Command & Conquer: Generals
|Command & Conquer: Generals|
Command & Conquer Generals cover art
|Publisher(s)||EA Games (Windows)|
Aspyr Media (Mac OS X)
|Programmer(s)||Jeffrey Lee Brown|
|Series||Command & Conquer|
Mac OS X
March 12, 2015
|Genre(s)||Military real-time strategy|
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 X version was developed and published by Aspyr Media. The Mac OS X version was re-released by Aspyr for the Mac App Store on March 12, 2015. 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 part of the Generals franchise and was cancelled on October 29, 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 the People's Republic of 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 goal is to eliminate the military forces of China and the United States.
The Chinese campaign starts with GLA forces launching attacks on Chinese cities, starting with the detonation of a stolen Chinese nuclear warhead in Beijing during a military parade, which kills thousands. In a separate attack, the GLA destroys a bridge leading into Hong Kong to decimate a Chinese armoured division. Undeterred, the Chinese manage to hold off the offensive, despite having to destroy the Three Gorges Dam in the process in order to stall the GLA's advance and regain the initiative. Now on the counter-offensive, the United States provides air support to the Chinese as they launch a counterattack into GLA-occupied Balykchy, almost completely destroying the city. The Chinese then learn that the terror cell responsible for the attacks across China has been located in Dushanbe, and a massive Chinese attack is ordered, using nuclear weapons to finally put an end to the GLA incursion.
Despite losses against the Chinese, the GLA's influence in the Middle East as well as its strong presence in Kazakhstan is relatively unaffected. To continue the war against America and China, the GLA acquires cash by raiding United Nations convoys as well as causing mass riots in Astana. Resurrected in the Middle East, the GLA now once again poses a significant threat. The United States fully mobilizes against the terrorists by raiding the GLA's toxin deposits in the Aral Sea as well as deploying the might of the US Air Force against the GLA's troops. The GLA responds by attacking the Baikonur Cosmodrome, where it intends to use the Cosmodrome to fire long-range toxin missiles at highly populated cities in Europe and abroad. (An attack of this magnitude is introduced during the first US mission in the expansion pack Zero Hour. The missile is fired at an American naval base somewhere in Northern Europe, prompting the U.S. to respond.)
The United States military deploys to Iraq, Yemen, and eventually Kazakhstan to liberate the countries from GLA control. The GLA reacts by firing Scud missiles against American forces, and ambushes an entire U.S. division in the Hindu Kush in Afghanistan. Despite its losses, the U.S. continues the offensive, and even moves to neutralize a rogue Chinese General who has given the GLA nuclear weapons. The U.S. is able to defeat the renegade and prevent the nuclear weapons from being used. The American resolution to destroy the GLA culminates with Operation Last Call, a joint American-Chinese assault on the GLA capital of Akmola, Kazakhstan. Pulling no punches, the capital is liberated from GLA control, and the world celebrates the end of GLA tyranny.
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 United States relies on an arsenal of high-tech weaponry and a dominant air force; however, it is the most expensive army in the game to maintain. China relies on the power of propaganda and hordes of troops and tanks to overwhelm their opponents, the drawback here being that its troops must be able to form the larger army in the match. The GLA is considerably weaker in a head-on engagement, and must rely on underhanded, sneaky, shoot-and-scoot tactics to defeat its opponents.
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 (U.S.A and China: Construction Dozer. GLA: Worker.) 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, targetable "spawn points" to drop or create groups of units anywhere on the map and even earn cash when you kill an enemy unit.
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. A chevron on a unit's picture represents that it has become a Veteran. Two chevrons represent Elite and three represents Heroic. Elite and Heroic units are the ones who can heal and repair themselves. Also, the more chevrons a unit has, the more damage it inflicts.
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 United States. 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 the U.S. 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.
A replacement online option has been developed by Revora. The software, instructions and support can be found on CnC Online.
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, as well as in the television shows America's Most Wanted and BBC's Top Gear.
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 has absolutely no Air units of any kind other than a Cargo Plane for Reinforcement Pads and Anthrax Bombs. They use sneaky attacks like flank and stealth to gain advantage over their enemies.
- American units are technologically the most sophisticated faction, usually more expensive, but possess better damage, armor and unique abilities that increase survivability and combat effectiveness. Additionally, U.S. 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. In order to be effective, these units must be produced in large quantities to benefit from their horde bonus.
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 terrorist 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.
Generals received a "Silver" sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA), indicating sales of at least 100,000 copies in the United Kingdom. The game's Deluxe release received another "Silver" award from ELSPA.
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 much of Beijing is destroyed by a stolen nuclear warhead.
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" (e.g. Red Guard becomes Standard Cyborg) 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. In November 2013, EA announced the game will still be developed by a new game studio, and customers who bought the Command & Conquer Ultimate Collection will still receive an invite to the Beta. EA is currently finding a new developer for the reboot.
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