The Command & Conquer series defined the RTS genre, creating a blueprint that would be copied and used as a basis for other games to be built on. Apart from being one of the first of its caliber, the C&C series also set a high bar that made the genre a staple amongst gamers for several generations.
Though the series has seen its lows, the highs were indeed part of some of the best video games. Here are the top five best Command & Conquer RTS games of all time.
Command & Conquer
The original Command & Conquer was a genre-defining game that’s near and dear to the hearts of many gamers. This title would typically be at the top of any list when nostalgia is a factor. However, it’s undeniable that its ideas were still in their infancy. That isn’t to say that the game isn’t deserving of praise. For a first attempt, the controls and gameplay are snappy, giving you the feeling that you’re controlling a mighty army. The story’s FMV cutscenes are also legendary, with performances that to this day remain fondly remembered by anyone who played this title in its heyday. And let’s not forget the title’s banging soundtrack with its hard rock and heavy metal tunes mixed with electronic vibes.
Command & Conquer: Generals
One of the few good C&C titles produced after EA acquired and liquidated the series creator, Westwood Studios, Generals was an attempt at making the games more contemporarily grounded in reality. Where previous titles strayed closer to the sci-fi side of things, Generals was loosely based on the real-world war on terror and the conflicts that arose from issues you’d see in the news. The title also made some interesting changes to base building and management as well as resource gathering. Some may balk at the way Generals trades the campier, over-the-top stories of other C&C games for a more grounded narrative. However, it’s executed well and doesn’t stray too far from the epicness the rest of the series is known for.
Command & Conquer: Red Alert
Red Alert was initially meant to serve as a prequel to the original Command & Conquer. Through a combination of massive sales and a bonkers narrative of its own, though, it spawned an entire spin-off series that would contain some of the most popular RTS titles of all time. It’s highly praised for taking the formula introduced by the original C&C and making it better while simultaneously improving upon or doing away with its shortcomings. It’s also the first title in the series to bring air and naval combat into the fold, creating new strategies for annihilating your foes.
Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars
Although EA’s time at the C&C helm has been rocky, there’s something to be said about Tiberium Wars. As a title in this legendary series, it stands as a true testament to how a game can both hit those modern design high notes while still retaining its soul. EA’s coffers were also put into good use with notable actors returning to reprise their roles, such as Joseph D. Kucan as Kane. Gameplay-wise, Tiberium Wars is one of the most intuitive titles in the series, with near-flawless controls that allow for unprecedented control over the battlefield. The narrative, admittedly, does go off the rails even by C&C standards, but otherwise, it’s an enjoyable, fun ride from beginning to end.
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2
As the final game in the Westwood Studios C&C saga, Red Alert 2 was a fitting swan song. For starters, the story is the embodiment of over-the-top epicness that balances things out through truly dark events. It’s a tale of betrayal, paranoia, and mind control taking place within the context of a massive global-scale conflict. The gameplay is also so solid that it holds up incredibly well even by today’s standards for RTS titles. Units and structures are varied, with almost everything having a use in a variety of situations. Finally, the soundtrack and cutscenes are masterfully put together, delivering an atmosphere that very few games in the genre can ever hope to match.