Sunday, 22 January 2012

Command & Conquer

Since I first saw a Space Invaders arcade console I've been an addict of computer games. Entire lifetimes have been wasted as I've blasted pixelated creatures into flashing lights.

I still consume an inordinate amount of time on games like Bejeweled Blitz. The game only lasts a minute so it never feels like I'm going to waste time playing it. It only takes one game and then the rot sets in: I can beat my high score; it's so shiny... Ten, twenty minutes later and I wonder where the time went.

If Bejeweled is an epic timewaster in miniature, the Command & Conquer series has eaten countless evenings as I've devised strategy, practiced tactics and honed my reflexes.

EA excelled themselves with the original Command & Conquer. Red Alert went one better. I've never quite warmed to the subsequent releases but did pick up a copy of Red Alert 2 which claimed to work on XP and Vista. While it does work on both, Vista does not natively come with support for the IPX network protocol which allows you to set up a local network game. Playing a computer opponent is never as good once you've played against a person! Having downgraded to Windows XP late last year, I finally got round this weekend to reinstalling Red Alert and seeing if I could set it up for family Head-to-Head battle. My son and I managed to fight it out for the first time yesterday.

The Command & Conquer series reminds me of the first real computer strategy game I became hooked on: Elite. Both games are introduced with a story which sets the scene for the game. My copy of Elite came with the novella - The Dark Wheel - which introduced much of the gameplay including trading and combat; and characters such as the Thargoids.

While Command & Conquer and the sequels use mini movies, the effect on me was the same, creating a sufficiently believeable new universe that I was able to care about how I performed in the game.

Both games had clear goals: achieve greater rank and ultimate victory by fighting; build up your resources - Elite used a simulated trading environment while Command & Conquer has it's commanders playing farmer by harvesting Tiberian ore.

I'm now trying to see if I can install the game on a third computer and instigate a three way battle... It might not be everyones way of bringing the family together but I grew up with family battles over board games like Risk. It might not be productive but it's a whole lot of fun!

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