Summary: Westwood wets its feet in the FPS genre with CnC Renegade. It's always tricky when a company gets away from its core competency - does Westwood avoid the pitfalls in Renegade? Find out in our review.
Developer: Westwood Studios
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Command & Conquer: Renegade official home page: http://westwood.ea.com/games/ccuniverse/renegade/
Just what the doctor ordered
Renegade is an idea that people have been slobbering over for years: Take the popular Command & Conquer universe and make a first-person shooter out of it. The C&C universe is a strong franchise known to PC gamers everywhere, so it makes sense to attempt to cross genre lines. Through its numerous incarnations and expansion packs just about everyone knows about the GDI, NOD, and Tiberium.
No one wants to be a cannon-fodder unit. Instead you get to be one of the heroes of the RTS games, a Commando. But you’re not just any commando, you’re Havoc, a 100% cliché Special Forces grunt who doesn’t like authority, works alone, and womanizes anything with a pair of breasts. Havoc is stationed under General Locke, your other cliché army general that has a problem with anti-authority grunts, but knows how to handle them.
There’s a thin plot about saving some scientists and stopping NOD from taking over the world (duh) but it’s about as exciting as the worst B-movie you can find at Blockbuster. From the cut scenes in Renegade you’d think, Westwood could make a killing in Hollywood producing B-movies with the endless amounts of clichés and bad dialogue. Expect to see Shannon Tweed coming soon to a Westwood game near you.
400 MHz CPU
Win 9X/2000 with DirectX 8r
96MB of RAM
950MB Hard Disk space
16MB Video card
1 GHz CPU
512MB of RAM
GeForce2 or better
Cable/DSL for online play
Look kids! It’s a dinosaur!
Renegade has been in the works for a couple of years now (I remember seeing an early beta at E3 2000), and unfortunately, it shows. The engine looks like a Quake 2 mod rather than a modern engine. All of the models, from buildings to characters to vehicles are big and blocky. There’s next to no definition in any of them. In other words, there are very few polygons in the levels or models to show detail. The textures are just as bad. Even when on high-detail the textures are very simple. In terms of definition, Renegade is like a simple water color painting where most FPS games lately are as fine as electron micrographs.
Renegade has serious problems with bounding boxes. Bounding boxes are the areas of a character model that you can shoot. If you remember Quake I, the bounding box was slightly larger than the character model, which meant you could shoot the air next to a model and still cause damage. Many games nowadays use the exact character model as the bounding box – if you hit the model you cause damage. In Renegade however, the bounding boxes are smaller than the character models. To make matters worse, the models are skinny to begin with. How do you overlook something so basic to an FPS? The worst problem this causes is that you can see an enemy peeking out from behind a structure, but since the bounding box is too small you can’t shoot him.
One design aspect that I can’t comprehend is the 3rd person view when using ladders. Every time you climb a ladder, the view automatically switches to a 3rd person view where you can’t shoot or look around. This may be “realistic” that you can’t walk up a ladder backwards or that you need both hands to climb, but nothing else in this game is remotely realistic, why make climbing ladders this way? This feels like something that got lost in the production.
Westwood is known to have some of the best music tracks in the gaming industry. I don’t know what happened during the making of Renegade, because the music is completely forgettable. There are plenty of FPS games have that a soundtrack that Westwood has been known to produce; I can’t understand why Westwood decided to cut Renegade out of the loop.
When will the hurting stop?
Renegade’s single player campaign is too short, and too easy. On standard mode I finished the game in less than 10 hours. A combination of short levels and push-overs for enemies helped move things along. Everything is pretty easy until the last mission, which is damn near impossible. I could get by with 2-3 reloads per level until the last, which took me 18 reloads. I was shocked when I found the last mission so difficult since everything before it was a cakewalk. This shows that Westwood had some real trouble pacing difficulty in this game. Most games increase difficulty linearly as the game progresses, but in Renegade everything is easy until the end.
The AI in Renegade is laughable. Most of the time enemies will run right at you and shoot blindly. I thought that kind of AI went out with Doom and Duke Nukem. There’s also the “run into a door” tactic, or the equally effective “duck and look the other way”. Vehicles are just as bad. Every time I’d see an Apache helicopter I’d chuckle because I knew that it would never hit me and spend most of its time shaking back and forth and warping around the map. The friendly AI is even worse, if you can imagine that. It seemed like every time I had to escort someone they would do nothing but run ahead of me (faster than I could) and get in front of every enemy possible. They would do nothing useful but draw fire away from me.
The scripting in the single player breaks all of the time. I lost count of all the times when the spoken orders from EVA cut off mid sentence. How lame is that? You’re supposed to be getting orders and all you hear is half a thought. You can also break the order of goals – sometimes you can skip a secondary goal without even knowing it. Some of the levels don’t guide you to the goals since the door/path you need to go through is hard to see. Mistakes like this just show a general lack of polish.
Guns and Hotrods
Renegade’s weapons suck. For example, the basic “bullet” weapons hardly do any damage unless you hit headshots (which is damn near impossible with the bounding box problems). The Flame thrower and Chemical Sprayer only work with straight sprays, so it’s useless to use against moving targets. The reload time is way too long for every single weapon (and there’s a bug where you can reload a fully loaded weapon).
So close, and yet so far
The concept of multiplayer Renegade is good. The CnC mode features two teams and two bases with buildings that give you money, vehicles, and infantry upgrades. You buy vehicles and infantry upgrades with money that you get when your automated Harvester brings back Tiberium. You get bonus money for killing enemies and their vehicles. There are many different player classes as well as vehicle types. These ideas have been around for a while – the close-to-vaporware (I still have faith!) Team Fortress 2 has been touting multiplayer games like this for years and many mods have similar ideas. Renegade promotes teamwork by making everything difficult to do on your own. Engineers can heal teammates and expensive vehicles, enemy buildings are very hard to destroy on your own, and everyone tries to protect the team’s Harvester since everyone gets the cash it brings back.
Unfortunately, an idea is nothing without execution. The net code in Renegade is atrocious. Even when connected to servers that reported less than an 80ms ping it felt like I was playing with a 250+. Lag is made worse when most of the weapons in the game are hitscan. How do you aim hitscan weapons when it takes half a second for the server to recognize that you pulled the trigger?
Westwood needs to balance the weapons in multiplayer. At first I thought that it was just hard to kill people, but it’s actually that a lot of weapons don’t do much damage, while the rest do way too much damage. For example the Volt Auto Rifle can kill very quickly – a few passes from this Lightning Gun wannabe and you’re dead. On the other hand the Auto Rifle can take forever; it’s like trying to kill someone in a pillow fight. These discrepancies unbalance the Vehicle vs. Infantry battles as well. It is hard to take out a vehicle as any infantry unit. Now I know it’s more “realistic” this way, but it’s not much fun. Why bother being an infantry unit when they’re almost useless against vehicles?
Another big problem with multiplayer games is that the automated defenses are too good. The GDI Advanced Guard Tower and the NOD Obelisk never miss, and shoot you automatically if you get in their range. You’re hosed if you try to enter an enemy base. The only way to get by these defensive structures is to use a vehicle with your teammates and try to destroy them (or the power station). This means that infantry are next to useless in assaulting bases – the irony being that you spawn as infantry and the point of multiplayer is the destroy the enemy base.
SIDEBAR: Team Fortress 2 was originally slated to be a mod for Quake 2. Then a mod for Half Life. Now it’s a stand alone coming “soon” from Valve. Of course they’ve been saying that it’s coming soon for more than 4 years now… but I’m not bitter.
Command & Conquer Universe:
|<% print_image("32"); %>||<% print_image("33"); %>|
|<% print_image("34"); %>||<% print_image("35"); %>||<% print_image("36"); %>|
|Gallery||Page:: ( 7 / 7 )|
|© Copyright 2003 FS Media, Inc.|