After many long years in development, C&C Renegade shows the world that you don't need sentimental war nostalgia, Nazis, or the Quake III engine to make an awesome first-person shooter.
Renegade is the first time you actually get to be Havoc, the GDI's most hardcore commando, with all the destruction, violence, and coolness that entails. The story is simple: the Brotherhood of Nod is out there being evil, and only Havoc can stop them. Things get more complex, however, once Havoc meets up with an old flame on the battlefield, finds out about Nod's secret Tiberium experiments, and struggles with a brigadier general who isn't putting up with Havoc's renegade streak.
Renegade is Westwood's freshman FPS outing and, in many ways, it shows. The graphics (provided by an engine developed in-house at Westwood) look incredible in some places but dismal in others, ranging from raging multiple-vehicle firefights to drab, almost texture-less walls in a secluded chalet. Sound glitches, such as wonky directional sound cues and enemy voices that come from nowhere, keep the game from being completely gripping.
Still, Westwood is known for quality games, and that pride in its work shows in Renegade. Westwood has seemingly mastered the art of FPS controls in one try, as Renegade's interface almost disappears as you play, enabling you to run and shoot and blast stuff without hunting for keys and commands. The game's command of vehicular combat makes Halo seem like Moon Patrol; driving tanks and other vehicles is so much fun that you'll deeply regret having to travel on foot. Add to that an awesome multiplayer mode that approximates what the C&C RTS games must be like on the battlefield, and Renegade looks extremely sweet for a first try.
Renegade has its assorted other problems, like Gump-level enemy A.I. and somewhat silly mechanics (destroying a building's master terminal disables the entire building), but the sheer fun of blasting your way through Nod's defences and just being a badass makes up for a lot. Westwood's rogue shooter sneaks its way onto the FPS hit list, and it looks like it belongs there.
Publisher: Electronic Arts.
Developer: Westwood Studios.