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Command & Conquer's infamous FMV cutscenes have been wrangled into high definition

Slowly, but surely, we’ve been drip-fed more deets on Command & Conquer Remastered – EA’s upcoming HD re-release of Tiberian Sun and Red Alert. Last year we got a brief look at C&C Remastered’s scaled up assets. They’re very nice, too, sharpening decades-old art to bring it up to a modern standard without going overboard on fancy effects. But what about Command & Conquer’s (in)famous FMV cutscenes?

Worry not, commanders. EA have brought C&C’s B-movie acting chops into high-definition, showing off a brief clip earlier this week. But scaling up decades-old footage didn’t come without tactical challenges of its own.

It’s one thing to spruce up building and unit textures. It’s quite another to upscale 320 x 200 resolution recordings of professional actors chewing up scenery like an all-you-can-eat buffet. For producer Jim Vessella, this meant going on a treasure hunt to track down some original HD recordings.

Despite unearthing a Blockbuster’s worth of old tapes in an LA storage unit, Vessella was disheartened to find these were the same low-res recordings used in-game, and not the HD masters he was looking for. Instead, Vessella notes that the team ended up working with cutscene files taken from the PlayStation ports of the games – shots found in EAs own archives, or else tracked down with the help of community archivists.

The file format of the PlayStation vids was supposedly easier for the team to work with. Over the last year, the developers have managed to upscale every FMV cutscene in Tiberian Dawn, Red Alert, and each of their respective expansions in crisp high-definition. ‘Course, the acting’s still hokey and the CG is still very mid-90s, but that’s all part of the charm.

Granted, these ports lacked some of the PC original’s shots. Vessella notes that there’s a noticeable (if minor) drop in remastering quality for cutscenes that never made it to console. It does, however, mean that PS1-exclusive cutscenes will make their way into C&C Remastered, along with never-before-seen B-roll footage the team unearthed. Bonus clips like that will be included as unlockables in a new “Bonus Gallery” Vessela announced this week.

Teased all the way back in 2018, Command & Conquer: Remastered still has no release date in sight. Hopefully, it hasn’t yet escaped to the one place that hasn’t been corrupted by capitalism.

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Natalie Clayton

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