Kane and still able.
I’m all in favor of celebrity worship, I just wish we worshipped the right celebrities. Whether our daily bread is sleazy speculation (Lindsay Lohan a lesbian!?), or an asinine update (Kate Hudson loves puppies, presents!), it seems like we know too much about people who know too little. Yet, we don’t know nearly enough about obviously alcoholic actors who, after appearing in the original Star Wars films, can only get work in video games.
Sit down, Carrie Fisher
, for I speak of Billy Dee Williams. That’s right, Lando Calrissian
, the real
dark side of the force, and a man we should all admire. For he uses his powers not for good or evil, but for malt liquor
. And according to Billy Dee, “I drink, you drink. Hell, if marijuana was legal, I’d appear in a commercial for it.” Amen!
[image1]He’s also the most unusual feature in EA’s new Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars
. In fact, he’s the only
unusual feature in a game that otherwise feels just like the old Westwood versions
, in spite of the fact that it’s been developed by EA LA this time around. Like a cold Colt 45, this game will get the job done if you’ve already consumed all the other liquor in the house. Happens to me all the time.
Like always, the GDI and NOD are at odds about the future of the world – the GDI wants one, NOD doesn’t. Yet when an alien invasion threatens, NOD (with a nearly audible “Dey terk er jerbs!”) sides with the GDI to save the planet, so they
can be the ones to destroy it. Within this framework are two lengthy single player campaigns (NOD and GDI) and a short Scrin campaign, punctuated by classic Command & Conquer
cut scenes starring Grace Park, Michael Ironside
, that guy who plays Kane, and of course, Billy Dee.
Everyone seems to be dutifully playing their parts in what they know is a dramatically bankrupt project. Except for Billy Dee, who plays the Director of the GDI, yet acts like he’s trying to talk a hot babe into a threesome. So really, it’s just Billy Dee playing himself.
Within the campaigns, many of the missions expand as you complete primary and secondary objectives, though the maps remain small by modern standards. The objectives themselves are from the oldest tomes of RTS design, and see you destroying enemy bases, defending bases of your own, competing in monkey banana raffles, escorting VIPs, and blowing stuff up as a commando. Unfortunately, one of those things is not in the game, and it’s probably the only one that got your attention.
[image2]Playing Tiberium Wars is a lot like playing several other Command & Conquer games, with a few differences. You can build units and structures from a handy-dandy tab under the mini-map without returning to your base, and you can conveniently issue multiple commands to groups of units by entering command mode. You simply press Control + Z, issue a bunch of commands, and then press Control + Z again to make your troops execute your orders. It’s a quick way of setting up hit-and-runs as well as patrols.
The Scrin are the other major new feature, although they aren’t as different from the GDI and NOD as you might think. In fact, each faction is essentially the same, the Scrin just have superior air power, plus some sneaky utility moves like teleportation. Fun to play, but nothing to phone home about.
This means that every faction has to deal with Tiberium Wars’ short but annoying list of pesky flaws and foibles. For example, the game is way too picky about where you can and can’t put your structures. Even so, it’s still possible to build yourself into a trap, where your newly produced units get completely stuck unless you sell something to clear the way. And even when units aren’t boxed in between buildings, their path finding sucks. Infantry units, in particular, love to jaunt through tiberium fields. Like a bad friend, the game seems to delight in this; rather than telling your wayward infantry to go some other way, it immediately tattles on their trespasses with the passive/aggressive “Tiberium exposure detected!”
Tiberium fields, by the way, are the only environmental hazards in the world. There are no fires, floods, or banana raffles (next year?) to burn, drown or entertain your troopers. The environments are as flat as a day old Colt 45, and just as refreshing.
[image3]The online multiplay is easy enough to log into, and matches are easy to find. What’s interesting is that the games can be broadcast, and if you download a client called BattleCast, one person can assume the role of announcer, calling the game as it happens. I have no idea how or if this will ever be used, but I like it.
The graphics are good for a Command & Conquer
game, but unimpressive next to Company of Heroes
or Supreme Commander
. The camera doesn’t pull back far at all and the units look extremely plain, although the explosions and laser beams look flashy and even a little awesome. The music is more than a little awesome, but not so good that you’ll remember it an hour after you stop playing.
But what does any of this have to do with celebrity worship or malt liquor or banana raffles? Not nearly enough, but I’ll do my best. The game is as homogenous and unimaginative as a tabloid cover, and is as far past its prime as Billy Dee Williams. It’s still a decent RTS, but it wins with quantity, not quality, just like Colt 45. The graphical upgrade is nice, the campaigns are long, the multiplayer is ample, and the skirmishes skirmishy, but the whole thing is about as predictable as what you all know I’m about to say next – monkey banana raffle.