Command & Conquer: Generals

Command & Conquer: Generals
Command & Conquer: Generals
Command & Conquer Generals cover art
Developer(s) EA Pacific (Windows)
Aspyr Media (Mac OS)
Publisher(s) EA Games (Windows)
MacSoft (Mac OS)
Series Command & Conquer
Engine Strategy Action Game Engine (SAGE)
Version 1.08, December 2005
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, Apple Macintosh
Release date(s)
  • NA February 10, 2003
  • EU February 14, 2003
Genre(s) Real-time strategy
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer
Media/distribution CD-ROM (2) (PC), DVD (Mac OS)
System requirements

Minimum: PC:

  • Intel Pentium 3/AMD Athlon 800 MHz
  • 128 MB RAM
  • Windows 98/ME/2000/XP/Vista
  • 32 MB AGP DirectX 8.1 compatible video card NVIDIA Geforce 2 or ATI Radeon 7500
  • DirectX 8.1 compatible sound card
  • 1.8 GB hard disk space
  • 8x CD-ROM/DVD-ROM drive

Mac OS: 1 GHz PowerPC G4

  • 256 MB RAM
  • Mac OS X 10.2.6
  • 32 MB video card
  • DVD-ROM drive

Recommended: 1.6 GHz Processor

  • 256+ RAM
  • 64 MB Video Card
  • Directx 9c

Command & Conquer: Generals is a real-time strategy game in the Command & Conquer series. Generals utilizes SAGE (Strategy Action Game Engine). This proprietary engine is an extended version of the Command & Conquer: Renegade 3D engine. Generals was released onto the Microsoft Windows platform in 2003, and a Mac OS version was released in 2004, marking the return of the Command & Conquer series to that platform. An expansion pack, entitled Command & Conquer: Generals – Zero Hour, was additionally released for PC in 2003, and for Mac OS in 2005.



Generals takes place in the near future, with players given a choice of three factions to play. In Generals, the United States and China are the world's two superpowers, and are the targets of the Global Liberation Army or also known as the GLA, a large, well-organized terrorist organization, fighting as a fanatical irregular force. The United States and China are depicted as allies in the series, and frequently co-operate with each other throughout the storyline against the Global Liberation Army, which is depicted as an omnipresent, borderless organization with unclear goals beyond opposition to and expulsion of both China and the United States. The three factions are thus engaged in a war similar to that of the real-life War on Terror.

The player can play any of the three sides in any order, with each side's campaign consisting of seven missions. The storyline follows the order of China first, then the GLA, then the USA. In this order, China retaliates after a devastating GLA nuclear attack on Beijing, destroys the Three Gorges Dam, uses China's nuclear arsenal and eventually completely crushes the GLA cell masterminding all Pacific rim operations. The GLA campaign then begins, with the organization trying to recover from its recent setback at the hands of the Chinese by raising funds and instigating attacks against their American and Chinese antagonists, eventually culminating in the overtaking of the Baikonur Cosmodrome and the firing of a Soyuz rocket bearing a biological MIRV at an unnamed city. At this point the American campaign begins in which the USA engages the GLA across several locales, including Baghdad and the Caspian Sea, before defeating a rogue Chinese general supporting the terrorists and tracking them back to their base of operations in Astana, Kazakhstan.

The Generals story is continued in the expansion pack Command & Conquer: Generals - Zero Hour which leads to the US retaking Baikonur, the GLA attacking the US West Coast, causing a retreat of US forces from Europe, followed by the GLA invasion of Europe, and finally China defeating the GLA and seizing the opportunity to rise as a superpower.


Command and Conquer Generals operates like most other real-time strategy games, in that the player must construct a base, acquire resources, build various combat and support units, and defeat their opponent(s). Various unit types can be constructed, ranging from infantry to vehicles and air units. The player may control the United States of America, the People's Republic of China, or the Global Liberation Army, and each side has its unique characteristics and abilities. All sides share some similarities, such as training infantry at a barracks, building armored vehicles at a factory, possessing "high tech" buildings needed for more advanced units, possessing a means to acquire additional resources and possessing a unique superweapon.

The game's interface is similar to that of real-time strategy games such as Age of Empires or StarCraft. The player selects buildings to bring up build orders and purchase upgrades, and can select individual units to activate their special abilities. Structures are built by selecting dedicated builder units and placing the structure anywhere on the map.

As with other real-time strategy games, the various units have advantages and disadvantages against other units, and the player is encouraged to mix unit types in order to succeed and fight tactically with various unit abilities in order to win.

For example, rifle infantry are capable of quickly killing other infantry types, but are vulnerable to light vehicles and dedicated anti-infantry/anti-air units such as tankettes and APCs, which in turn are vulnerable to main battle tanks, which themselves are vulnerable to missile-equipped infantry and aircraft.

As the game progresses and the player defeats enemy units in battle, the player will gain "experience" points, which are used to purchase "Generals Abilities," unique abilities that range from enhancing units and unlocking new unit types to powerful air strikes, one-shot enhancements to units, or targetable "spawn points" to drop or create groups of units anywhere on the map.

As individual units attack and defeat enemy units or capture buildings, they gain "veterancy" and become more powerful, much like the General commanding them. Higher-ranking units attack faster, have more health, and can self-repair.


Each of the three factions has a play style in accordance with their real-world counterparts. Every faction has advantages and disadvantages. Each one also has upgrades to improve your army. All of the factions, when put in correct order, create a storyline of events.


The United States is the most technologically-advanced faction, and fights with a combination of powerful ground units and a large, versatile fleet of aircraft. USA forces rely on skill, mobility, and high technology to defeat the raw firepower of China and the guerilla tactics of the GLA. USA ground vehicles can construct unmanned drones to support and repair them in combat, and some American troops and vehicles make extensive use of laser technology to guide weapons and defend against attack. American infantry have a number of special abilities, and include stealthy long-ranged snipers and a powerful commando named Colonel Burton with a number of abilities revolving around demolition and stealth. The USA also fields the largest air fleet in the game, including attack and transport helicopters, F-22 Raptors, high speed bombers and stealth fighters. American Generals' abilities revolve around air power, including air strikes by A-10 Thunderbolt IIs and fuel air bombs. USA forces work best in a combined arms approach, with air power supporting tanks and artillery, which in turn support infantry, which in turn protect armor and aircraft, enabling them to defeat a much larger but less diverse enemy force.

The USA has a major disadvantage, however, in that it has the slowest resource gathering in the game in comparison to troop costs, it has a less stable supply of power than China, and its high-tech units are expensive. This can be remedied by building a large number of Supply Drop Zones. This forces a USA player to construct a smaller, more specialized army than a Chinese or GLA player, and work to minimize losses. Chinese and GLA opponents can swarm a comparatively small American army and overwhelm it.

The United States' superweapon is the Particle Uplink Cannon, which fires off a giant laser beam into space and is reflected off a satellite to the desired target. When the cannon is ready, the player can select a starting point of the blast and then click on another target to create the beam's path; thus being able to destroy specific targets with deadly precision. When the laser hits a target it leaves a small, powerful fire behind it which does great damage to anything that touches it. This superweapon recharges itself faster than the Nuclear missile or the SCUD storm and leaves no radioactive/chemical residue in the targeted area.


The People's Liberation Army relies largely on raw power and massive numbers, culminating in a variety of powerful and heavily armored tanks, and has limited air power based on MiG Multirole Fighters. China's heavy-handed playstyle emphasizes direct assaults and sheer power to defeat American technology and GLA stealth. Chinese troops and tanks gain special bonuses when in groups, and make extensive use of propaganda (passive healing) to support their troops. China has a wide range of vehicle types, and the largest tank arsenal in the game, including several specialized tanks like the anti-infantry "Dragon" flamethrower tank, "Overlord" super-heavy tank, the "Inferno" napalm cannon and the Nuke Cannon. Chinese forces also make heavy use of gatling guns, nuclear, and napalm weaponry to destroy the enemy. China also utilizes advanced electronic warfare technology, including elite hackers, a spy called Black Lotus, and electromagnetic pulse weapons. The Chinese Nuke cannon and Inferno cannon are the only artillery units whose ammunition cannot be intercepted by any defenses.

China has a major disadvantage in that its ground forces are generally slower than those of the other two factions. Due to having virtually no fast attack units, except for their MiGs, China is forced to make large, ponderous assaults with heavy units, a tactic that can be countered by the GLA's speed or the USA's air power. However, the Chinese forces are well-suited to winning drawn-out battles of attrition.

China's unique superweapon is the Nuclear Missile, in which a missile is launched and creates a "mushroom cloud" upon detonation at the desired target. Aside from inflicting massive damage to enemy structures, the explosion leaves the affected area temporarily irradiated; the radiation is enough to slowly kill infantry and destroy vehicles standing on the contaminated ground.

Global Liberation Army

A terrorist organization of Middle Eastern and former Soviet origins, GLA initially wages war against China for control of central Asian economic areas.

Being technologically disadvantaged, the GLA has comparatively weak (though highly mobile) ground vehicles and virtually no air force, prompting the use of guerrilla tactics such as mining, suicide bombing, hijacking, and ambushing.

The GLA has a larger array of infantry types and vehicles (including Technicals) to make up for this disadvantage, and has the widest range of stealth options. The GLA also has a very powerful economy, with various resource-gathering techniques such as salvaging vehicle wreckage, gaining cash bounties on destroyed enemy units, and building multiple "black market" structures to bring in large amounts of money over time. The GLA are unique in that they have no energy requirement for any of their structures or units, and any power input available to a GLA player due to captured power plants will boost productivity even further. The GLA's upgrades make it more powerful when fully equipped, transforming a relatively weak group of units into a more respectable threat. The GLA is also unique in that its structures, particularly base defenses, rebuild themselves over time unless completely destroyed; this makes it difficult to permanently damage the GLA with many single-shot weapons or units.

The GLA's toxic weapons, suicide units, and stealth and surprise abilities enable them to hit enemies from unexpected directions, and its powerful economy, combined with cheap, fast units, enables it to flood opponents with sheer numbers. The GLA's primary disadvantage is that, in terms of firepower, range, and durability, its units are outmatched by Chinese and American units, and it has a complete lack of air power. This forces a GLA player to outmaneuver or outnumber opponents, as in an even, direct confrontation the GLA will lose to superior Chinese firepower and American technology.

The GLA's unique superweapon is the SCUD Storm, which fires multiple biochemical Scud rockets to a target. This attack destroys most structures in the target area and contaminates the land with anthrax. Enemy infantry and units stepping on the anthrax-laden ground die faster compared to the radiation generated by China's nuclear missile.

World builder

Generals also includes a map editor named World Builder for the PC edition only. The World Builder includes features such as:

  • A terraforming tool.
  • An intelligent road system, able to detect when the player wants an intersection.
  • A tool to scatter flora around the map.
  • Waypoints and area triggers that the AI can use. Waypoints also determine starting points for the players on a skirmish map.
  • A scripting system that was meant for the missions in the single-player campaign. This scripting system is very basic but sufficient for basic, static campaign mission scripting. However, it is criticised for its lack of capabilities regarding alternative map programming and dynamic scripting. An example of a RTS game editor with a more advanced scripting editor is Warcraft III's World Editor.


Generals presents players with a separate musical score for each faction. The United States' theme music consists of epic, militaristic scores composed by Bill Brown and Mikael Sandgren. China's musical themes feature apocalyptic, orchestral scores combined with East Asian instrumentation. The GLA faction's theme soundtrack can be described as a combination of Middle Eastern and few South Asian sounds coupled with heavy metal music, similar to the music in the Somalian sequences in Black Hawk Down.


After its release, Generals received mostly positive reviews. Based on 34 reviews, Metacritic gives it a score of 84/100[1] which includes a score of 9.3/10 from IGN.[2] Generals has also received the E3 2002 Game Critics Awards Best Strategy Game award.[3] One review noted that Generals was the first ever "C&C" RTS game that did not include full-motion video cutscenes to tell the story and that it departed from the unique interface and base-building mechanics that had characterized all of the previous C&C RTS titles.[4]

Ban in China

Despite the generally positive depiction of China in the series[says who?], and even the positive twist for China sequel Zero Hour, the Generals series is banned in mainland China.[5] Throughout the Chinese campaign, the player is occasionally made to utilize heavy-handed tactics such as leveling the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre after it becomes a GLA base and destroying the Three Gorges Dam to release a flood on GLA forces. Chinese forces also liberally use nuclear weaponry in-game, albeit restricted to the lower tactical nuclear weapon yield range. Furthermore, in the introduction of the game, Tiananmen Square and its surrounding areas in Beijing is decimated by terrorist nuclear weapons.

German localization

In the beginning of 2003, a regular localized German version was released in Germany.

Due to the upcoming Iraq war, the Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien (Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons) put the game on index two months after the initial release, stating that the game would give underage people the ability to play the upcoming war in Iraq, before the real war had even begun.[6] Additionally the player is able to kill civilians. Based on these two points the BPjM put the game on the index, because they thought it glorified war.

The sale to minors and marketing of the game were prohibited throughout the Federal Republic of Germany. Later, in the same year, EA released a new version called "Command & Conquer: Generäle", which did not incorporate real world factions or any relation to terrorism.[7] For example, the suicide bomber unit was transformed into a rolling bomb and all other infantry were changed into "cyborgs" in order of appearance and unit responses similar to earlier releases of the Command & Conquer franchise.[8]


Games can be played both over the internet and in LAN games. It adopts a similar format to skirmish mode whereby your goal is to eliminate members of the other team. Games over the internet can be completely random, in the form of a Quick Match. Players can also play in Custom Matches where the number of players, the map and rules are decided upon by the host. One of these rules limits players to one superweapon per player (Zero Hour only).

Command & Conquer: Generals – Zero Hour

In the expansion pack to Generals, dubbed Zero Hour, the USA campaign involves the continued deployment of United States' forces in areas such as Kazakhstan to combat the forces of the GLA. At the end of the USA campaign, the GLA is all but defeated and a majority of its forces either captured or fled. The GLA campaign picks up at the end of the USA campaign where the player must command the badly damaged GLA. Throughout this campaign, the GLA slowly begin to rebuild their forces to rise up again at the USA, and steal a next-generation weapons-grade strain of anthrax. Eventually, the GLA grows powerful enough for the player to command an assault on the West Coast of the United States. This damages the USA's reputation and results in the USA recalling forces from Europe to strengthen Homeland Security.

USA Naval forces in Campaign mode during a Zero Hour mission

In the final campaign of the game, the player commands forces of the People's Republic of China which has agreed to help Europe repel any GLA attack. Utilizing tactics such as Tank warfare, Tactical Nuclear Missiles and more, the player is able to successfully repel the GLA's assaults on European soil. As a result, China is thrust on to the world stage and the player is hailed as a hero by the Chinese people.

See also


External links

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