A command performance

This is the third and apparently the last installment in the Tiberium series that was launched by Westwood Studios in 1995.

combat disk 88 (photo credit: )
combat disk 88
(photo credit: )
Command & Conquer: Tiberium Wars, a DVD-ROM by EA, distributed with a 56-page Hebrew-language user's manual by Hed Artzi Multimedia, requires Windows XP and up and a 1.9 ghz Pentium 4 PC or better, for ages 16 through adult, NIS 219. Rating: ***** If the government and the IDF had prepared for and carried out the Second Lebanon War with the planning, precision and cunning required to play this outstanding real-time strategy (RTS) game, there would have been no need for the Winograd Committee to investigate their shortcomings. This is the third and apparently the last installment in the Tiberium series that was launched by Westwood Studios in 1995. The series was very good from the beginning (we gave C&C: Generals four-and-a-half stars in 2003), but this latest version is the best of all, and while fighting is its raison d'etre, there is absolutely no blood or gore. It's the year 2047 (not so far off) and the place is the world as we know it. The fighting occurs in many points around the globe, from the US to Brazil and Croatia to Australia. The human good guys are called the Global Defense Initiative (GDI), which has a very powerful, organizing fighting force. The human bad guys, called NOD and headed by a bald leader named Kane, is composed of small bands of guerrilla forces who inflict painful damage on GDI (does this sound familiar, fellow residents of the Middle East?). There is also an alien race of bad-guy fighters called Scrin that boasts a lot of frightening power. GDI's most formidable weapon is the ion cannon, while NOD's is the nuclear missile and Scrin's is a black-hole capability that sucks everything up. There are plenty of tanks, flamethrowers, lasers and other weapons on all sides. Tiberium is a toxic luminous, green metal crystal brought to Earth by aliens that has infested much of Earth and must be controlled to prevent total contamination (don't worry, friends, there is no such real metal; the name was invented, even though Tiberias is a city of ours). The world according to C&C is divided into blue, yellow and red zones, with the blue ones free of Tiberium and safe for habitation, the red ones absolutely uninhabitable and covering about a third of the globe, and the yellow ones partially infested by Tiberium and populated by large numbers of people who are potential NOD recruits. You take the post of GDI commander and go through a training session to learn the ropes. Then go into the single-player campaigns, with some 35 missions split into acts, which you can play as head of any of the three fighting forces. There is also an on-line multiplayer for those who want the game to last even longer than the 20 or so hours it takes to complete it. EA hired relatively well-known voice actors such as Michael Ironsides, Joseph Kuca (who plays the fearsome Kane), Jennifer Morrison, Billy Dee, Grace Park, Tricia Helfer and Jennifer Morrison. Their characters also appear in excellent full-motion cut-scene videos. The missions have pretty much the same structure: You have to build a military base, amass materiel and other resources, produce military units and then try to overcome the enemy. A female character appears regularly in a window on the upper-right-hand corner of the screen to update you with intelligence data. There is nothing innovative in the concept, but EA carries it out extremely well. The graphics engine is excellent, the dialogue intelligent, the interface intuitive, the campaign maps helpful, the sounds lifelike and the action challenging (for those who like the RTS genre). The game's artificial intelligence is also adaptable, and you can choose guerrilla, steamroller, turtle and other styles for it. The only problem I had with the game is that it crashed from time to time, but when I downloaded a "patch" from the EA Web site and installed it, the annoying glitch was solved; the patch, however, should have been included in the original DVD-ROM. As there is no dialogue printed on the screen and the language is fast, furious and complicated, teenage boys and young men who comprise the vast majority of RTS gamers will have to have a very good command of English to command and conquer this disk.