BioWare Tackles Strategy with Command & Conquer Generals 2


BioWare takes over Victory Games studio to continue a branch of the venerable strategy franchise.

This weekend, Electronic Arts announced BioWare would be resurrecting a branch of the Command & Conquer franchise many fans had given up for dead. Generals came out in 2003 and has no overt connection to either the Tiberian (original C&C) or Red Alert series, instead focusing on the near-future’s superpowers grappling with a well-organized terrorist organization. Victory Games – previously part of EA Los Angeles – has been absorbed into the BioWare umbrella and renamed BioWare Victory to develop Generals 2 using the Frostbite 2 engine. The strategy sequel will be for PCs only and released sometime in 2013.

My only question is: Why BioWare? “We’re bringing BioWare’s vision for emotionally engaging gameplay and great attention to quality to the strategy genre and the Command & Conquer franchise,” said Dr. Ray Muzyka, cofounder of BioWare.

Oh, that’s why.

“I am excited to welcome BioWare Victory to our label. They are a great addition and the team is working hard to make sure Generals 2 truly immerses and engages players into this intense, gritty, modern war experience,” he continued. Stop it, Ray, you are making too much sense.

But why Generals, which seemed to be made in response to our culture’s early 2000s concentration on terrorism? “For the last eight years, Command & Conquer fans have been begging for a return to the Generals universe,” said Jon Van Caneghem, producer at BioWare Victory. They have? I will miss Kane.

“With Generals 2, we are bringing the Command & Conquer franchise back to its roots, blending strategic gameplay with fast-paced action – all set in visually stunning theaters of war powered by Frostbite 2,” said Van Caneghem. All right, I guess that sounds good, and the assetss you guys released do look pretty sweet.

But I still have reservations. Sometime since the acquisition in 2007, BioWare became a brand name that parent-company Electronic Arts could stamp on anything. The company founded by Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk earned its name peddling high-quality role-playing games for the PC audience and have been successful transferring that mojo to the mainstream with Mass Effect and Dragon Age. EA must think BioWare can work that same magic again for the slumping Command & Conquer franchise.

I’m just not sure that BioWare’s brand of story-telling and character development will fit with an RTS. And if there will not be the characteristic BioWare writing, then what’s the point of putting the BioWare name on the box? The whole announcement just smacks of brand manipulation by EA.

At least they’ve said that Generals 2 will be PC exclusive. I’m glad most sane game developers have realized that RTS will just never work on consoles – unless Kinect voice commands get a lot better.

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