Command & Conquer: Generals
|Command & Conquer: Generals|
Command & Conquer Generals cover art
|Developer(s)||EA Pacific (Windows)
Aspyr Media (Mac OS)
|Publisher(s)||EA Games (Windows)
Aspyr Media (Mac OS)
|Series||Command & Conquer|
|Engine||Strategy Action Game Engine (SAGE)|
|Distribution||CD-ROM (2) (PC), DVD (Mac OS)|
Command & Conquer: Generals is a real-time strategy video game and the seventh installment in the Command & Conquer series. It was released for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS operating systems in 2003 and 2004. While the Windows version of Generals was developed by EA Pacific and published by EA Games, the Mac OS version was developed and published by Aspyr Media. In the game, the player can choose from three different factions: the United States, China and the Global Liberation Army (GLA).
Generals utilizes SAGE (Strategy Action Game Engine), an extended version of the Command & Conquer: Renegade's 3D engine. An expansion pack, entitled Command & Conquer: Generals – Zero Hour, was additionally released for PC in 2003, and for Mac OS in 2005. Both Generals and Zero Hour were met with highly positive reviews. A sequel, Command & Conquer: Generals 2, was in development, until it was repurposed to a free-to-play game known as simply Command & Conquer. The new game was based around the Generals franchise and was cancelled on 29 October 2013 by EA after negative feedback during the closed Alpha test.
Generals takes place in the near future, with players given a choice of three factions to play. In Generals, the United States and China are the world's two superpowers, and are the targets of the Global Liberation Army (GLA), an omnipresent borderless terrorist organization, fighting as a fanatical irregular force. The United States and China are depicted as allies in the series who occasionally co-operate against the GLA, whose goals is the elimination of the military forces of China and the United States.
The game begins with a devastating GLA nuclear attack on Beijing and a subsequent GLA attack on the Three Gorges Dam. The player assumes the role of a Chinese general who rallies the remaining Chinese forces and counterattacks. The general eventually destroys the GLA cell masterminding all Pacific Rim operations.
The player then assumes the role of another GLA general who regroups GLA forces in Central Asia and gathers funds and biological weapons. In doing so, he has to face both American and Chinese armies and a GLA splinter cell. His campaign eventually culminates in the overtaking of the Baikonur Cosmodrome and the firing of a Soyuz rocket bearing a biological MIRV at an unnamed city.
At this point the American campaign begins in which the USA engages the GLA across the Middle East and the Central Asia. A joint American-Chinese operation eventually destroys the main GLA command base in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Command and Conquer Generals operates like most other real-time strategy games, in that the player must construct a base, acquire resources, build various combat and support units, and defeat opponents. Various unit types can be constructed, ranging from infantry to vehicles and air units. The player may control the United States of America, the People's Republic of China, or the Global Liberation Army, and each side has its unique characteristics and abilities. All sides share some similarities, such as training infantry at a barracks, building armored vehicles at a factory, possessing "high tech" buildings needed for more advanced units, possessing a means to acquire additional resources and possessing a unique superweapon.
The game's interface is similar to that of real-time strategy games such as Age of Empires or StarCraft. The player selects buildings to bring up build orders and purchase upgrades, and can select individual units to activate their special abilities. Structures are built by selecting dedicated builder units and placing the structure anywhere on the map.
As with other real-time strategy games, the various units have advantages and disadvantages against other units, and the player is encouraged to mix unit types in order to succeed and fight tactically with various unit abilities in order to win.
For example, rifle infantry are capable of quickly killing other infantry types, but are vulnerable to light vehicles and dedicated anti-infantry/anti-air units such as tankettes and APCs, which in turn are vulnerable to main battle tanks, which themselves are vulnerable to missile-equipped infantry and aircraft.
As the game progresses and the player defeats enemy units in battle, the player will gain "experience" points, which are used to purchase "Generals Abilities," unique abilities that range from enhancing units and unlocking new unit types to powerful air strikes, one-shot enhancements to units, or targetable "spawn points" to drop or create groups of units anywhere on the map.
As individual units attack and defeat enemy units or capture buildings, they gain "veterancy" and become more powerful, much like the General commanding them. Higher-ranking units attack faster, have more health, and heal or repair themselves.
In a single-player campaign, a player can play any of the three sides in any order, with each side's campaign consisting of seven missions. The storyline follows the order of China first, then the GLA, then the USA. Additionally, there is a training mission that can be accessed directly regardless of the player's progress in the campaign. In this mission, the player is fighting as USA against the GLA.
Games can be played both over the Internet or a local area network (LAN). It adopts a similar format to skirmish mode whereby the goal is to eliminate the other team. Games over the Internet can be completely random, in the form of a Quick Match. Players can also play in Custom Matches where the number of players, the map and rules are decided upon by the host. Generals includes online play through Tunngle on Windows.
Generals presents players with a separate musical score for each faction. The United States' theme music consists of grand, militaristic scores composed by Bill Brown and Mikael Sandgren. China's musical themes feature apocalyptic, orchestral scores combined with East Asian instrumentation. The GLA faction's theme soundtrack can be described as a combination of Middle Eastern and few South Asian sounds coupled with heavy metal music, similar to the music in the Somalian sequences in Black Hawk Down. The soundtrack was used extensively in the 2008 Discovery Channel documentary Surviving Sharks.
Each of the three factions has a play style that corresponds with its real-world counterpart. Every faction has advantages and disadvantages. Each one also has upgrades to improve its army. The GLA Units are generally cheaper than their Chinese and American Counterparts at the cost of being less durable and less sophisticated. Additionally, the GLA lacks access to Air units of any kind. American units are usually more expensive, but possess better damage, armor and unique abilities that increase survivability and combat effectiveness. Additionally, USA has the most advanced air arsenal in game. Chinese units are usually in between American and GLA units in terms of cost and individual units are proportional in effectiveness. However, most Chinese units benefit from "hording" together and will receive synergy bonuses when attacking together. All of the factions, when played in the correct order, create a storyline of events. Generals takes place in the near future. The United States and the People's Republic of China are the world's two superpowers, and are the targets of the Global Liberation Army, a large, well-organized terrorist organization, fighting as a fanatical irregular force. The United States and China are depicted as allies in the series, and frequently co-operate with each other throughout the storyline against the Global Liberation Army, which is depicted as an omnipresent, borderless organization with unclear goals beyond opposition to and expulsion of both China and the United States.
Generals also includes a map editor named World Builder for the PC edition only. The World Builder includes features such as:
- A terraforming tool
- An intelligent road system, able to detect when the player wants an intersection
- A tool to scatter flora around the map
- Waypoints and area triggers that the AI can use. Waypoints also determine starting points for the players on a skirmish map.
- A scripting system that was meant for the missions in the single-player campaign
After its release, Generals received mostly positive reviews. Based on 34 reviews, Metacritic gives it a score of 84/100 which includes a score of 9.3/10 from IGN. Generals has also received the E3 2002 Game Critics Awards Best Strategy Game award. One review noted that Generals was the first ever "C&C" RTS game that did not include full-motion video cutscenes to tell the story and that it departed from the unique interface and base-building mechanics that had characterized all of the previous C&C RTS titles.
Ban in China
The Generals series is banned in mainland China. Throughout the Chinese campaign, the player is occasionally made to utilize heavy-handed tactics such as leveling the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre after it becomes a GLA base and destroying the Three Gorges Dam to release a flood on GLA forces. Chinese forces also liberally use nuclear weaponry in-game, albeit restricted to the lower tactical nuclear weapon yield range. Furthermore, in the introduction of the game, Tiananmen Square and its surrounding areas in Beijing is decimated by terrorist nuclear weapons.
Ban in Germany
Initially, the game was released in Germany under its international title Command & Conquer: Generals. However, due to the then imminent Iraq War, the Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien (Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young People) placed the game onto the "List of Media Harmful to Young People" two months after the initial release, which, by law, forbids further public advertising and any sale for people under 18 years of age. The BPjM stated that the game would give underage people the ability to play the war in Iraq before the real war had even begun. Additionally, the player would be able to kill civilians. Based on these two points the BPjM put the game on the Index, because they believed it glorified war. Therefore, sale to minors and marketing the original version of the game were prohibited throughout the Federal Republic of Germany.
Due to the ban, EA released in the middle of 2003 a regular title-localized German version specifically for the German market called Command & Conquer: Generäle, which did not incorporate real world factions or any relation to terrorism. For example, the "terrorist" suicide bomber unit was transformed into a rolling bomb and all other infantry units were changed into "cyborgs" in order of appearance and unit responses similar to earlier releases of the Command & Conquer franchise.
In September 2003, an expansion pack called Generals - Zero Hour was released, which continues the story of Generals. In December 2011, a sequel, Command & Conquer: Generals 2, was announced, due to be released in 2013. On August 15, 2012, it was announced that Generals 2 would be repurposed to a free-to-play game known as simply Command & Conquer. The new game would have started with the Generals franchise and may have expanded to the rest of the franchise post-release. On October 29, 2013, it was announced on the game's website that it was ceasing production and that "this version of the game" would be cancelled, with refunds being issued for all money spent by consumers on the Alpha version.
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- Becker, David (2005-01-26). "Banned in Beijing: China cracks down on games". CNET. Retrieved 2012-08-27.
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