It's another bleak forecast for the future in the new video game "Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars."

Yet it's so much fun you probably won't mind the prospects of an Earth politically splintered and environmentally devastated by an ever-spreading crystalline alien substance called Tiberium.

This latest saga marks one of the best, and only, games of its type for the Xbox 360. (The T-rated, $59.99 title is also available for Windows PCs for $10 less).

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Like other real-time strategy titles, the gameplay is centered around collecting resources (in this case truckloads of Tiberium), constructing barracks and other structures, and then sending your newly minted army into all-out war.

Nothing here really breaks away from the real-time strategy genre's conventions, and that's just fine.

The frenzied managerial pace of building forces, collecting tiberium and defeating rivals remains an intense experience. The hours will quickly pass as you conquer one mission after another.

There are several ways to play, but I recommend going through the single-player story modes first.

They not only serve as a good primer to the Xbox 360 controls and various units you can build (tanks, troops and air fighters among them), they also advance an intriguing story that's filled with plenty of cheesy sci-fi twists and turns.

Anyone who's played earlier games in the series, which date back to the mid-1990s, will get an especially big kick out of seeing what fanatical Nod leader Kane and other characters in the long-standing series are up to now.

Speaking of characters, one of the hallmarks of the series returns with a campy vengeance in "Tiberium Wars."

The full-screen, full-motion video segments between missions tell the story and feature great appearances from some Hollywood talent such as "Battlestar Galactica"'s Tricia Helfer, Billy Dee Williams and Michael Ironside.

Yes, it's often painful watching these actors "act" in a video game. But I had a smile on my face the whole time, and seeing this classic feature from older "Command & Conquer" games conjured up a warm retro feeling.

Whether you enjoy the video sequences or the addicting gameplay, "Tiberium Wars" is a welcome return to a reinvigorated franchise.

Three stars out of four.