Commander and Conquer: Renegade is the outcast of the C&C series. A First/Third Person Shooter released in 2002, the game floundered critically mainly because the single player mode was seriously awful. But the multiplayer was another story. A number of games have attempted to bring RTS elements into an online shooter, but I believe none have succeeded as successfully as C&C: Renegade, and I'm not alone in that belief. Thanks to a number of avid fans of the game, Renegade X is now available as a completely free, standalone remake of the original. Other than much improved graphics, new vehicle physics, and a few small gameplay tweaks, this is the same game released in 2002. And thats a very good thing.
Renegade X has only one game mode, the aptly name 'Command and Conquer'. This is an objective based mode with a very simple mission for your team: destroy the enemy base. You'll do that with soldiers, vehicles (ground and flying) and even the old RTS standby, super weapons. You'll purchase this equipment using the money you earn in game (you NEVER used real money, this is a free game, NOT free-to-play with in-game transactions). You earn that money one of three ways:
- For destroying enemy soldiers, vehicles and buildings or healing the same on your side
- Whenever your teams Tiberium harvester, which is AI controlled, returns to your base
- At a slow but constant pace, as long as your Tiberium refinery hasn't been destroyed (more on that in a sec).
Despite being RTS influenced, there is no player or AI directing your team or what you'll purchase. Thats totally up to you, and that freedom of choice (and the number of choices for spending your money) is what gives both sides so much strategic depth. And in a rare move for an online shooter, both sides have big differences, including buildings, characters, and vehicles. For example, Nod has a stealth tank that turns invisible after a few seconds while GDI gets a massive (and expensive) Mammoth tank armed with double barrels and missiles. Both sides have 5 free infantry units including an all purpose healer, repairman, and demolitions expert. If you're low on funds its not hard to make some quick credits healing fellow soldiers or attacking the enemy team's harvester.
Once you've armed yourself, you (and hopefully some of your teammates) need to head over to the enemy base, where you'll find 5 buildings: a barracks/Hand of Nod, weapons factory/airstrip, a Tiberium refinery, power plant, and a defensive structure. Deciding which building to attack is very important, because they DIRECTLY affect your enemy teams economy in various ways. Destroy their barracks/Hand of Nod and the team loses to ability to purchase specialized infantry characters. Same with the weapons factory/airstrip. Destroy their refinery and they lose their steady stream of income and the bonus for returning harvesters (you can also just attack their harvester, a sound strategy at the beginning of a match). Destroy their power plant and you'll not only double the price of all that teams purchases, but you'll deactivate their defensive structure, which goes a long way to keeping vehicles and infantry from waltzing right into their base.
This interplay between the games objective and economy is what makes Renegade X such a satisfying experience. Each of the five objectives you need to destroy in order to win directly affects the individual players on the opposing side. Actually doing that can be accomplished in a number of ways. Using tanks and artillery vehicles to siege the enemies base is a slow but steady way (can't afford your own? help out by repairing your teams vehicles will earning cash!). Fill up an APC or two with engineers and technicians (a super engineer available to both sides that gets extra C4s, mines, and a super charged repairgun) and 'rush' into their base. Throw enough C4s on the command terminal inside every building (fyi, this is NOT the same as a purchase terminal) and a few infantry can wreck a base. Bring along a nuclear strike or ion cannon beacon and you can annihilate a building in a single shot.
Matches are up to 64 players, which can be a little overwhelming on some of the smaller maps, but I enjoy the chaos that inevitably ensues. The remake included a number of small touches that make me nostalgic for the original: the silly 'boink' when you get a kill, the EDF like soldier shouts, the fact that some of the characters are kinda unbalanced and suck.
If you enjoy big, team based shooters like Battlfield, Planetside or MAG and can forgive a few rough edges, I think you'll find a lot to love in Renegade X. Remember, the fans of the original were so passionate about it that they recreated it and released it for free. That's gotta count for something, right?