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Command And Conquer Generals Mac Review

Some games have a legacy where the mention of the title sparks memories of fond gaming hours passed overtaking your enemies’ bases with sheer firepower blasting across the screen. Command and Conquer (hereafter known as “C&C,”) Generals was one of the first strategy-based war games that allowed network play with advanced 3D graphics while putting players against each other in head-to-head matches involving huge multiplayer maps.

Originally released for the Mac in 2004, Aspyr has updated the game to run on the latest Mac OS and re-released it exclusively on the Mac App Store, including the the Zero Hour expansion. And while the game mostly looks as good as ever, factors somewhat out of Aspyr’s control mar the experience a little bit.

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Enter Command & Conquer: Generals for Mac

The Story

C&C: Generals is an RTS base-building game featuring three different factions: the United States, China, and the fictional Global Liberal Army (GLA.) As with previous C&C games such as Red Alert and the factions of Nod and GDI from the first edition, each side has strengths to balance their weaknesses. The general idea behind “Generals” is to make your base strong enough to gain General Points which is where the “end game weapons,” such as nuclear warfare and other higher-end tools become available. The more kills and experience you gain, the better and stronger your army becomes as the battle finishes.

Graphics

C&C Generals employed enormous 3D graphics showing the canyons, mountain ranges, dipping roads and beautiful terrain in gorgeous 3D isometric perspective. At the time, this was revolutionary and a huge computer cooker due to the high system requirements. However, that was in 2003 when computers were different beasts. Today the biggest push involves “K’s” and how many of these will appear in a screen. Aspyr upgraded C&C Generals to the latest iMac’s 5K resolution, making the 3D gameplay amazingly detailed and crisp to behold on a giant screen.

Command & Conquer Generals Mac

The biggest problem I have with Generals isn’t with the game itself, but rather with the modifications Aspyr performed to bring the older title up to date. The game itself, I’ll admit, is amazing. The details in the graphics, terrain, weapons and firepower, all feel like they belong and they almost have to be seen to understand just how detailed and intricate these appear.

The problem I have is something entirely out of Aspyr’s control. Aspyr takes existing games for Windows and perfects them by improving the existing code for other platforms. They take DirectX framework and port it over to OpenGL. And – this is important – they’re damn good at their job. The problem with Generals is the stuff Aspyr can’t improve: the videos. When you launch C&C Generals for the first time you view these amazing 3D battle shots with a detailed menu system, and all the while the screen rotates around the city square under attack.

Command & Conquer Generals Mac

Unfortunately, as soon as you begin a game in any format, those gorgeous high-definition graphics switch over to a Quicktime video rendered in full-screen at 320×200. And it looks exactly like someone took a video clip and smeared Vaseline all over the lens. But then the game pops back up with its brilliant graphics again and all is right with the world. It’s jarring – it’s annoying – but that’s the worst part of the game by far.

Command & Conquer Generals Mac

Multiplayer

Unfortunately, the current version of C&C uses Apple’s Game Center for multiplayer access, making the strange little feature of “playing with friends” an impossible thing to do since traditional cross-platform play does not exist. If you have a different version of Generals or Zero Hour, this makes playing against friends a giant pain. However, leave it to the magic of social media to solve this matchmaking issue. The trick is to sign up to Facebook and use this link below to connect to random people.

That’s the link to the Facebook group that Aspyr set up to link like-minded individuals to play Generals against each other. The ironic thing is the client for setting up multiplayer games within GameCenter is very easy and much more convenient than the traditional way of IP matching or host serving.

The only annoying thing about using Apple’s GameCenter is the seclusion from the other platforms Generals connects with over the Internet. Unless the OSX players go to that Facebook group and find friends to play online with, it’s a single player game.

 

C&C Generals Mac Performance

One of the requirements of C&C Generals is OSX 10.9.5 or higher, but as long as the computer runs Yosemite or the newer patched version of Mavericks, it’ll run without an issue. Generals also requires a decent video card (Intel HD3000, which is the one stuffed in the 2011 MacBook Air, or newer) and runs on all of the latest iMacs, MacBook Pros, and Mac Pros.

C&C Generals System Requirements:

  • OS:  OS X 10.9.5 (Mavericks)
  • CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.2 GHz
  • Video Card: ATI Radeon HD 3870, NVIDIA GeForce 330M, Intel HD 3000, with 256 MB video RAM
  • RAM:  4 GB
  • Hard Drive:  5 GB available space

My System:

  • 15-inch, Mid 2012 MacBook Pro
  • OS:  OS X 10.10.3
  • CPU:  2.6 GHz Intel Core i7
  • Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M with 512MB
  • RAM:  16 GB 1600 MHz DDR3

 

Final Word

Review Stars 3

“Good”

C&C: Generals is great and shows the Westwood design from pre-EA acquisition. However, the updates in the graphics department, engine, etc, fall flat when there is nothing to do after single player finishes. I would have been more impressed with an iOS port.

Also, I would recommend NOT playing with an Apple Magic Mouse because the already annoying-as-hell zoom problems keep getting worse.

The Good:

  • A nice refreshing strategy game from years ago.
  • Single-player campaign has the well-geared components of a solid story.

The Bad:

  • Many of the graphics are from 1999. It feels like a mod for Starcraft. The first one.
  • Matchmaking and multiplayer are after-thoughts at best.
  • ENOUGH WITH THE VHS CUTSCENES. We get it – you’re old.

Mac Gamer HQ recommends: Buy it, but only if you’re an old-school strategy fan.

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  • Camilo López Cristoffanini

    Another great review Chris!
    Not a big fan of strategy games, I’m almost sure I won’t be playing it but was very cool reading it!

  • mikelyons

    Considering this is a classic that many have been excited to see return this review comes off as overly negative to me but to each their own. It is understandable that the old FMV could not be redone and not a big deal in my mind. I also don’t get the remark about 1999 graphics. It looks a lot better than1999 considering it was made after 1999 and in this same review the graphics are praised aside of the cut scenes. I don’t understand that one. Lastly, “more impressed with an iOS port?” after rating the game good and in the sentence immediately following calling the game great? That’s more than a little inconsistent. Personally, I welcome a game brought back like this and understand there will be some limitations in doing so. As for looking like Starcraft the first, somebody has not looked at Starcraft the first lately. This looks a lot better than that.

    As to nothing left to do after single player, there is skirmish mode for replay value. This gets zero mention in the review but should have in my opinion. Otherwise, the points about multiplayer restrictions are well taken but not exactly anything new nor any surprise in the Mac gaming world, particularly when a title is an app store exclusive. It is worthy of note that while some love online play plenty of others do not while they do enjoy skirmish play. So I think hammering on that when there is an actual way to meet up with and play against other people got more attention that it deserved and again, skirmish should have been mentioned. Instead, the review gives the impression that upon completion of the campaign there is zero to do which is not correct.

    If you don’t care for classic game rereleases and what goes with them, that’s fine but maybe somebody else should have done the review on this one as such. I love to see old games like this brought back, limitations and all and I am hardly alone in this. It’s fine to give an objective overview of what the presentation is like, what features exist or do not, what limitations there may be but I think it is best to do this in the most objective manner possible without negative remarks that really do nothing to inform the reader who can make their own choice based on factual information presented to them. My reaction to this is a good example of what i am talking about.

    Enough with the VHS cutscenes? What was the alternative? No cutscenes? Yeah, that would have been so much better for the reviewer maybe. Matchmaking and multiplayer are NOT afterthoughts at best. Both Aspyr and Feral always try to do what they can given the constraints they face working with a particular codebase, in this case an old one. They are not miracle workers. They do the best they can with this stuff to provide the best experience they can. They don’t blow it off because they could not be bothered, it’s just an afterthought, etc. That wasn’t called for and it is wrong.

    Sorry. I like this site a lot but I don’t like biased negative reviews without any real basis for the negativity beyond subjective reaction by one individual. That’s not a review. It borders on a rant in places.

    • And we definitely appreciate your feedback, we’re here to talk about games after all (and hear your comments, specially the negative ones!) Hmm @disqus_tjssOjCkT1:disqus , any feedback on this one? 😉