Surrender now, game developers, it’s Zero Hour at Electronic ArtsGame developers take note: Do not waste time producing expansions to your products this year. Electronic Arts’s add-on, “Zero Hour,” supplements “Command and Conquer,” demolishing the competition in one fell swoop. What separates “Zero Hour” from other real-time strategy expansions is that it does not make Herculean attempts to create new storylines; there are only limited changes to units and new capabilities. The expansion’s intent is simple: to endow all three factions of generals with bigger, badder and better weapons to wreak havoc across an impeccably rendered combat environment.
Each of the three armies ― Global Liberation Army, Chinese Army, United States Army ― has three commanders to choose from, sharpening your plans for battle with the unique upgrade skills characteristic of that general. The GLA, a well-organized terrorist army, includes General Thrax, whose added weapons include Anthrax Gamma, a deadlier version of the bioweapon anthrax.
The Chinese, bent on conquering Europe, up the ante in the skies with the huge, napalm-spouting Helix helicopter. China also has a new type of tank. Most frightening is the tactical nuclear bomb, which can pulverize the best defended bases in seconds.
Oddly, many of the additions afforded the Americans are actually present-day reality for the U.S. military. In the game, the “new” drones have been outfitted with Hellfire missiles. The Americans also have improved the AC-130 gunship, an aircraft in U.S. military service since the Vietnam conflict.
Coupled with new missions that include destroying the U.S. Mediterranean Fleet and sending special-ops forces to neutralize weapons of mass destruction, “Zero Hour” delivers the most complete package in game-expansion history.
Command & Conquer Generals: Zero Hour
Type: Real-time strategy
Difficulty: Medium for those who have played the original Generals
Stars: * * * *
by Phil Chang