Individually and in another game with a more coherent art direction each of the assets seen in the trailer below could be appreciated for their fidelity. Together in the remaster they looked thrown together without any unifying direction to the arty style and that’s because they are. All the assets were farmed out by Electronic Arts to a development house half way around the world in Malaysia called Lemon Sky Studios.
Known for their cheap exploitative labor according to Glassdoors the company operates with no unifying leadership that would be necessary to deliver a unifying vision for the assets of a project. Staff are routinely over worked, uncredited and have to fight for their development software only to be let go if they do not have a project to work on.
When looking at the original game you can see a harmony between all the assets. The buildings blend with the ground, the units don’t stand out from the buildings, and everything works in synchronicity to create a synergy within the art direction for the experience that became the international Command & Conquer franchise sensation. Then compare that to the converted-from-three-dimensional assets to two-dimensional assets for a 2.5 world and you can see how harshly the various assets clash with not just their world, but each other.
Starting with the buildings, who have higher fidelity than the background, they cross into a genuine uncanny valley role as your mind attempts to rectify the converted 2d asset with the 2.5 world. The result is an unpleasant sensation that you can’t quite put your finger on, but understand all to well that something is off.
Environmental assets aren’t much better. The trees are distinctly three dimensional as are the units, regardless of the attempted compression and camera angle that attempts to give off the appearance of a two dimensional world. Environmental textures are so low fidelity they appear to be clipart copy-pasted onto a background template. Fire is so ridiculously high resolution it looks like amateur hour green screen effective meant to evoke laughter rather than to convey satisfactory and cathartic destruction.
Fortunately for the mercy of our eyes you can play through the entirety of the remaster with the classic and superior assets. Through for those that want to, the game will ship with a toggle allowing the player at any moment to switch between the two sets of assets without interrupting the flow of combat or the gameplay.
To the credit of Petroglyph, the parts Electronic Arts permitted them to work on look phenomenal. Fully encapsulating the classic feel of the original command and conquer title combat looks to be a perfect translation.
In their developer blog they are very clear on who developed the assets and how they converted three dimensional assets instead of using the classic two dimensional feel that the studio wanted to retain for the remaster. Reading in-between the lines the visual look of the game is once again Electronic Arts’ corporate decision rather than the decision of the development house.
Whether the assets can be course corrected at this juncture is unknown and probably unlikely. Electronic Arts is so cheap instead of letting the developer remaster the game properly they farmed asset creation out to a company half way around the world that by their own reviews has no visionary leadership and it shows hard. The passion Petroglyph had for the project was simply no match for the greed and incompetency of Electronic Arts.