The Command & Conquer series has come a long way since it first had a hand in innovating the real-time strategy game genre in the mid 90’s. Developers Westwood Studios, and later down the line EA Los Angeles, have proven that the game series has withstood the test of time in terms of both critical and fan reception- with of course a few exceptions, as is usual with most series.
Today we’re running through the development of the iconic RTS series, from the first game in 1995 to its current state of vagueness in game limbo in the here and now.
Command & Conquer – 1995
Like most games in the 90’s, the first Command & Conquer wasn’t eye-popping gorgeous, but it was a ton of hour-burning, brain-twisting fun. It’s hard to argue that Command & Conquer, along with its 1996-released expansion The Covert Operations, didn’t pave the way for future real-time strategy games. A lot of us spent a LOT of time in this game.
Command & Conquer: Red Alert – 1996
Command & Conquer: Red Alert followed in 1996, with expansion packs Counterstrike and The Aftermath debuting in 1997 and Retaliation in 1998. Considered completely unrelated to the original Tiberium series kick-started by the first game, Red Alert featured a weird alternate universe 1950’s setting and a more light-hearted, comic tone in stark contrast to the first game’s serious nature. The Red Alert series would eventually spawn its own spin-off titles.
Sole Survivor – 1997
Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun – 1999
The direct sequel to the first Command & Conquer game, Tiberian Sun featured snazzier 3D graphics achieved through a new isometric game engine. The game got the expansion pack treatment the next year in 2000 with Tiberian Sun – Firestorm.
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 – 2000
As the canon sequel to the first Command & Conquer: Red Alert game, Red Alert 2 continued the comic mood with anti-ship giant squids and crazy airships. And like its predecessor, it was received positively in terms of critical reception. The game got an expansion pack called Yuri’s Revenge in 2001.
Command & Conquer: Renegade – 2002
2002’s Renegade had the distinction of being the series’ first and only first-person shooter and Westwood Studios’ final Command & Conquer game before they closed down in 2003, with key developers carrying on development in EA Los Angeles.
Command & Conquer: Generals – 2003
Essentially a spin-off title and unrelated to previous games in regards to the canon continuity, Command & Conquer: Generals bore the honor of being EA Los Angeles’ first Command & Conquer game and being the first C&C RTS game that was fully rendered in 3D. And even if it deviated from C&C norms, it still brought home a Best Strategy Game award from E3’s 2002 Game Critics Awards. Its expansion Zero Hour was released in the same year.
2006 saw the release of Command & Conquer: The First Decade, a sizable collection that compiled the first C&C game up to 2003’s Generals. It was a worthwhile package to tackle before the release of…
Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars – 2007
Making its debut in 2007, Tiberium Wars was the canonical sequel to Tiberian Sun. Players were acquainted with a third faction called the Scrin, and a return to the RTS franchise’s glory days. Like most others, it got an expansion in the form of Kane’s Wrath, which was released in 2008.
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 – 2008 (Expansions: Red Alert 3 – Uprising and Red Alert 3 – Commander’s Challenge, both in 2009)
Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight – 2010
As the game that wrapped up the more serious Tiberium chronicles, 2010’s Tiberian Twilight strayed far off from the well-worn path by shirking familiar strategic elements like resource gathering and base construction. Understandably, the changes did not sit well with fans.
Command & Conquer: Tiberium Alliances – 2012
It’s easy to see that the Command & Conquer franchise has been molded into different shapes ever since the first title was introduced in 1995 as one of the most-played 90’s kids’ games. Its developers haven’t been afraid to tackle other mediums either, like first-person shooters and browser-based MMOs- all to varying levels of success, and sometimes even to the detriment of the series. As of now, we’re all in the dark with regards to the future of the franchise with the latest entry considered a flop, but it’s never wrong to hope.