Back when the C&C franchise was worth looking forward to…
And with that, DisCONNECT is back, or more specifically I’m back from clinical practice. As a parting gift, one of my patients or something that was floating in the hospital has now caused me to become sick. Thanks a lot, guys. I stay on my feet for 8.5 hours preparing your meds and checking to see that you’re not dying, and you give me influenza as thanks. If I was getting paid to learn, it might actually be worth it. Incidentally, this is issue #398 of DisCONNECT (the RDR Review below is 399) so the next issue, funnily enough, will be Issue 400! Are you excited? No? Then get out.
Once upon a time, when I was in primary school and we were all fighting over whether anybody really needed a 200mhz processor (and who would be the first to play Duke Nukem 3D on it when the person in question got it), one of my friends got a game called Command and Conquer: Red Alert. Now let me to put this in perspective for you – today, because the Internet has reached into the darkest corners of the Earth, everybody can find out about any new game simply by reading a website. Back then, there were three sources of info for new games. One was gaming magazines, and even at that stage people were like “What the hell is that?” The next was the “Ordering Instructions” screen in a game, which would advertise other products from that company. Unfortunately a lot of those screens referred to games that didn’t (and never would) actually exist. The final, and possibly most reliable method, was word of mouth from friends and The Sneakernet. So when I say my friend got a game called Red Alert, I can be forgiven for sitting there thinking “The hell is that?” and “Holy shit I have to try this.” at that time. What does this have to do with Renegade? I’m getting to it, keep your pants on. Please.
Red Alert, apart from Age of Empires and Total Annhilation, was pretty much the only RTS game my friends and I ever talked about in those early years. The friend in question who was given the game would sit down at the start of every lunch hour and go “HAY GUYS, WHO WANTS TO TALK ABOUT RA?” at which point I’d go “NO!” because I didn’t have the game and had no idea what he was talking about. Eventually I did get the game for my birthday, and man did I like playing it! Had jack shit clue what I was doing, but it was fun! When someone would sleep over we’d play for something like hours, every so often taking a break to act like strategic level generals discussing our brilliant base defences… who had to be in bed by 2100 and wanted to drink out of their Batman glasses. After a while the entire C&C series grew on me and I played the original Command and Conquer. All the while though, as with pretty much every single other RTS game I’ve ever played, I thought to myself “Man, I wonder what these buildings actually look like inside?”
This fascination would stay with me for ages… until they announced that a new FPS was in development based on the C&C universe. It was called Renegade, and the game promised to let you walk around and inside the buildings from the game! I don’t remember exactly what I was thinking at the time, but it must have been something like “HELL YEAH BITCHES, HAND OF NOD HERE I COME!” while I ran around pretending I was in a Mammoth Tank or something. Hey, I was young, and I could dream, right? For a while, it looked like Renegade wasn’t going to happen; it missed its original release date and there seemed to be a lot of changes going in with the images. Still, we lived in hope. Then the game came out, and I was running around shooting lasers and shit.
So what the hell was Renegade? Renegade was an FPS game based on the C&C universe, weren’t you paying attention? It’s set in the final days of The Tiberium War, which was what C&C (the first game) was about. The Brotherhood of Nod have kidnapped three of GDI’s top scientists or something. You play as Nick “Havoc” Parker, who has to go get them back. The major appeal of the game isn’t so much in the storyline, but in the fact that you’re in the C&C universe. A vast chunk of the units and buildings from C&C were lovingly created here for you to walk around and shoot to pieces. Ever wanted to mow through NOD infantry, or drive a Flametank? Go for it! Ever wanted to see how big a Harvester really was? Walk up to one and have a look! It was all possible with Renegade, and you’d frequently have to infiltrate NOD structures and get the chance to explore them to see what kind of things they contain. Fun fact: the NOD barracks has a mock woodland environmental training area. Or was it tropical? Can’t remember. Not all of the game is spent sneaking around Construction Yards, but a fair chunk of it is.
Then there’s the multiplayer aspect which still has a small following even today. It was something akin to playing an FPS/RTS hybrid; each side had a fully constructed base with a Harvester for collecting Tiberium and vehicle/unit training facilities. You had to destroy the other team’s base. You used Tiberium to collect credits to buy new weapons and vehicles. And… well, that was pretty much it, actually. Still it was pretty entertaining, and since then there have been lots of mods released which recreate other universes. There’s even a standalone Red Alert mod.
Ultimately however Renegade wasn’t a big hit. Why? Really, it’s a pretty standard FPS game. Its only claim to fame is that it’s tied with the C&C universe. “Big friggin’ whoop” was the general reaction from a lot of people. It felt a bit rushed too. When Westwood fell apart and the series started to go off the rails a bit (like with RA3 and C&C4), any hopes of a second Renegade more or less went out the window. It was a fantastic experiment, but it didn’t catch on. I guess people just aren’t as interested in seeing RTS games in an FPS view as you’d expect. Still, if you’re into C&C, you owe it to yourself to play this game.