I have long been a Command & Conquer fan, starting with Command & Conquer: Red Alert as one of the first PC games I experienced and have since loved to this day. I will side with many others in appreciation of what Command & Conquer 3 accomplished; a return to its roots from the brief transitional period of Generals and stupendous execution of it, at that.
Command & Conquer 3, as such, uses a far different method of base construction and economy as compared to traditional real-time strategy games; rather than workers, it relies on the construction yard as both the player's nerve center and primary construction unit. Buildings can be placed in control zones after they have been fully purchased, and are instantly constructed when placed. The player's economy functions through tiberium harvesters, which comb through a field of radioactive crystals rather than attaching themselves to a resource node. For 2007, even though it recalled much of older times in the RTS genre, it was quite a unique game.
Gameplay-wise, Command & Conquer 3 is a frantic game of hard counters. Anti-tank troops will rarely be able to take on rifle squads alone, and machine gun turrets will lose handily to main battle tanks. Units can vanish in the blink of an eye without warning, be it from high-potency artillery or sniper ambushes on isolated units. Economy plays a central role, as well; the player who establishes a powerful economy quickly and staunchly will often be the victor, as Command & Conquer games have never featured a supply cap or need for supply structures.
For some, this can be a headache. The leading role of economy, knowing troops will often die even with your keenest intervention, and the balancing act of fending off enemy counters in such a fast-paced environment leaves little room for the overly thorough in high-stakes games. Even a strong commander will find themselves in an unenviable position should they lose the economy war, as the frustration of losing harvesters on a stressed budget and watching one's veteran units dwindle with each skirmish can hardly be called a calming state of affairs. Some consider the workerless method of base construction to be backwards and that the over-reliance on economy to decide games is detrimental to the skill involved in playing the game.
In terms of storyline, Command & Conquer has always managed to captivate me. It may be nostalgia ballooning the series' writing and acting beyond what it should be, but the plot surrounding the intricate game of cat-and-mouse between GDI and Kane, the corruption of the planet by tiberium (most pointedly, the chilling depictions of red zones), and the live action cutscenes have all served to inspire me on many different levels. Command & Conquer 3's introduction of the Visitors and Kane's prophecy of their arrival have all served to bolster my apprecation of the storyline - C&C4 kept firmly out of mind.
While it is unfortunate that Frank Klepacki did not return to grant C&C3 a score similar to the stupendous soundtracks of Red Alert 2 and prior, Steve Jablonsky and Trevor Morris lived up to his quality - if not necessarily style - and brought quality music to the title. Voice acting is more a toss-up, however; while most units offer fitting and well-acted lines, some - most notably Nod's two early scouting vehicles - are overacted to the verge of ridiculousness. Acting, while somewhat overdone in some areas, is enjoyable and mostly believable, and Joseph Kucan's applaudable return as Kane once more can hardly go without notice.
Graphics and general sound quality are another toss-up, however. The SAGE engine - used originally for Generals in 2004 - was dated by 2007 standards, especially compared with the Essence engine used by Relic Entertainment in Company of Heroes a year prior. While effects and asset quality are undoubtedly good for their time, the SAGE engine often struggles to keep up, and some oddities can occur from certain situations. Notably, infantry cycling through "take cover" shouts on death and strangeness surrounding some explosion effects, such as the ion cannon strike. Audio, on the other hand, sports some noticeable stock sound effects, but is otherwise well-delivered and masterfully crafted for the various atmospheres in the game.
Overall, a dedicated real-time strategy gamer could easily find joy in Tiberium Wars, and a dedicated Command & Conquer follower would be mental to let it slip from their library. With mod support aplenty (if not necessarily as accessible as previous C&C titles) and an official map editor freely available, it is hard to say that minor slights could prevent this game from earning its price and thensome.