Today marks the 20 year anniversary for the release of the first Command & Conquer game, traditionally known as “Tiberian Dawn.” This is the first C&C game that I ever played, when I was five, or six, or who knows. My brother originally bought the game, and I’d watch him playing it on his computer, while sneaking on to play it myself when he wasn’t around. I could never beat it, at the time. I always found myself getting stuck on the GDI mission where you had to get a squad of five grenadiers and an MCV past multiple turrets and a light tank, only to be finished off each and every time by a flamer.
Now, 20 years later, the game feels almost ancient. It runs too fast on a modern PC, everything looks so small and undetailed, it’s an odd feeling. I enjoy returning to each C&C game from time to time just for a quick playthrough, for either nostalgia or procrastination. When my dog Timon died and I was in the third grade, I played Red Alert to help me get over the pain of the loss. When the dog we got to replace him died, almost 10 years later, I found myself returning to Red Alert 2 for the same purpose.
Command & Conquer, to me, was more than just a game. It was an emotional experience. While it does not hold the same place in my heart that it used to growing up, it was always there. It was always a beacon of life, of entertainment, of pure joy. You could experience a different story with each game, each universe, and each of the characters or units that would appear on your screen. You could play it differently each time you played. While there hasn’t been a full release since 2010, Command & Conquer, as an idea, as a feeling, as an emotion, will likely last for my entire life.
In recent years I’ve pulled myself away from C&C significantly, almost entirely. I no longer trust (or care) for EA or any other company to put out a new game, not just because I think they’ll do a poor job, but mostly because I don’t think even an amazing future release will be as captivating as the games of C&C’s past. C&C is a legacy. Not because it dominates the game market, and it sure hasn’t in a long time, but because it dominates my thoughts and opinions whenever I hear anyone ask questions like “what is your favorite game?” “What is the greatest game of all time?” In all fairness, C&C is hardly the correct answer, and yet it is still the first game that comes to mind.
So here’s to you, Command & Conquer. Happy 20 years. While there will likely no longer be any games worthy of mention to come, I can still say that for me, the series will still always be forever in my heart one of the greatest gaming series to ever exist, now and forever.