Studios first came up with the concept for Command & Conquer while they were hard at work on Dune II, which helped to define what the RTS genre would go on to become throughout the 90s.
This introduced the legendary cut-scenes, with their questionable acting and dialogue, as well as the core gameplay that stayed with the series years after. It’s amazing to see how simple this is now, after so much evolution, but it’s still fun to dip into and holds a special place in gaming history.
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3
The third Red Alert game takes the series’ high-concept storytelling up a notch, with the Soviets heading back in time to ice Einstein before he can help the Allies come out on top. As a result, the Empire of the Rising Sun – yet another major power – is born.
Bad for the world, but great for us, as Red Alert 3 gives us three factions to play as (Allies, Soviets, and the aforementioned Empire of the Rising Sun). For the most part, it’s the usual C&C gameplay we know and love, though a few solid additions were introduced.
One of the most impressive is the co-op campaign system, that lets you play through the usually single-player mode with a friend (real or artificial). There’s also a greater emphasis on naval warfare, which adds a whole new dynamic to the gameplay.
The Empire of the Rising Sun is also a genius creation, thanks to the sheer madness of their design. You get to play as soldiers clad in samurai armour (complete with swords), transforming robots, ninjas, and more – it was a bold move on the developers’ part, but keeps the Red Alert experience nice & fresh.
Command & Conquer: Yuri’s Revenge
Yuri’s Revenge is a 2001 expansion pack to Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2. Starring well-known actor Udo Kier as the titular Yuri – head of the Soviet Psychic Corps.
Yuri, you see, has lofty plans to take control of the world through some handy mind control (otherwise known as ‘cheating’) – but the Allies have other ideas.
The gameplay in Yuri’s Revenge is basically the same as in Red Alert 2 (and other C&C titles), with your forces needing resources to keep their base and army strong, though two new campaigns are available. The Yuri faction is made up of clones, and relies on such inventive tactics as controlling minds (as you might have guessed).
Yuri’s Revenge is full of good stuff, and builds on the classic Red Alert 2 brilliantly.
Command & Conquer 3: Kane’s Wrath
In Command & Conquer 3: Kane’s Wrath (another expansion pack), you follow Kane’s rise to power in the mid-21st century.
One of Kane’s Wrath’s biggest, most memorable features is Global Conquest. In this mode, you’re put in control of your forces in a turn-based system, with each side exerting dominance over a map one try at a time. Whenever your forces meet others on the map, you’re then able to kick butt in the standard Command & Conquer style.
Of course, if you have this on the Xbox 360, you’re unable to play Global Conquest Mode, as the exclusive Kane’s Challenge is included instead.
What’s your favourite Command & Conquer game, and why? Let us know!