February 10, 2009

Command & Conquer or Die Trying

There are real hardcore fans of Command & Conquer series. They collect all the different releases of the games in the series, they make their own movies and write stories based on the C&C universe, and so on. I can call myself a hardcore fan of C&C as well, but my obsession spanned only over a single game in the massive series.

I first read about C&C on the Internet. At the time Internet was a beautiful and new thing (at least where I lived), and I didn't know anyone who had access to it at home. That included me as well. I was spending hours and hours surfing the Internet at my father's work place and that's how I stumbled over an article about the original Command & Conquer game.

The first thing I've done after reading about the game and drooling over the screenshots, was downloading the demo version. I've already admired the previous Westwood real-time strategy, Dune 2, and completed it a dozen of times, but when I launched the C&C demo, I was stunned! The game was shockingly marvelous. I played the demo, and I am not exaggerating, over a hundred times. That's how I became hooked up.

It was nearly impossible to get the game around the parts I was living at, so I was only hoping to play the full version of C&C some time in the nearest future. My hopes came true. A pretty big LAN gaming center opened in my hometown and it was possible to play Command & Conquer there! I used the opportunity and played through several levels of the game but it was way too expensive to play as much as I wanted.

I was still dreaming about playing C&C in the comfort of my own home, when my family went on a trip to the capital city. I used the opportunity to visit the only game store in my country at the time. While in the store, I had only one goal - to find a copy of Command & Conquer. And that I did! A huge beautiful box of Command & Conquer Gold (not the same edition which was a bundle of C&C and C&C: The Covert Operations or the enhanced version of the original game, those also featured the word "gold" in their title, but were released much later)! I spent nearly an hour begging my father to buy the game (it was pretty damn expensive) and he caved in.

When I got home at the end of the day, I finally got a chance to open the box. The gold edition contained a glamorous poster, a CD with C&C soundtrack composed by Frank Klepacki, a CD with Dune 2, game manual and a 2-CD case with the game itself! I think I will cherish this day forever.

I can't tell how much I was enjoying the game, I played it numerous times and couldn't get enough of it. I became literally obsessed with that wonderful game.

After some time, Command & Conquer: Red Alert was released and appeared in my country. Immediately, I knew that I have no other choice but to buy it. After buying the game, I was as exited to come home and open the box as I was with the first game.

And this is almost the end of my story. Even though Red Alert was a great fun, in my eyes it wasn't as good as its predecessor. The game had a totally different style, it featured comical movie sequences and the gameplay was just not as addictive as before. Up until this day I remain confident that Westwood went in the wrong direction with Red Alert.

Since Red Alert, I never completed any other game based in the C&C universe. I surely played almost all of the C&C games and enjoyed a few of them at some extent, but not a single game was able to compete with the original. But up until now, I continue playing the original Command & Conquer from time to time. Only recently, I have completed it once again. It still remains a jewel. At the time it was much cooler than the game from the competition, Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness. I even consider it to be better than, can't believe I am gonna say it, Starcraft, which was released 3 years later, in 1998.

And to finish the post, I am gonna mention some facts related to buying Command & Conquer.

Command & Conquer was released during the summer of 1995, I strongly believe that I bought it during the winter of 1995-1996.

I brought the C&C poster with me to the dorm when I enrolled at the university and left it there when I moved out because it was already in a pretty bad condition. Dorm life, what do ya know! I still have the music CD and the C&C game CDs, both in their original cases, in my collection. Not sure what happened to the Dune 2 CD, but I feel certain that the game box and the manual were thrown out by my mother after I moved out to study. Oh well, mothers, she threw quite a lot of original game boxes I had collected by the year 2000.

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