When Command & Conquer for the Saturn came out, people at our sister site, GameSpot, thought I shouldn't be allowed to review it. Why? Because being the "console boy" I am, they assumed I would give a two-dimensional PC strategy conversion a low rating for not measuring up to my "3D polygonal ass-whooping standards." Guess what? I played Command & Conquer all the way through and awarded it with the highest rating of any game on our site - it occupied every free hour I had (at work and home) for the better part of a month. Needless to say I was very enthusiastic about the PlayStation version rolling across my desk.
For those who don't know, Command & Conquer is one of the best-selling PC games of all time. Taking place in the near future, players choose between two forces battling for world domination - the peacekeeping Global Defense Initiative (GDI) or the world terrorist organization, Brotherhood of Nod. As GDI, your typical mission involves establishing a base, increasing funds (by harvesting a dangerous mineral called Tiberium), and generating enough manpower (in the form of commandos, tanks, engineers, etc.) to accomplish your objective, whether that's destroying a key weapon, taking out enemy defense posts, or leveling enemy bases. Your skills are tested throughout each mission as you try to accomplish your objective while defending your base against attacks. What about playing as Nod? Well, chances are you're roughing up the civilians and making life tough for GDI forces while watching your back for the inevitable retaliation.
Command & Conquer on the PlayStation looks really good. The graphics have more detail than you'd expect from a strategy game, and the between-mission cinematics are quite entertaining (especially Nod's). If you're used to the PC version, the lower resolution and control changes might scare you off, but the interface here works well and is simple to use once you get used to it (all point-and-click with a pop-up control window). The soundtrack stands out as one of the best ever included in a video game, and from start to finish, the tunes are simply awesome - featuring techno-pop that pulses along with the game.
Graphics and sound aside, what makes Command & Conquer fun is the challenge it delivers. Each mission is tough: Towards the end of the game it can take hours, if not days, to complete a single task. With fifteen GDI and thirteen NOD missions, C&C has plenty of long-term play value. On top of that, there are fifteen Covert Operations missions (from the PC add-on pack), and five new missions exclusive to the PlayStation. It's no wonder this game comes on two discs.
If you haven't played any other version of C&C, all of this will be great, but if you've checked out the PC or Saturn versions, prepare for a slight let-down. This game moves almost twice as fast as the Saturn version, and this is not necessarily a good thing. New players may thrive on the speed (no other strategy game goes as fast), but purists will be annoyed that even using the "slow cursor" option does nothing to slow the game down. Also sorely lacking is a two-player option that could have easily been accomplished with the PlayStation link cable (anyone who has played C&C two-player over a modem or network knows that this is the ultimate way to play this title).
Overall Command & Conquer is a great strategy game and easily the best available on the PlayStation. If you're dying for intense strategy, you can't go wrong. C&C purists may want to wait until later this year, however, when Westwood releases Command & Conquer's sequel, Red Alert.