Let's face it: everyone wants to be Rambo (minus the cheapo headband - that's soooo 80's), a one-man army who can single-handedly turn the tide of battle just by his sheer presence. Though the whole Chuck Norris-with-bigger-muscles/Arnold-without-that-silly-accent dream has died out a bit in the theaters, it's a staple in gaming, particularly first-person shooters. From Wolfenstein and Serious Sam to classics like Half-Life and even Doom, fragging is often a dish best served by a rebel without a pause button.
When Westwood decided to expand upon its hallowed Command and Conquer franchise by cranking out an action-oriented romp called Command & Conquer: Renegade, we were all very excited. When they announced that it was both a first-and third-person game and would allow you to run amuck in the classic C&C universe, we were all very thrilled. When they unveiled the unique multiplayer C&C Mode that would, essentially, allow the whole GDI/Nod conflict to take on real-world proportions, we were as stoked as Robert Duvall surfing the break in Nam.
Unfortunately, a rather large Obelisk of Light almost fries your ride to ashes before you even reach the barracks. So you park it a safe distance away and go about finding another way in. You slip in the back door of an adjacent building and wind your way through the insides, wiping out the pesky engineers lurking within, and emerge right next to the obelisk. You enter the base of the obelisk, do away with some more guards, and blow the puppy up with some explosives from the inside out. Then back to the buggy and on to the barracks for a final assault.
So yeah, this game should rock. But in case you need more convincing, check out the brilliant multiplayer mode. Though the game also comes with standard Deathmatch and Capture the Flag games, C&C Mode is the stunner.
The premise is obvious: two teams square off in a classic Command and Conquer battle, GDI vs. NOD style. Two bases, plenty of vehicles and tons of soldiers make for the kind of team-based multiplayer that's all the rage, except this one takes place in a universe that we all already know and love.
The laws of C&C govern the game - namely, harvesting and processing Tiberium to keep the base functioning and the reliance on power plants to keep buildings operational. You can play as a number of different units for each side, though it costs points to upgrade, similar in a sense to the weapon purchasing in a game like Counter-strike. There are four 'levels' of advancement, though the specific units differ between GDI and Nod.
Basic units include Engineers (who can heal and repair buildings), Grenadiers and Base Troops, but eventually you'll earn enough points (if you're good enough, that is) to 'purchase' higher level units. Playing multiplayer as Havoc, who comes armed with a wicked sniper rifle, or Sydney Mobius, who totes around a portable Ion Cannon, can sway the tide of battle. Likewise, Nod biggies like General Raveshaw and his rail gun can quickly turn the tide back.
We see a lot of multiplayer games that make big promises but wind up delivering a marginal experience. In a class move, Westwood has taken great care to ensure that the multiplayer will be just about flawless by the time Renegade ships. The beta test has been going on for several months now and works very well. By the time Renegade makes it into your hard drive, getting online and kicking some real person ass should be a snap.
In the meantime, let's hope the folks behind Renegade put the proper finishing touches on what is certainly an impressive rocket in their pocket. Expect this elite soldier to ignite store shelves in late February.