Game Review: Command & Conquer: The First Decade (PC DVD-ROM)

I originally wrote this review in August ’06, and I’m reposting it here now because who the hell reads Gamespot user reviews? I know I don’t.

I was recently tremendously pleased to discover that I could snag myself all of the Command & Conquer games for a mere twenty English pounds. This was especially good given that I’d long ago sold or passed on my copies of C&C and RA, and had never actually played the respective sequels. When it arrived I beheld what is a rather elegant piece of packaging, and dug out the DVD extras disc. Yes, I watched that first, both to remind myself why these games were classics – and to raise my anticipation to fever pitch. I’m like that, you see.

I won’t go on and on about what I have and haven’t played. I’ll keep this review brief: it’s a user review, so I doubt anyone reading it cares too deeply about my opinions. In short, I’m disappointed with this package. This is not down to the games – in the last few weeks I’ve completed Tiberian Sun and Red Alert 2 and have thoroughly enjoyed both of them. I’m currently dabbling in the add-on pack missions, and they’re fun as well. So why the disappointment?

The main reason – and it’s a biggie, this is a god-laying-the-smack-down apocalyptic end-of-days sort of thing – is that Command & Conquer and Red Alert, those original, beautiful, Win95 classics, don’t run on Windows 2000. And EA didn’t bother even attempting to patch them, preferring instead to proffer an extended middle digit to anyone still using this common OS. Well funk you kindly, Electronic Arts, for your consideration.

Okay. Let’s leave that gross, glaring cock-up alone for now. Maybe it’ll be patched, eventually, either by EA or by the strong fan community. What else? Well, the extras DVD is a bit rubbish. There are a few fans babbling about the “cool lines” some minor characters had, or getting over-excited about the talents of the chap who plays Kane – more memorable than other C&C characters, but that’s not saying much. There are some snippets of fan videos, some of which are a bit funny. And there are a few meagre minutes of retrospective summary and nostalgia from those who developed the games. It’s utterly paltry and smacks of corporate disinterest.

From here on my niggles become more minor. The install process has no charm or character, and every time I add or remove any game or add-on pack I have to re-enter serial codes for games that I’m not adding or removing. Tedious. C&C: Sole Survivor is missing from the package. That’s not a big loss but it’s still a shame. Multiplayer for the earlier games reportedly involves farcical hoop-jumping. I don’t tend to play RTS games multiplayer so, hey, okay.

I’ve spent a lot of time complaining. This isn’t entirely fair. I’ve gotten a lot of enjoyment from this package. Unfortunately, with most of the games included being at least five years old, it’s clear that this sort of round-up can go two ways – a decent package, supported by its developers, and put together with love and respect; or a shambles, held together solely by the strength of what has been collated. The First Decade, sadly, is the latter. Try harder, EA.

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