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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Real-time Strategy

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

EA Pacific

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

October 2003

 

 

- Generals Challenge is a great addition

- Expanded arsenals

- Great online play

- Still looks great

 

 

- Lip service to FMV cutscenes

- Multiplayer can be maddening

- Didn't really fix any of the pathfinding problems

 

 

Review: C&C Red Alert 2 (PC)

Review: C&C Generals (PC)

Review: C&C Red Alert 2 - Yuri's Revenge (PC)

Action Figure: Havoc (C&C Renegade)

 

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Command & Conquer Generals: Zero Hour

Score: 6.5 / 10

 

Normally, I don’t spend huge amounts of time with the online aspect of any real-time strategy (RTS) – or any game for that matter – mostly because of the different variables involved: disconnects, lag, and cheaters.  With the current technology I really have no excuse for not dedicating hours to the online component of a game and Command & Conquer Generals: Zero Hour really drives this point home.

 

command & conquer generals zero hour pc review          command & conquer generals zero hour pc review

 

As a single-player expansion, Zero Hour delivers.  With five new campaigns each for China, USA and the GLA, new units and even a bit of full-motion video (FMV), the action is more intense than it ever has been (provided you’ve got the hardware to run it properly).  Of course, you still have some truly bad AI pathfinding (both on and offline) but where Zero Hour really shines is the online play and Generals Challenge.

 

The Generals Challenge puts you in the boots of a specialized General for the three sides (for a total of 9 different Generals).  Each General essentially receives specific “bonus” attributes.  For example, selecting GLA’s Dr. Thrax as your character your tanks start with toxin shells but you can’t “cloak” units.  Or, my favorite, the USA’s General “Pinpoint” Townes that gives you access to the laser tank and reduced-price Avengers.  For each General that you choose and battle there is a pros and cons list to consider, which heightens the tactical aspect (in a rock-paper- scissors way) as you take on each General – exploiting weaknesses and playing to your strengths.  But where the wheat is separated from the chaff is online.

 

command & conquer generals zero hour pc review          command & conquer generals zero hour pc review

 

The seemingly simple modifications to the basic structure of the three sides will either have you crying or smiling.

 

If you don’t know your stuff (hotkeys, etc.) stay away from the online games!  Even after plugging through the Challenge mode and having an understanding of the various tech trees, I still suffered mightily at the hands of very skilled opponents.  I would just have my fifth building constructed, one or two combat units ready and 

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suddenly I’d be facing a barrage of tactical nukes followed up by a sweep of ground units.  You’ll be made to feel small and inadequate – like me when my opponent built 10 nuclear missiles silos because he was “bored”.  I was throwing everything I had at him!  Fortunately, you don’t always have to play one-on-one; up to four players aside can take part.  Matches seem to either end quickly or are drawn out affairs.  If it’s not over in 5 – 7 minutes then prepare for at least 20 minutes.

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Zero Hour plays lip service to Command & Conquer’s glorious FMV cutscenes of yore with between-mission newscasts.  I say, “lip service” because the FMV is so limp it could have been dropped and not missed.  (If EA ever revisits the Red Alert universe, let's hope they splurge on the budget and give the gamers what they want -- entertaining, if somewhat hokey, skits.)

 

In short, Zero Hour will keep fans of Generals going with its subtle, if far-reaching changes.  It puts at least a cherry on the "vanillafication" that was Generals. (Read the Generals review for an explanation.)

 

And if you see me online… please, go easy on me.

 

- Omni

(November 23, 2003)

 

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