Have You Played… Command & Conquer III?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

It probably wasn’t the sequel we all wanted from the mainline Command & Conquer series, left fallow for some time in favour of Red Alert II and Generals. I liked C&C3 anyway, and I want another game like it.

I’m not sure anyone wanted aliens in it, particularly. The third faction yanked the whole feel of C&C in a different direction, losing the post-apocalyptic feel of its predecessor Tiberian Sun in favour of more of an invasion scenario. It offered new places for the game’s absurd narrative to explore – I suspect it would have run into dead ends otherwise – but it wasn’t what we wanted.

We wanted GDI and NOD at each other’s throats again, ridiculous machines and Kane chewing enough scenery to fill every village hall in England. More of the same but in 3D, essentially. What C&C3 did instead was to hybridise the Tiberium saga C&Cs with the more conscious camp of Red Alert II, playing more to a communal memory of what previous C&C games were than to the reality of them.

In that, after the dour and uncomfortably real-world Generals, C&C3 was what we needed from the mainline C&C series. Big and knowingly stupid and over-powered and funny half deliberately and half by accident. A Command & Conquer game, for better or worse, not just a game called Command & Conquer. By God, I want this series back, and in that spirit.


  1. Bull0 says:

    Generals was dour and uncomfortably real-world?

    Generals was pretty satirical – the GLA had an Angry Mob unit that cheered “AK47s! For everyone!” when you unlocked the “Arm the mob” upgrade. The chinese units all had comedy racist accents, and they had a late game Hacker unit that stole money from the internet.

    • Lord_Mordja says:

      Controversial (?) opinion: Generals/Zero Hour was the best C&C game, made even better by its plethora of high-quality mods, some of which are being developed to this very day.

      Hell, it’s one of my favourite RTS games of all time and China really suits my playing style of “getting big supertanks and superguns and running roughshod over the enemy.

      C&C3 is decent too, but I really think its visual design is just plain old bad.

      • Bayemon says:

        Generals and Zero Hour would be my #1 RTS ever, if it weren’t for that awful net code they had. Spent as much time trying to get games to connect as we did actually playing. And we still kept at it because the game was that much fun.

        C&C3 was a fine game. Much better IMO than Red Alert 3, which was so so.

      • Bull0 says:

        I love it, hours of fun playing superweapon general versus tank general, watching their columns of tanks come in and get taken out by EMP patriots. I love all the C&C games with the exception of 4, though, and I’d have trouble picking a favourite.

      • KDR_11k says:

        I think a strong point of Generals was that it abandoned the C&C build bar approach that reduces the scalability of your production (instead of speed bonuses with caps or diminishing returns you can actually build multiple things at once by making more factories). Having worker units also allowed much more flexibility with base building and territory control than the build bar’s magically appearing buildings that had to be limited to a radius around your existing base. And the simple resource points were much more predictable than the random scatterings of tiberium and ore that seem mostly based on Dune’s spice.

        Act of War and Act of Aggression are Generals clones with a more serious unit set. Loses a bit of the flavor and ease of understanding but if you need a modern Generals-like then AoA is an option.

    • Tafdolphin says:

      I think that’s referring to the whole “Middle Eastern faction with suicide bomber unit” thing.

      • Bull0 says:

        I get it, but Red Alert did middle eastern suicide bombers first (Libyan demo trucks) and Generals is so over the top with it that it’s clearly not meant to be taken literally.

    • Ferno says:

      The Americans were as entertainingly stereotyped. The paladin tank’s lines of “Preserving freedom” “It’s the right thing to do” when you tell it to shoot a worker or something. Also the old “Thank you for the new shoes!” in Generals’ superb expansion.

      I’d love a proper sequel or remake of that. It was also one of the best C&C games on a competitive level. I never got along with C&C3 sadly.

      • Bull0 says:

        Yeah, it was great. Loads of fun mechanics. I liked being able to build landing pads/markets/hackers for extra money, and building lots and lots of superweapons. Comp stomping was really fun in Generals. I was excited when they were remaking it and it’s a tragedy it never got finished.

    • KDR_11k says:

      It looked pretty real world at first glance and doesn’t help that it came during the early days of the war on terror. Especially noticeable with the anthrax weapons, that word was only in the public consciousness due to the anthrax mailing around 9/11 and the way it’s used in the game makes very little sense. These days that would probably just be chemical weapons. It just seemed generally based on headlines and whatever military tech was on the news at that time.

  2. Butler says:

    Nosed around at this in the recent steam Sale and noticed that, to my surprise, reviews were generally glowing.

    It was a good game – if not a great one – but isn’t particularly remembered as such, especially by the media.

  3. causticnl says:

    too bad it wont run on Win10.

    • Gardiad says:

      I’m playing it on windows 10 right now, it does work? Unless you mean a disc copy and it has some protection I don’t know about.

    • FesterSilently says:

      …I am also playing the hell out of C&C3 (and C&C Generals, for that matter) now and again, on my Windows 10 rig. Just like I played them both on my Windows 8, Windows 7 and Windows Vista rigs in the past. ;)

  4. Gozzle246 says:

    I signed up just to add another voice clamouring for this series to be revived. Not necessarily the Tiberian line, C & C generally.

  5. Kollega says:

    I agree with the article: C&C3 wasn’t great, but it was good. It was the first Tiberium game I played (I just completely missed Tiberian Sun, not even sure if pirated copies, nevermind licensed ones, were available in my country – so my first C&C was RA2:YR). And it was good. Not great, but good. Compared to RA2 that I knew, it did actually feel like a modernized take on that same formula.

    I was rather annoyed by the infantry squad mechanic not making it into RA3, combined with even the goddamn Conscripts taking four goddamn seconds to build EACH. And after C&C4 bombed so hard that I didn’t even pirate it, and Generals 2 was simply canceled… well, all I want is a new C&C-style game. Not some awkward melding of Starcraft and C&C, like RA3 tried to do. But sadly, no indie dev seems to want to make one. I played the demo version of Grey Goo, but even Petroglyph tried to make Starcraft instead of a C&C successor. So now all I can do is wait, and hope (or maybe, if I’ll be able to, make my own C&C successor some day. With blackjack, and hookers.)

    • keefybabe says:

      With c&c4 they threw the baby out with the bathwater. That was an epic fuck up.

    • KDR_11k says:

      Petroglyph made a Petroglyph game, they have a very distinct flavor IMO (especially the damage behavior) and I don’t really like it. The closest comparison outside of their own games would be Earth 2160, not Starcraft.

  6. dormouse of wimpy squadron says:

    As there is a steam sale for the C&C3 series going on, are there any titles to recommend to someone who has very little experience with RTSes? Or should I look elsewhere?
    Which would it be for singleplayer and which for multiplayer?

    • dormouse of wimpy squadron says:

      Oooops, Command & Conquer 3 and Red Alert 3 are’nt the same thing! – I meant those 2

    • Gozzle246 says:

      The tone of C&C3 and RA3 are very different. RA3 is probably easier to pick up and play while C&C3 is a little bit truer to the original formula. They’re both solid but unspectacular.

      • dormouse of wimpy squadron says:

        thanks for your input, still not sure which I want, but I’m leaning towards C&C3

  7. Premium User Badge

    Oakreef says:

    I actually thought the Scrin campaign was the most Command & Conquer-y of the three campaigns what with the fixed familiar talking head for every briefing rather than bad Battlestar Galactica cinematography and the wonderfully cheese interplay between your supervisor and your ship’s AI.

  8. KDR_11k says:

    Yes, both C&C 3s. Since the RA series was part of the numbering scheme in Germany the number 3 applied to both Tiberian Sun and the real 3.

    • MikhailG says:

      I bought tib sun in switzerland and ever since then I was tripped up when it was not called the 3rd game by english media like what the fuck.

  9. Thulsa Hex says:

    Haven’t played C&C 3, despite being a C&C nut as a teenager. Unfortunately, it came out in the middle of my own PC Dark Ages: the art college years. Correction: I played the demo on Xbox 360 out of morbid curiosity, following EA’s claims of “perfectly adapting RTS gameplay to controllers”. They obviously had not—it was shite.

    I really, really wanted this game years before it actually came out. Generals was such a disappointing reveal. It was supposed to go Tiberian Sun > Red Alert 2 > Tiberian Dusk (or whatever it would be called). That was the natural order of things. But of course, EA. The best lads. Great job all-’round with how they handled Westwood. Cheers, guys!

    Anywho, Generals as a game was fine, and I honestly had fun playing on LAN. But fuck me I wanted obelisks of light and other ridiculous stuff. FMVs with Michael Biehn-caliber 80s actors, and KANE. Imagine Bill Paxton as some GDI dude? Also, C&C might have been campy, but it had awesome atmosphere. Generals’ tone was just… exploitative.

    Seeing that this is just a few bucks on Steam right now, I might just give it a go. Cheers for these articles, BTW. Always enjoy a ramble down PC gaming past.

  10. onodera says:

    The first mission for Nod is one of the best missions in RTS games. In under ten minutes it convinces you that organizing terrorist acts is the coolest thing ever.

  11. Werthead says:

    It’s actually a pretty solid game, far better than I think anyone was expecting. Kane chewing up the scenery and the time travel stuff in the expansion (including bringing back some of Tiberian Sun’s units) was entertaining. I’d certainly rank it up there close to Red Alert 2 and Generals as the best of the series.

    I think because it looked very similar, it might have been tarred a little by association with C&C4, which was just terrible.

  12. Unclepauly says:

    C&C3 was my 1st RTS. LOL. My second was Halo Wars. LOL. My 1st two RTS’s was on xbox it’s kinda crazy. I then came to PC and played Starcraft 2 and a few others and was aghast at how much easier it was to manipulate my armies. My 1st two RTS’s was on console and even I don’t know how people play with a controller.

  13. April March says:

    I think the only C&C game I ever played was some bizarre spinoff for a console. For the Gamecube? Maybe the N64, even?

    Yeah, I guess I’m not a real PC gamer. You found my secret!

    • MikhailG says:

      there was a c&c1 version for the n64, looked gods awefull

      • suicicoo says:

        …awefull or awfull?
        i think it was great, being the first 3d-C&C…

  14. icemann says:

    I quite liked C&C 3. Even got a great expansion later on.

    Shame it all went downhill after this one. Red Alert 3 was meh (besides the FMV’s) and C&C 4 we do not speak of.