I'm the mechanical man!
We are pleased to have you join the Brotherhood of Nod. With your help, we shall free those countries that have been conquered by the merciless Global Defense Initiative (GDI). The world needs the strong leadership of the charismatic Kane in order to survive. You shall be our command operative in Africa. By systematically removing the GDI forces from the area, you will secure freedom for the inhabitants of the area. Oh, if the inhabitants don't wish to be freed, shoot them. You had better not fail the Brotherhood.
Thus begins the Brotherhood missions in Command & Conquer, newly released for the Saturn and PlayStation. As fans of the game know, you may also play as the good guys, the GDI (but who in their right mind would want to do that?). Based off of the Dune II engine for the PC, Command & Conquer is the first real-time war strategy game for the Sega Saturn. Westwood Studios did an excellent job bringing this game to the new platform. With good graphics and all the FMV from the PC version, fans of Command & Conquer are sure not to be disappointed.
Well, they might be a little disappointed by the FMV because some parts of it are just as bad as the PC version. For example, Seth, your revolutionary terrorist commander is terrible in his acting debut. In fact, he's the least threatening terrorist I could imagine. He seems more like a sensitive new age type. Sort of a combination of Stewart Smalley and the Shining Path. However, the rendered parts of the FMV are still excellent.
The graphics for the Saturn and PlayStation versions are a little smoother than their PC counterparts. Where the PC and Mac versions are jerky when you scroll around the map, the Saturn & PSX versions glide along. All the little character animations are the same, right down to the minigunners running gun drills while they are inactive. It's still hard to tell the difference between many of the infantry when they are grouped together, but that's to be expected.
The Sony version has come out about one month later than Sega's, but the differences between the Saturn & Playstation versions are minimal as far as gameplay and graphics are concerned. The PSX version, however, does have one significant bonus: more missions. The PlayStation disks have the regular C&C missions, plus the 15 Covert Ops and 5 brand new missions exclusively on the PSX.
The background music gets a little repetitive, but is still fun. Little snippets of conversation are thrown in alongside a deep baseline. If someone can explain what the "I'm a mechanical man" song has to do with world domination, I would be impressed. The sound effects are exactly like the PC version, each unit responds to you as if through a communications link. Eva, the computer voice, patiently tells you the status of your base and units during the missions. Command & Conquer's sound effects and music were very well thought out and needed no updating.
The control for Command & Conquer is a little difficult at first. Because it's one of the few games to use all eight buttons, you may inadvertently make a mistake in the middle of a firefight. Like the PC version, you can designate groups to respond at the push of a button. Unfortunately, you can only designate three groups due to the lack of a keyboard. However, unlike Dune II and WarCraft II, there is no limit to the number of units that you can control at one time. This game is one of the few for which I would recommend reading the instructions first, even if you have already played the PC version. You will never be able to figure out some of the commands because they involve certain button combinations.
Speaking of the instruction booklet, I have to yell at Westwood. Ahem... NOT EVERYONE HAS PLAYED COMMAND & CONQUER BEFORE!!! I don't care if you have sold a million copies worldwide, that still leaves about 5 billion people who don't know how to play! There is nothing in the instruction booklet about any of the units. It doesn't tell you that recon bikes can be run over by tanks or what the hell a hospital does. WarCraft II for the PC came with an invaluable diagram listing the all relations of buildings, units, upgrades and weapons. There was nothing like that for Command & Conquer for the home systems. There is one sentence in the instruction booklets that tell you that an airfield lets you produce ground units (makes sense to me!). New players will have to bumble around for the first few missions until they get the hang of things.
With two CD's, one for NOD and one for GDI, Command & Conquer is a game that will take a long time to beat. Different routes lead to different maps, so even if you beat the game, there are maps that you haven't fought on. There are even hidden weapons in the game (can you find the nuclear weapons?). As a long time player of strategy war games, I can honestly say that this is one of the hardest. This game is a must have for Saturn owners who love this genre, and a great game for those who have never seen it before. Oh shoot, the GDI are blowing up my construction yard, gotta go!