Also available on PlayStation, Nintendo 64, Mac OS, MS-DOS, and Windows
Command and Conquer is a name almost synonymous with the real time strategy genre, and the original game is one of the absolute classic PC games of the mid 1990s. Originally releasing in 1995 for MS-DOS and Mac OS before being ported to Windows, Saturn, and PlayStation in 1996 and Nintendo 64 in 1999, the original Command and Conquer remains an extremely fun and playable if rather dated strategy experience, and while RTS is not known as a genre that makes the conversion to console particularly well, the Saturn did a surprisingly good job of it.
The basic story of Command and Conquer is pretty similar to the real world Cold War scenario that took place before this fictional setting; there are two main powers, the UN-backed Global Defense Initiative and the enigmatic and cult-like Brotherhood of Nod, and the majority of the world's powers back one of the two. The unofficial subtitle for this first Command and Conquer game is Tiberian Dawn, and it marks the start of the Tiberian series, one of the main series within the Command and Conquer franchise. This naming scheme is because of a new extraterrestrial resource that appeared around this time called Tiberium with the military conflicts between Nod and the GDI being in large part resource wars. There are two campaigns each with 15 missions. In one of these, you play as the GDI trying to wrestle control of Eastern Europe away from Nod. In the other, you play as the Brotherhood of Nod in an attempt to solidify your control over pro-GDI sections of Africa.
What makes most RTS conversions for consoles stumble is the controls as RTS really needs a mouse and keyboard to work truly well. That hasn't really changed here, but the Saturn pad does do a surprisingly good job once you get a feel for it. It never felt quite as natural as a mouse, but I had no trouble whatsoever controlling my units. As for content, while the Windows version certainly looks a bit nicer, and the Nintendo 64 version had some cool looking 3D models (despite lacking cut scenes), the Saturn version is a virtually perfect port of the DOS original. No content has been cut from the original DOS release, and while the Saturn version does lack the extra 15 missions from the Covert Operations expansion that PC got (it was included in the PlayStation release, as well, although that version ran a bit slower and had lower quality audio), the fact that the audio is virtually identical to the PC release and the game runs smoothly with no slowdown that I noticed makes this the version to play if you are (for whatever reason) not going to play on PC. I played on Saturn because I wanted to see how it held up, but I did play through the Covert Operations missions on PC to compare. Those are just random scenarios, though, and aren't related to the storyline, so I didn't really care that much about those.
Although the game is most known for being a pioneer of modern RTS gaming, that gameplay actually isn't the highlight; the FMV cut scenes and soundtrack are. The soundtrack is absolutely fantastic with a style of rock you just don't hear these days. The cut scenes are 100% pure mid 90s cheese, and it's absolutely amazing. They're absolutely shameless and a perfect example of "so bad it's good," and that's something the series has become somewhat known for. It's honestly worth playing through for the music and FMV scenes alone even if you're not a fan of the gameplay.
Command and Conquer has not aged well, but it's still quite playable and an absolute classic. If your options are wide open, I'd definitely recommend the PC version, but it's really remarkable how well the controls hold up on Saturn once you've spent a mission or two getting a feel for it. Being nearly 25 years old, it doesn't look as impressive it probably did once upon a time, but the music is just as awesome as ever and truly the most unforgettable part of the game. Regardless of what version you play be it PC, N64, PS1, or Saturn, Command and Conquer is definite must for strategy game enthusiasts.
My Rating - 4 Neps
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.