Command, Conquer, and wait

I started playing Command and Conquer 3 for the Xbox 360 this weekend, and I had the same reaction as when I belatedly played the C&C 2 games five years ago. It seems cool at first, and I imagine I’ll be into building all the different structures and vehicles and the cool new graphics (even though everything on screen is tiny). Then I start playing and realize how much waiting is involved. It seems like every level consists of waiting for a while as you build up a bunch of troops and vehicles, and then go bum rush the enemy.

There’s stuff going on while you’re waiting; because it’s a real-time strategy game the opposite army is always building and coming to attack. But you can’t complete the objective of each level (so far that means blowing up the enemy headquarters) until you’ve waited and built a whole bunch of stuff. I’ve only played the tutorial and part of two levels, but the game seems almost exactly like the previous version. First unfurl your base; then build a power plant; then build a barracks; then, uh, build soldiers; then a refinery to harvest “tiberium” (the mineral/currency of the game); then progressively more powerful vehicles and weapons. I can get into it to an extent because I have the Guy’s Rain Man Gene, but that’s not going to be enough to win me over.

Worse than the wait is that if you fail after all that waiting, you have to do it all over again. I couldn’t get past the second level on 3 tries (twice on easy level), and frankly I don’t want to again sit through the buildup part of the level (actually, the wait-for-stuff-to-arrive part; this level oddly doesn’t let you build, which is why I can’t figure out how I’m supposed to get enough troops and vehicles to blow up the enemy HQ). I will because I want to play a bit further in, but it’s pretty frustrating.

— May 15, 2007

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