Command and Conquer Renegade marks the next step for FPS and RTS (First Person Shooter and Real Time Strategy) games - Or it should if it didn't fall short in a few areas. What we got and what we were expecting were two different things. I for one was expecting a kind of hybrid FPS and RTS where you could build a proper base then deploy troops and then take the whole thing into FPS mode and blast away with your men. I have to say in that respect I'm a bit disappointed - hell I'm quite disappointed really.
Renegade could have been the best RTS/FPS hybrid that Westwood could have made except they lost sight of the ideas or development and budget cuts hit them the same as they do other games. But let us not forget what they have given us is a good, fun, solid FPS shooter with added Vehicles. C&C Renegade throws you into the deep end as the wise cracking, ass kicking special ops Marine guy codename: Havoc and he's one of those character's you're either going to love or hate. Personally I love the hard-assed one-liners and total lack of respect for going by the book. Havoc blows things up and there's no conflict of interests on his part - his interest is in Conflict.
I've heard some people say that Renegade's game-engine and graphics are a little outdated and in some areas it's almost retro. Now I don't agree with this, I'm sick of hearing about the latest advance in graphics and this bell or this whistle. Where's the gameplay? That's what I want and I want it alongside some nice graphics, a good solid game-engine and a decent plot and storyline. Well to all the critics of the game I think that Renegade has these elements nicely balanced. Westwood have done us proud with the story of the central character and you never feel once that you are not the Hero thrust into the thick of some pretty deep crap, the whole thing oozes a kind of style that I wish more games would employ. There are enough enemies to keep you occupied and enough going on to make you want to explore the fairly linear but very detailed environments for powerups or bonus objectives.
The levels themselves are big and the missions can take a good hour or two to complete, it's fun charging around structures like the Hand of Nod or the Obelisk of Light and they've given a decent amount of thought in the actual implementation of the buildings, who's inside them and how they fit into the world. Of course all the vehicles in single player are ground based and you get to play around with Nod Buggies and Mammoth Tanks to name but a couple, which are good for a blast. And that's the key thought behind C&C Renegade - it's good for a blast and what's needed after a hard slog at work, usually mindless violence.
Renegade's sound is great, the roar of the engines, and the sound of bullets as they whistle through the air and impact on your armour, you or the environment is nicely done. The spot effects are excellent with some truly humorous conversations going on around you if you can listen in. The mix of weapons between handguns and powerful explosives is good, the special effects on the Satellite Rain are absolutely wonderful - the way it starts to rain and then the beam pours down slowly getting stronger until ground zero and things start to explode.
Enemy AI is adequate and the buddy AI is pretty good too, only a few times do GDI make a mistake in the field, and overall this again adds to the suspension of disbelief as you run around trying to cover your own ass - or theirs. They've dropped the old Sniper Rifle in and at least Renegade's a game where you actually get to use it a great deal. There are some large levels where Sniper Fire is the key to success or getting your ass toasted by hordes of arriving NOD Reinforcements. Nothing more than I love in a game is a Sniper Rifle. Then of course there are the cinematics, taken with the in game engine, showing off the animations of the characters quite nicely. They drive the story forwards and have enough twists to keep you entertained. The voice acting is pretty much fine too I didn't really have many complaints about it at all. My one gripe about the game is that unless you have a lot of mates, decent speed to the net the Multiplayer isn't really a great addition to it. With Westwood releasing a patch that will add flying vehicles to the gameplay this might help out those who have decent connections or enjoy one on one games on a small LAN. But for the LAN user and the single player the MP element of C&C Renegade seems to be a late minute additional letdown. Some great maps, some nice ideas have been overshadowed by a lack of Bot support for proper offline play. Sure there's a training mode with one map, but we wanted AI bots like in UT so you could team up with a AI team or a buddy and take on the odds. It would be nice if Westwood would put these features in with a later patch or even an upgrade pack but I don't really see it happening.
So is it worth buying, yes and no, yes for the great Single player game and if you enjoy the kind of Multiplayer that C&C Renegade offers - attack opponents base until destroyed or you're destroyed yourself. I will note you can't build new structures but the vehicles and units are all there (Except for the flyers at the moment) so it kind of comes across as a cheaper version of Team Fortress Classic (Sorry Westwood) and leaves you feeling a bit flat. We can only hope that the mod teams capitalise on such a good game and engine and start to really rock the boat as people did with UT, until then, Wolf out...off to blast some NOD!