Now here is a game with Flair, Rick Flair! Yes, everybody’s favourite Nature Boy makes an appearance to bark out orders as Commander Hill. More pleasing to the eye is the inclusion of Jodi Lyn O’Keefe, better known as the psycho Company assassin, Gretchen, in Prison Break. So with the FMV Commander sequences taken care of, how does the largest XBLA download stack up with other titles?
Firstly, lets just delve into the fact that this is a 2.1GB download, even to trial it you have to download the full 2.1GB! I believe that Microsoft removing the size restrictions on XBLA games was a good thing but this is getting a bit crazy. At 2.1GB the line is starting to be blurred between XBLA, Xbox Originals and even the new Games On Demand. Especially when this title is an expansion pack for a full retail game, C&C: Red Alert 3 – Uprising, turned into a stand alone version. And also lets not forget the ongoing saga of Xbox 360 HDD sizes and pricing and New Zealand data caps and costs. But these are topics for another time and place…
I haven’t really got stuck into a RTS game since the original Command & Conquer and Total Annihilation days so was looking forward to getting back to the series which started it all. Basically Commander’s Challenge is a set of 50 missions which you can tackle as either the Soviets, Allies, or Empire of The Rising Sun. One welcoming sign was the familiar sound bites, hearing “Construction Complete” and “New Build Options Available” for the first time took me right back and sat me in a recognised chair. Now to find out if the good old Tank Rush still works.
The difference between the three factions are large enough to be able to employ different tactics and expect a diverse amount of outcomes when playing each mission. Couple this with the special Command abilities, like the Soviet ability of dropping disused space stations on the head of their enemy, and you really do have to learn the pros and cons of each unit to be able to succeed with minimal casualties. As I found with my first Tank Rush, which was promptly pick off by some form of anti-armour unit, bigger isn’t always better. More advanced units aren’t available to you from the start of the game but are unlocked as you complete missions. This allows you to return to earlier missions and try and better your time with more powerful troops at your disposal.
The graphics and sound are good throughout Commander’s Challenge with an overall Soviet theme that makes you want to pull out the Vodka and shout Nostrovia! I love it. Control of your units is via a radial ‘Command’ menu which takes a bit to get use to but is not difficult to master. One problem I did have was selecting smaller units and items when zoomed out but, although not ideal, zooming in to select these units and then zooming back out did the trick. The variety and detail in the units often had me zooming in and circling around them just to check out the new tech that I had unlocked. I also found myself compelled to watch the Commander’s special attack instead of using the time to push home my advantage.
C&C: Red Alert 3 – Commander’s Challenge has enough replay value due to the 3 factions and unlockable units to keep most RTS fans happy. It’s a nicely polished game but with 2.1GB to play with it should be. C&C: Red Alert 3 can be picked up fairly cheaply on a retail disk these days so if you are short of HDD space that might be a better option. After all Commander’s Challenge is basically a stand alone expansion pack. But for those with the HDD space for 800 MS Points you can have a slice of the Command & Conquer universe at your finger tips. Should this be classified as XBLA or a Game On Demand? Well at 800 MS Points it is a great value XBLA title but at 2.1GB…. I’ll let you decide.
Released on 16/9/2009 for 800 MS Points.