It's fair to say we were a bit worried when Command and Conquer: Rivals was announced. It looked like it had the potential to be another bland Clash Royale clone - we held out hope, we wanted it to be different, we wanted it to be special. But we've been let down before.
Not so this time though. This isn't Command and Conquer the way you remember it, but it's a clever mobile-isation of an old IP that manages to keep a bunch of the ideas that made the C&C games great, and throws in a bunch of modern ideas to keep you interested.
CommandYou've got a base, and you've got an army. There's Tiberium laying around and you dig it up and use it to throw out your units. There's an enemy base on the opposite side of the level, and three control pads surrounding a missile.
The game is all about staying in control of the majority of those pads, because once a bar is filled up, whoever controls them gets to unleash a huge rocket attack. That's going to take half of the energy from whichever base it hits - two of those and it's game over.
Your units are split up into different types, and you need to build extra parts of your base to use them. Unlocked a helicopter card? You're going to need to build a helipad before you can let it out. Those extra bits of your base cost Tiberium, and you have to have them to unleash anything.
Your barracks are the cheapest and let you push out human units. You've also got tiberium collectors that up the production rate and might give you an edge. Different units have different strengths and weaknesses, and when you play one any unit you're strong against will be highlighted.
Once the units are on the field, that's not the end of the story. You can tap on them to select them, then tap to send them somewhere else. You can keep units in reserve at the side of the battle, and fill up the three-space rocket pads to keep your foes off them.
There's a great back-and-forth to the play, and snatching victory from the jaws of defeat is one of the best feelings we've had in a mobile game for a while. The free to play here is solid too - you can buy cards, but there's no energy system to block you from playing or too many wait-timers to slow your progress.
Anyone expecting a true Command and Conquer game is going to be pretty grumpy with this, but there are concessions made for them. Being able to move your units after you've played them gives the game more of an RTS feel, and the pad-capturing gives the game a completely different feel to all the others in the ever-growing genre.
This isn't a cash-in or some cheap attempt to push an IP somewhere it doesn't fit. It's a modern, mobile experience that's brilliantly put together to entice in a whole swathe of players if it gets the chance. And hopefully it will get that chance.
Where other games using old IP have failed to really capture the feel of the games they're aping, Command and Conquer: Rivals just about manages it. Put aside any anger you might have and give it a go - you might be surprised.