The C&C Tiberian saga enters its twilight hour. (PC)
If evolution has taught us anything, it's that the key for survival lies in an entity's ability to adapt. This is a fundamental principle that surrounds all things, and videogames are no different. For a series as long lasting as Command & Conquer, adaptability is important, especially in the strategy genre. Join Strategy Informer for the last chapter in the Command & conquer Tiberian Saga - Tiberian Twilight.
You have to respect the old Westwood guys (now known as EA Los Angeles) - it's evident from the beginning that there's a lot different with C&C4. It will intrigue some, shock others, and at very least make some waves. The main difference of course being the absence of any kind of fixed 'base' - an icon of the C&C brand of strategy games. Instead of bases, you have a choice between three different 'classes' of mobile command vehicles - Offence, Defence & Support. Each class has its own style and unit load out, and each provides different strategies and different ways of thinking.
Ah Joe, we shall miss you...
When upgraded, your mobile walkers can also get in on the action.
The interesting thing is, this new style of play actually fits into the story quite well: Imagine if you will a world overrun by a deadly 'infection' - the Tiberian - which proves fatal to human contact and is slowly but surely driving the human race from their homes. You would have no choice but to 'go mobile', and this is the kind of world C&C 4 inhabits.
In purely gameplay terms, it's certainly interesting. Each class has their own strengths and weaknesses, but some are so glaringly obvious that a wrong class choice at the wrong moment could spell trouble, or just turn things in to a grind fest. You do have the ability to switch classes during battle though, which ads a much needed flexibility to the overall experience. Much like Dawn of War or Company of Heroes, gameplay has now shifted to a more capture-based focus, although simple annihilation is always on the cards.
There's no resource collection what so ever - the only resources present are the population cap, and upgrade points. The Support-class also has 'Powers' that it needs points for, but they regenerate in short order. Despite its designed nature, you sometimes can't help but think that the creators have simply hacked away at chunks of the franchise, instead of carefully scaling back and reinventing. That could be just us though.
Many traditional 'base' defences are now replaced with unit-equivalents.
At least C&C's unique take on unit design hasn't wavered.
What would a strategy game be without at least some micro-management though? Unfortunately, it exists in the worst possible place - the units. Despite a limiting population cap, there's still a lot of units to choose from, and they exist in a very expanded 'rock-paper-scissor-flint-glass' mechanic that's not readily apparent, and cause your troops to die very, very quickly. The game turns into some kind of pseudo-brain training exercise where you have to remember what beats what.
The other big paradigm shift with this game is its focus on online player and player progression. The lines between single player and multiplayer blur, as not only can you participate in campaign missions as well as normal multiplayer skirmishes, progress online is persistent. Through-out the game you earn experience, and that experience can be used to level up whichever class you prefer. Levelling up unlocks higher tech and upgrades, and these can be used in single player AND multiplayer. Unfortunately, this does create a bit of an imbalance between new and old players, so hopefully this can be addressed through post-release support.
The thing hardcore C&C 4 fans will be most interested in though is the story. The story... well... it's different. The opening segments kind of fall through a pit fall that we've seen many times before in strategy games - displays of morality. It's possible that things might be different from a hardcore fan's perspective, but from our laymen eyes, the beginning is a bit rushed. You're given three quick missions to get used to the new style of play, and then you're expected to make a moral-based decision on which side to choose. Not only that, but you seem to have a wife this time round as well - we're all for depth of character, but it's hard to feel enraged by the death of a fictional spouse when you've only known her for half an hour.
In multiplayer, people need to work together by combining classes.
Despite being crucial to a players war effort, the mobile command units aren't that hard to take down.
Still, slightly awkward beginning over with, you then get stuck into whichever side you choose, and start slowly revealing the answers to questions that have been burning in the back of your mind since the original Command & Conquer - Like just who the hell is Kane? The ending smacked a bit of a deus ex machina, and will probably feel unsatisfying to many, but it's an ending, which is what we were promised. Naturally it's not 'the' end... with a series as enigmatic as this there is never a real 'end' - sure, Kucan may not want to play Kane anymore, but I'm sure EA will find more stories to tell.
What is there to say at the end of the day? Simply saying "It's C&C" springs to mind, except it's not - they picked an interesting time to reinvent the series, that's for sure. Will it carry over into any new titles? One assumes so, but then no other setting really fits the kind of mobile warfare required of as seen in this title. It's a decent enough title, but unless you're a hardcore fan, you could easily live a happy life having not played this game.
Top Game Moment:
COMMAND & CONQUER 4: TIBERIAN TWILIGHT VERDICT
What is there to say at the end of the day? Simply saying “It’s C&C” springs to mind, except it’s not - they picked an interesting time to reinvent the series, that’s for sure. Will it carry over into any new titles? One assumes so, but then no other setting really fits the kind of mobile warfare required of as seen in this title. It’s a decent enough title, but unless you’re a hardcore fan, you could easily live a happy life having not played this game.