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My name is Kojak123 and I am a fan of retro games.
There, it's off my chest!
That means that despite owning a pretty fast gaming PC, an X-box 360, a PS3 and lots of other toys I am constantly drawn back to my old dusty and decrepit consoles and games like this little fella.
So, the game is essentially a battlefield RPG in which you have a top-down view and use the directional pad to scroll around the 'map', uncovering blacked out terrain directing troops and vehicles to enemy bases and tactical points around the surrounding area.
The main single player mode (campaign mode) gives a pretty good variety of challenges. Often you will have a set amount of troops and have an objective of attacking and taking control of an enemy base. Other times you'll have the opposite challenge of using your soldiers to defend your own base from waves of enemy troops and there are some special missions whereby you need to capture or destroy specific targets which are separated and spread around the map. Later as you progress through the game the real challenges begin - you're given a small budget and total freedom to build a base, allocate funds and create harvest facilities to keep the cash rolling in in order to keep the troops rolling out of the barracks!
Two discs mean twice the fun as well - each has you fighting for a different side - allied or soviet - both with different agendas, different missions and vastly different weaponry.
While the mission based one player game is fun, it has limited appeal due to the length. A hardcore gamer would clock this in under a fortnight and to be honest there is very little to entice a second run through.
Luckily, Command and Conquer Retaliation benefits from an absolutely inspired 'side-game'.
In Skirmish you may select any one of five countries to play as (two soviet, three allied) and choose from over 100 well designed set maps to play against 1, 2 or 3 other teams. There are three difficulty levels and dozens of settings to fight with as basic or advanced weaponry as is desired.
The player begins with as much as $10,000 and a mobile command centre (the start of a base). The idea being to hunt out a good open space, construct your command centre then begin adding buildings, defenses and weaponry.
As simple as that sounds, it takes some planning and organising. For example, nothing works without a power station, cash will quickly run out without a harvester and refinery bringing more in, cash can't be stored without a silo, silo's drain more power so more power stations must be constructed, the base is open to attack without strong defenses, defenses drain power, barracks and construction yards need to be built to train troops and build tanks...more power...etc etc etc!
Its beginning to sound a little geeky, but I promise you its a fantastically fun way to kill an hour!
There will never be the same result twice. The enemy AI varies from low to very high, meaning you'll never quite be able to anticipate an enemy response (brute force attack, tactical defense...)
Now the bit to seal the deal. If you own two consoles - easily do-able since playstation 1 consoles are under a tenner these days - and two televisions, they can be linked up via a cheap cable and two players can go head to head with the same game (two discs remember)! It takes some setting up, but it is tremendous fun for those with the patience to plug in a couple of wires and find a friend who enjoys playing C&C.
Yes, the graphics are poor, but they were poor in 1998 when the game was released. Visually it was never going to be cutting edge, but the addictive nature of the gameplay more than made up for its lack of colour.
If you own a first generation PS3 which plays the old games, or you still have a PS2, then grab a copy of this game. If not, get your hand in your pocket for a playstation 1 - there are a huge catalogue of games worth going back to that you'll pick up for pocket change. We're talking £1-£2 for some absolute classics!
As it happens, Retaliation isn't that cheap in terms of PS1 games as it was only a minor upgrade from C&C Red Alert, produced in low runs and rather rare, but shop around and you should find a copy without breaking a tenner.
Another forgotten gem.
Well I just reminded you - so no excuses now!