Great moments in PC gaming: Zapping the White House in Command & Conquer

Great moments in PC gaming are short, bite-sized celebrations of some of our favorite gaming memories.

What made it great: The first time I saw the glorious FMV ending of Command & Conquer, it was at a friend's house, played out on the Sega Saturn rather than a PC. His older brother, eager for us to see this mondo cool moment, used cheat codes to nuke his way through the final mission of the NOD campaign, dropping bomb after bomb blindly across the fog of war-covered map until every GDI soldier was ash. Then, finally, an incredible power was put in our hands: the choice to destroy one of four famous international monuments, but not before NOD's leader Kane made a perfectly 90s speech about cyberspace and a sweet video played of NOD hacking its way into the GDI's Orbital Defense Matrix. This shit came out the same year as Johnny Mnemonic, and honestly, it was better

We're hacked in, control is ours, and Kane has bestowed upon us the honor of destroying whichever famous landmark we desire. Naturally, for a kid in America, the White House was the obvious choice. Watching it now, the destruction of the CG White House is too fast, too perfunctory, not dramatic enough. But this was a year before Roland Emmerich's Independence Day, and Command & Conquer's at-the-time cutting edge graphics made this a monumental ending to a long campaign. How many games let you so completely be the bad guy, and win?

In the Youtube age, seeing the end of Command & Conquer's NOD campaign doesn't carry much weight. But it belongs to a time when a single cutscene could capture a young imagination so thoroughly, you'd play a game over and over again just to relive those few seconds of payoff.