Kane lives ! … sorta …

There was a lot of anticipation last week as EA finally released the C&C 3 Demo and being an avid fan of C&C myself, I downloaded it first chance I got. Here are some of my impressions.

This is the first C&C game in the Tiberium series that hasn’t been developed by Westwood. After EA closed the studio, they reorganised the development team into EA LA. A lot of employees grew unhappy however and went on to other ventures, the most notable one being Petroglyph which gave us the very solid Empire At War last year. And although EA LA has been churning out decent games in the recent past (C&C Generals, Battle for Middle Earth, etc.) many among the devoted C&C fan base were worried if EA could deliver superb RTS gameplay while remaining true to the series. This demo gives us the first part of the answer. Is it everything we (and by we I mean me) have hoped for ? Sadly no.

cnc3logo.jpg

Let’s start with the graphics. Sure, the Sage engine provides slick visuals coupled with very polished lighting and environment effects. Tiberium has never looked better. But time hasn’t stood still in RTS land. Company of Heroes set the bar very high when it came to things like fysics and interactive environments. Sadly C&C 3 hardly compares. There is next to ZERO interactivity in this demo. Tanks don’t run over cars, break Tiberium crystals or knock down fences. The only thing they seem to be able to affect are trees and it’s not even that realistic. Next up: water animations. Sure it looks nice just sitting there. But you fire a huge cannon at it and what happens? Nothing at all. I could go on for a while but suffice to say that the graphics, while superficially stellar, are actually a notch below the likes of Company of Heroes.

Sound: I have no gripes at all with the sound effects, they’re all very well done and sound realistic. The music however is another matter entirely. You can tell that Steve Jablonsky did his best to imitate Franck Klepacki and while he get’s close he just doesn’t cut it. In previous C&C games you’d be thrown right in the action, from the very first mission with songs like “Hell March” or “Nod Crush” (you can find almost all of them on Klepacki’s site). The tracks present in this demo seem dreary by comparison.

But the worst part is probably the Full Motion Video. FMV’s always were a tradition for Westwood and C&C with the best ones arguably being found in Tiberian Sun (Spoiler Alert!) and Emperor: Battle for Dune and it was a big disappointment when EA announced that they would not include FMV’s in Generals (although they swiftly realised the error of their ways in Zero hour). When EA announced that they had hired the likes of Billy Dee Williams, Michael Ironside, and Grace Park to star in Tiberium Wars our hopes were high. The return of Joseph D. Kucan as Kane sealed the deal for many people. But after this demo I’m guessing a lot of people will just be staring blankly at their screens. Think about it: what’s worse than bad actors performing badly? Good actors performing badly. In the early days of C&C we could forgive the inexperienced actors because of the low budget. And that forgiveness resulted in progressively better acting with the likes of James Earl Jones and Michael Dorn delivering very nice performances . So it’s sad that aside from Joseph Kucan none of the actors (so far) have been convincing. I mean, did they even do two takes of certain scenes? I’m hoping that this will be resolved in the final game as we will see a lot more interaction between different characters and less the stereotypical one man talking to a camera ( Come on EA, that never really worked, did it?)

So, I’m guessing by now most people will think that I consider this a vey crappy game. I don’t. I’m going to buy it anyway, if just to see the conclusion of the storyline. C&C 3 is a very good RTS game, delivering polished traditional gameplay with flashy graphics. That’s why a lot of magazines will probably give it very high scores. I don’t however consider it a good C&C game and judging by this demo I’m guessing a lot of the fans will be disappointed. Or maybe not. This is just a demo after all. Who knows, maybe the full game will blow everyone away. Maybe, in a couple of weeks you’ll find a post her where I say I was wrong all along. I for one don’t really think so.

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