Westwood recently entered into a whole new ball game with the recently released C&C Renegade. Renowned for their excellent RTS titles, the FPS is completely new ground. Renegade always looked the part at trade shows and the multiplayer beta test was a good insight into the gameplay. The single player game was always going to be the one aspect of the game that got me excited. Running around the C&C world in full 3D, what an awesome thought.
In Renegade you play the role of Nick Parker or Havoc if you want to use your ‘hard as nails’ name . Havoc is stationed under the command of General Locke, a strict but tolerant man whose job is to keep Havoc in line. Havoc is a bit of a renegade, with an attitude you’ll be familiar with from the Commando in the original RTS, so he needs watching. The Renegade story simply involves Havoc belting through NOD territory and taking out various strategic objectives to put pay to NOD plans of global domination and dodgy tiberian experiments. You wouldn’t expect anything less really. There are other characters that crop up along the way but they don’t really play too much of a role on the overall gameplay.
The game kicks off in spectacular enough fashion with a tasty cutscene, in fact the cutscenes in Renegade are actually very well done with a shaky sort of fly on the wall camera deal going on and they do look good.
After getting a bit more of the plot and character background out the way it’s onto the first mission, although, the first mission is a bit misleading. As you get dropped into the action to protect a convoy you sit there thinking, ‘ awesome look at all this stuff like vehicles, I feel like I’m right there’. Yep, you do feel lie you’re right there and that’s always been the appeal of Renegade but it’s about to get all rather mundane.
As each mission loads the splash screen contains handy hints to help you get the most from the mission, the one saying ‘save often’ appears a lot but after you’ve seen a few of these it’s all pretty much the same. Here’s the weird thing about Renegade, once you start a mission you are updated with objectives throughout. These objectives pop up into the top right of the screen. Now with any game where you are given a mission you make sure you get the job done but with Renegade, after the first 4 or so missions you start to realise it doesn’t really matter what you do, most of the sub mission are just there to keep you busy, and you can in fact practically ignore about 60% of all the incoming messages, they won’t really effect the overall outcome in many of the missions. Missions are pretty run of the mill overall. Get this colored key, find this door open it and escape, or destroy this gun placement. *Yawn* I thought this sort of stuff went out a few years back. Come on guys, gamers are looking for a little more these days. The missions do get a lot better as the game moves on but you feel as if you’re just going through the paces.
A feature that will appeal to fans of the C&C series is the ability to get inside the enemy buildings. We’ve all seen them in the RTS but what goes on down in their depths can now be revealed. The buildings are well put together and it’s fun checking out what makes a power station work or finding out what goes on inside the hand of NOD. This is definitely a plus point to Renegade.
On Havoc’s rampage through the levels he is equipped with a variety of nasty weapons, everything from the trusty pistol to the flamethrower and rocket launcher. The weapons in Renegade are very nice but what you’ll find is you end up using the same weapon for the majority of the game, the machine guns. The weapon balancing is a little weird, some are just so ineffective against enemies they’re not worth your time. On the other hand the machine gun will take down just about everything in a reasonable amount of time. The other weapon that seesm wasted is the Grenade launcher which is so short ranged it’s pretty useless, and it would really have come in handy in a couple of situations.
So how does it look? Renegade is a mixed bag of eyecandy. Some of the game textures look really dated, especially doors which could have appeared in a shooter from a couple of years back. On the other hand some of the game explosions and vehicles do look fantastic. It’s a shame Westwood just couldn’t get everything looking bang up to date. This is probably down to the fact the game has been in development for what must be something like four years now. The character models do look good and are a credit to the artists, it’s just a shame the level textures don’t live up to the same standard. Like the graphics the levels are ropy in places. Some of the outside levels are great but overall everything just feels very linear, partly down to the pointless and irrelevant mission objectives that keep cropping up.
A feature we do like is rush of activity going on around you. Choppers drop troops into the action you can hear/see planes and helicopters overhead, it just adds to the overall intensity of the game world. Sadly though, despite how enthralling it can be, this just isn’t enough to make the game top-notch.
The game’s sound is suitably impressive, the effects on weapons and explosions are great, vehicles rumble around the battlefield or swoosh overhead, it’s all great stuff. Sound is always good in Westwood games and once again the sound department has come up trumps with the pumping techno-rock music and effects.
Vehicles are the buzz word these days in shooters and Renegade won’t disappoint. All the old favourites from the RTS series make an appearance and yes you can get into just about everything and let rip. Mammoth tanks, NOD Buggies, Medium tanks, Flame tanks it’s a driver’s heaven. The vehicles look fantastic and this is probably one of, if not the best aspect of the game. They are easy to control from the third person perspective and fit perfectly into the mission objectives where you can go so far before having to bail out.
Ok, now here’s the most irritating and laughable part of Renegade, the AI. I have no idea what the developer’s were thinking. This is a shooter, people who buy this game are likely to be reasonably adept with the controls and understanding on how a game like this should work. Out of all the recent shooters we‘ve looked at Renegade must have the worst AI we’ve seen in a long time. Soldiers running backwards, soldiers standing there like deer caught in headlights. You can simply run round levels with little fear because you know the AI is just so d** stupid they are not going to be much of a threat. For anyone who’s looking for challenge, our advice is steer well clear.
OK, there’s one saving grace with Renegade and that’s mainly down to the fact no AI is involved. The multiplayer game is fun. The C&C mode works well and things like dodgy textures don’t seem to catch your eye quite as much. The C&C mode pits 2 teams against each other with the objective being to take out the other team’s base to win the game. You need to make kills and harvest the tiberian to earn cash to get better weapons and vehicles for your team. The multiplayer games are exciting and the vehicles come into their own offering an interesting slant on strategic multiplayer gameplay.
To wrap up, Renegade was one game I was so looking forward to this year, it was up there in my top 10. Unfortunately Renegade turned out to be a disappointment and I’ll admit I’m pretty gutted. Renegade needs that extra bit of polish, certainly more work on the AI and some of the graphics. The game does capture the C&C world well but that’s not enough to make this a top title. Have Westwood lost the plot? Let’s hope not, they are one of my favourite developers and we’ve high hopes for the recently announced C&C Generals, the next game in the C&C RTS universe. The bottom line on Renegade, buy it if you simply must have a taste of more C&C, otherwise look elsewhere, there are better shooters on the market.