Friday, 11 November 2011

Command & Conquer: Renegade (PC) - Guest Post

I've got a present for ya!

"But mecha-neko, Command & Conquer is a real time strategy game! Have you completely lost your mind?"

No, young hypothetical person, I have not gone insane! This is Command & Conquer: Renegade, the FPS spin-off game where you play as the Commando unit! The very same Commando unit from those awful, frustrating missions where you don't get a base and you have to keep all your units alive.

It'll be all I can do to not just walk under the tracks of the first tank I see just to spite the bastard.

It's got a crazy rave intro just like Metal Gear Ac!d 2, complete with flickering colours and text and logos all over the place. The installer had an EVA theme like the original C&C, which was nice.

Once upon a time, a GDI convoy was heading down a narrow ravine, searching the area for a hidden Nod base. This must be the poor group that gets sent off on the suicide mission into the blackness on the edges of the map.

The CO (is that Dale from King of the Hill?) gets a funny feeling and orders the convoy to halt. It's too quiet.

It's an ambush!!

Nod soldiers pop out of their elevated positions and slaughter the GDI troops before they can react! What, or indeed who, could stop such carnage?

"Eagle 1, we're sending in a Commando!"

A Commando is a good idea against the infantry, but he's going to be splattered by that Nod tank!

Thankfully, the enemy tank is destroyed by the time I get there, thanks to the wonders of friendship and teamwork. There's Nod all over the place, but they're extremely good at hiding.

There's one of them now! Die Nodbag!

They keep pouring out of the caves and standing idly on these ledges. This doesn't seem to be the pistol that the Commando has in C&C but I'm not complaining because it does the job.

Nod have got reinforcements of their own. I can shoot the soldiers as they rappel down the rope. Tee hee!

When all the soldiers have been defeated, the helicopter explodes. I guess we must have had a rocketman somewhere.

With all the Nod forces at this point defeated, some Engineers are dropped in to repair the GDI Medium Tank. The familiar 'three arrows' entrance symbol appears on top of it... do I get to drive it? You're damn straight I do!

Although this looks really cool it was the Engineers who destroyed the barrier, not me. Confident little bugger didn't even bother to get clear of the charge before setting it off.

It's all go in the next area!

There's a GDI Orca helicopter flying about shooting missiles, a Nod Chinook dropping more reinforcements to defend the Tiberium Harvester that you can't see for the explosion. On my side, there's another tank and a Hum-Vee sitting around like idiots getting shot by Nod Rocket troops.

Nothing beats the GDI Medium Tank! Nothing!

With most of the GDI COs injured, I'm now leading the force to find the Nod base, which must be nearby due to the appearance of the Tiberium Harvester.

RETREAT! We've found the Nod base, but it's protected by an Obelisk of Light!

The Obelisk is a great big laser tower that destroys anything that comes within a few hundred metres of it. The red light on its tip means it's charging and it's about to fire. There's a loud ZAOUM and the Medium Tank to my right is annihilated. I can't do anything!

No, you idiots! You can't send in the Orcas! They've got SAM Sites all over the place! Don't you know anything?!

If it works, it works. Sucks to be the Orca pilots, but I'd do the same thing if I was playing GDI. If I was playing Nod, I'd have a replacement Obelisk in my construction queue so the poor GDI saps wouldn't have made any progress. I love Obelisks, me.

There's an invisible wall preventing me from attacking the Nod base!

There's a moment of silence, some glowy blue particles, and then the GDI Commander lets loose the Ion Cannon! Cutscene complete!

YEEEAHHHHHH! GDI wins again! Havoc has a bit of a pose in front of a Mammoth Tank while some Orcas fly overhead. UNITED NATIONS RULES!

Gosh, that was fun. Sure it was 90% cutscene and 10% me trying to find where the heck the Nod soldiers were hiding, but it was just the prologue. It gets you used to both the on-foot and vehicle controls and it has some explosions in it.

Where the hell did the Mammoth Tank come from anyway? Maybe we were the suicide squad that gets sent into the blackness after all and there was a GDI base a short walk away with the player hammering the Medium Tank button... Building Unit Ready Building Unit Ready Building Unit Ready Building Unit Ready.


Nick 'Havoc' Parker doesn't know the meaning of subtlety. Sadly there's no FMV in Renegade. I'd have loved to see the bizarre discontinuity between seeing Havoc as a 2002-era crappy, bucket-headed 3D video game character in-game and seeing him as a real guy in desperately serious cutscenes, but what can you do. Neither me or Havoc pay much attention here until Brigadier General Locke says the magic word.


Havoc runs out the door, steals a hovercraft and heads off to liberate Nod occupied EXTREME MACHISMO.

The Brigadier General is pissed but sends all available units to help Havoc anyway because he's a nice guy.

"If he survives, I'll pin a medal on him. Then I'll have him shot."

Here we see Havoc arriving on the Southeastern shore of the island.

THAT'S your radar? Looks like some shitty computer game to me.

GDI structures, pre-rendered in beautiful 3D! Using the same models as in game. With a crappy codec.

Why did they even bother?

TSK TSK, where's that white tank gone?

C&C-like dancey action music is primed and ready to go. Let's do this!

First up, shoot all the Nod guys that are stuck halfway inside the walls of the GDI base structures, then find where the base commander himself has gone.

Blimey these structures are BIG. Bigger than they seemed in C&C. Takes a couple of minutes to walk around the entire Construction Yard.

Nobody shoots up my base but me, you hear!?

The Commander of this base is hiding in the shack to the right. LIKE A COWARD. My reward for rescuing him is a bunch of Ion Cannon targeting modules. I can chuck them at a structure and the Ion Cannon will then fire on it. Sounds great, but it sounds rather dangerous if I have to be next to the thing I want to destroy.

I'm going to try playing in third person view for a bit. Like SHOGO, you can change between the two at any time on foot, but in Renegade, vehicle controls are always done in third person.

Havoc's absolutely useless against this blockade of Nod tanks. If only there was a scripted event here to clear the way.

"Reinforcements have arrived."

Thanks, EVA. You're awesome as always.

It's a GDI Guard Tower! Not quite as lethal as in C&C because there's nobody in this one. What a great help.

Here's a familiar C&C scene: the GDI Gunboat is floating about aimlessly, getting the crap blasted out it by these Nod turrets.

Time for some C4!


Oh hey, destroying the turrets allowed a hovercraft to arrive and bring me my very own GDI Medium Tank.

Don't mind if I do.

Yeaaaahh! That was a neutral truck! I blew it up because I'm in a TAAANK!

What the hell am I doing?

In Renegade, you've got the Primary objective and loads of Secondary objectives (some told to you, some hidden). Completing the Secondary objectives, such as destroying SAM Sites, gets you reinforcements, but you don't have to do them.

That GDI base is pretty pathetic. It's got a Construction Yard and a Power Plant, a couple of Guard Towers and that's it. No Barracks, no War Factory, nothing that can produce units. It's not even doing a very good job of defending the accessible shore to the South as there's another one on the West side. Sell that base and hope you get an Engineer out of it. (I'm kidding. I can't build or use structures (as far as I know). I'm not the Commander, I'm just Some Bloke.)

There's only one way to go, North along the twisty road. There's a few Nod units here, but they're no match for the mighty Medium Tank.

Ha ha ha! I'm a lot more effective than I am in C&C!

Oh snap.

This didn't happen in C&C. Well, that's the end of that Tank. I can't push it over and it's losing armour points rapidly. Bang. It's dead.

Don't try to drive up steep walls, kids.

The way forward was blocked by those diabolical X shaped things anyway, so it's fine.

I've only just noticed that I've started off with the Commando's signature silenced pistol. It's not as good at long range as I'd like it to be. The Light Machine Gun can hit the soldier at this range, but the pistol can't. Also, Havoc's massive brick head isn't filling the screen like Sanjuro's does in SHOGO, plus he's animated rather well.

I've found a church! Don't worry, GDI're comin'!

This sniper rifle's only really useful at very long range, when you can't use the LMG. There's a massive delay between shots, so I'm losing health like crazy here.

Why can't every sniper rifle be the PSG-1 from the Metal Gear Solid series? (Or the pistol from Red Faction?)

Back to the pistol!

Argh! No! Reload faster, damn you! There's civilians running around the church!

Too late. This one's dead. Argh!

It's not a mission failure, so I continue.

With the Nod troops outside the church dealt with, another Chinook carrying some useless regular GDI soldiers shows up. As does a Nod one. In fact, Nod are bloody everywhere. They're behind every corner, all the time.

Destroy the Harvester to slow production? Sure, I'd love to. It's not really what the Commando does, but I'll give it a shot.

Well, none of my weapons are having any effect. I could use C4, but I can only throw it a short distance. I'd have to walk across the tiberium to get to the Harvester.

It takes several charges and I'm left with single digit health, but the Harvester is destroyed. DON'T NEVER SAY CAN'T.

More Nod popping out from everywhere. There has to be a name for this. 'Contract JACKing'?

Unlike Contract JACK, the levels are big enough so that there's a chance for me to find cover before they fire, but the enemy are much better shots at long range than I am.

Am I anywhere near the Nod base? I've been playing this level for ages...

What's that behind me... more men?

Sure, more men!

I'm not sure these are real men, they disappear shortly after I kill them. Are they holograms or, worse, GHOSTS...?

It's the Hand of Nod! Feared producer of infantry!

Destroying the Hand is a secondary objective, which means plentiful bonuses upon its destruction!

GDI! Step aside, punks!

I'll chuck a block of C4 on the master computer here and run like hell.

Kaboom! That puts a stop to those constant reinforcements! Which... mostly came from the air... so destroying the Hand of Nod doesn't stop them at all.


Huh...? There are still people alive in there?!

I'm going to dive in and have a look around.

I have absolutely no idea where I am or what's going on. I'm outside again, except everything's red like the inside of the building was. I can't see a damned thing and I'm killed in seconds. There are no autosaves. Blah... should have listened to the prompt that told me to Quick Save often.

This time, I'm fully exploring the Hand of Nod. I assumed it would be just a couple of rooms, but this elevator has led me to a whole new area that I didn't see before. I've changed to the silenced pistol so I don't attract attention but I don't know whether or not it's working.

Wow, the Hand of Nod contains a vast underground base with many distinct levels. No wonder there were tons of blips on the radar. Those Nod bastards are forcing these innocent civilians to do exercise, which is totally UN-AMERICAN. I neutralise their captors and they run to freedom. I hope they don't get killed by any of those reappearing magic soldiers that keep haunting me.

If you've ever wondered what goes on inside a Hand of Nod, here's the answer. Vast rooms filled with absolutely nothing.

Here's the underground part I died in earlier. Nod trains their conscripts in vast underground artificial forests.

Not half shabby for just $300!

Down even further, there's a vault filled with weapons that I already have. There's a secret disc containing intel, but all it does is tell me that there's a Nod base to the North, which I kind of already knew.


You can also shatter the glass by walking into it. Havoc must shoulder barge everywhere like Wario. Alright, let's blow this place up one last time and move on.

Destroying the SAM Site outside beforehand got me a couple of GDI soldiers who've been completely unhelpful this entire time. I try to activate them to get them to follow me but they refuse to leave the Hand before I destroy it. Their loss.

If hundreds of Nod soldiers can survive the explosion, these guys should as well.

You know, it sort of dampens the mood and robs me of my satisfaction when 'destroying a structure' doesn't actually result in the structure being destroyed or harmed in any way.

Phew, it looks like I've made my way across the entire map now. It seems like hours ago I was at the GDI base in the Southeast.

I think it's cheating that Nod get to have multiple tanks and buggies, whereas I get only the one tank. If this is the only way to the base, give me a rocket launcher or something! I blew up the Hand of Nod and they didn't even drop me a box of weapons! I'm lucky that the Chain Gun seems to work on vehicles because none of my other weapons do.

Flamethrower troopers explode when you shoot them. Hooray!

Finally, I've reached the Nod base! There's odd soldiers around every corner, but I've gotten used to that. I've decided to constantly spin around to make sure nobody sneaks up on me. Destroying the Hand got me some more GDI soldiers, but they're nowhere to be seen. Thanks fellas.

The Comm. Center was built to be functional, not pretty.

Now where is that Master Control Terminal?

And where is everyone? What's the point of having so many desks if nobody's going to man them?

Oooh, it's a holographic projection of the mighty Kane, leader of the Brotherhood of Nod!

"Why do you interrupt me, GDI?" (doesn't sound like Kane)


I leave the building and detonate the C4, reducing the Comm. Center to a smoking, completely intact building. Gotta take this C4 back to the shop and get it checked, it's nowhere near up to snuff.

This is the Nod torture facility I've been sent to destroy. The torture Havoc has so desperately risked his life and the lives of his men for is... being forced to sit around in a field listening to a looping recorded message about how the GDI are fascists bent on uncontested global domination. By my count, there are five civilians here. FIVE.

I hit the switch, open the gates, everybody is rescued, and we all have a bit of a dance.

I think there's some kind of scale problem here. It makes more sense if you consciously suppress everything you see and pretend you've just saved hundreds of people instead.

As soon as Havoc returns to the carrier, he's immediately arrested... and sent out on another mission!

"Conflict of interest? No, heh heh. I got INTEREST in CONFLICT!"

Level two! Different graphics! I'll stop playing now because that first level went on for AGES.

The game hasn't worn out its welcome yet, but I'm fairly certain that it's about to. I enjoyed that first proper level as it reminded me of the stand-alone Ace levels from Mercenaries. The Ace levels in Mercenaries were tense because there were no saves whatsoever within the mission; you had to complete the entire island on one life. Renegade tries to match that tension and pace with its stupid C&C-esque dance music, but it tired me out. In Mercenaries, you could order weapons and ammo at more or less any time, but here you have to earn them, which sounds like a great idea until you find that they just keep shoving useless, uncontrollable soldiers at you instead of ammunition.

Unlike Mercenaries, Renegade automatically makes a separate save whenever you complete a mission, forming a level select. Pretty sure none of these games have done that so far. I think this is pretty important.

There's nothing terribly bad about Renegade and I compared it to Mercenaries. That might be the kindest thing you might ever hear me say about a game.

1 comment:

  1. I'm happy to see you enjoyed your time with renegade, when it was released I went ape for this game because I was a big fan of C&C, even getting into the razor thin plot. Its got alot of significant flaws, the most major one being the inability to properly destroy buildings yourself, only giving them a flame rash unless a cutscene destroys them, but I still thought it got a bad rap from the reviewers at the time who hated it with a burning passion. I didnt understand that and still don't, their main complaint was the barely-there AI, but that doesnt make any sense because there wasn't any game at the time that really did any better.


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