Command & Conquer Feature
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First Play – Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn Old School Gaming

I take a step back into the past and relive an old classic that started one of the most successful franchises in computer game history.

My first memory of the series was when I was eight. My best-friend wouldn’t shut-up about this game his older brother had. So I snuck onto their family PC during a sleepover and had a few rounds of Command & Conquer: Red Alert while everyone was asleep. It was glorious.

Fast-forward to 14 years old and found a copy of Command & Conquer: Generals at a rental video store. I played it on my parents Dell Optiplex in the office of their hotel. I loved it. Only this version was nothing like the original game I played at my friends house. It was 3D and produced by Electronic Arts.

Westwood Studios Title Screen

The original Command & Conquer game was released in 1995 by Westwood Studios. It follows the success for their previous title Dune II (1993) which laid the foundation for the RTS style of  Warcraft/Starcraft/Age of Empires etc. It was released on PC, Playstation, Nintendo64, Sega Saturn and Mactintosh.

Command & Conquer Mac

Tiberian Dawn, Red Alert and Tiberian Sun are now freeware. You can download the games at cnc.net – a fan-site dedicated to the C&C universe. They’ve done a great job maintaining a platform for modern users to multi-player and single-player.

Dell Optiplex Pentium 4

A Dell Optiplex similar to the one my parents had

Starting the game brings that old familiar smell. That low budget 90’s vibe where the game looks like it was made by a couple of people in a basement. The heavy use of green capturing a hacker vibe of the era. The music has that rasp that suggests something heavier than it really is.

Command and Conquer: Tiberian Dawn

Starting a new game opens with the choice between the two sides ‘Global Defense Initiative (GDI)’ or ‘Brotherhood of Nod’. The two logos suggest a traditional ‘good vs evil’ or ‘paragon vs renegade’ (Mass Effect). The game is heavily influenced by the Cold War particularly by choice of protagonists.  You’ll find subtle clues the game favours American style of ‘Global Defense’.

GDI vs Brotherhood of Nod

Tough choice

My favourite thing about the Command & Conquer series is the cut-scenes. There’s something terribly beautiful about the combination of poor acting and CGI that makes me smile. It gives the game a new dynamic in storytelling. Sweet Shark sums this up the beauty of old cutscenes well.

GDI Guy

“Nod forces have fortified this beachhead at X16Y42”.. I’m sorry where?

The game starts fast. It puts you in limited control and showcases the game-play well. You construct a base and move troops around the map to reveal beneath the ‘fog-of-war’. You encounter enemies that you need to guide your troops to fight. Some troops or vehicles are stronger than others and have special abilities. You can produce more and build how you like based on the terrain. This gives the game freedom.

Gameplay Command & ConquerIt’s a hard game. You constantly get overwhelmed by random enemies. You need to micromanage your forces, use terrain and special abilities to gain an advantage. This is made hard by poor controls that cause your troops to walk past enemies and not engage! A victory is always to destroy the opposing force.

Command & Conquer Failed MissionThe story-line is interesting. It distract from the linear game-play and gives you something to look-forward too. There’s a few twists and back-story however, you really just get thrown into a more difficult level with extra weapons to play with. It’s fun – for a while.

Brotherhood of Nod Guy

What are you smiling about?

The game ends with a news reader explaining the state of the world. She is clearly sadder with a Nod victory rather than the GDI victory. I found the story relating to Tiberian lacking. It came from a meteor and is killing everyone and the world yet we use harvest it for money and fight each other with the profits?

It’s an amazing game for it time. There are a few problems but as a whole it’s creative, simple and well executed. Sure it has lame acting, but you ignore it’s faults as it creates an interesting world and is a fun game to play. A pioneering effort by Westwood.

And the music, who can forget the music.


You can access Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn here.

A special thanks goes out to Nyerguds and the team of contributors for helping keep the game playable and supported. I had a couple of problems running this on a Surface Pro 3 on Windows 10:

  • Game wouldn’t start – solution run in comparability mode for Windows XP Service Pack 2
  • Uncontrollably Sensitive Mouse – Override High DPI Scaling Behaviour

If you need help running the game. Consult the forums.

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