The grandfather of the real-time strategy genre is back, improved and modernised while retaining everything that made it great – and in the process, delivering a game that still manages to hold up against the best in the business. In fact, Command and Conquer Remastered is such an exceptional piece of work, I’m almost in awe of the effort. Consisting of the original game and the Red Alert sequel along with all expansions, everything has been expertly remastered to work flawlessly on modern PCs while looking great on today’s displays, but this is a remastering effort that goes beyond the superficial: subtle but well-judged tweaks are made to the user interface and gameplay too and the pay-off is massive.
It’s easy to forget that despite relatively simplistic visuals – judged by modern day standards, at least – Command and Conquer was doing a lot of work for PCs back in 1995. It rendered a lot of animated sprites on top of expansive, destructible environments. Meanwhile, the full-motion video sequences for inter-mission campaign briefings were also state-of-the-art for the day. However, this was a game held back by the technology of the era. In-game artwork was of a low resolution, animation was limited, and it was often difficult to identify individual units – especially the similar-looking infantry. The remaster’s solution here is straightforward enough: artwork is redrawn at a much higher resolution, extra frames of animation are added and general movement is improved. There’s a careful, but effective approach to the remastering here and it’s deployed on every aspect of unit and environmental art.
It’s not just about the graphics either as the audio is also revamped – the low sample rates of the original audio are drastically improved, so gunshots, explosions, and unit responses sound clear and not as ‘crunchy’ as they did back in the day. On top of this, the game’s soundtrack is freshened up with new versions of the songs by series composer Frank Kelpacki joined by his band the Tiberian Sons. The remade songs are a delight, hitting the same beats and sounds of the original while also bringing new notes to the table.