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Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight Review
developer: EA LA
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Mar 16, 10
|» All About Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight on ActionTrip|
Playing the Command & Conquer RTS series has always been a fun experience for me. Yes, I am a fan of the franchise, particularly of the classic RTS gameplay mechanics, the corny (though for some reason compelling) live action cut-scenes and the generally satisfying visuals. C&C games rarely disappointed in the past and have delivered what was expected of them almost every time. For years, these games have been a favorite pastime of millions of gamers, as well as hardcore RTS fans. With EA LA's Command & Conquer 4: Tiberium Twilight, the strategy series draws to a close, so gamers who were interested in the storyline, finally get to find out how it all ends. However, EA made crucial changes this time around and a few of them might not please everyone, especially gamers who are accustomed to previous releases in the series.
The game takes us to the year 2062, when humanity is on the very brink of extinction (when is humanity NOT on the brink of extinction?). The powerful resource called Tiberium, which caused the long-lasting conflict between the Global Defense Initiative (GDI) and the Brotherhood of Nod, has almost wiped out Earth's entire population. Iconic Nod leader Kane visits GDI saying that he's now able to control Tiberium and harness its power. His proposal is to create a Tiberium Control Network with the help of GDI. This, of course, denotes an alliance between the two factions. Many were opposed to this, but eventually an agreement was made and GDI and Nod united. Things would be peachy if it weren't for extremist forces of both factions. These extremists lead humanity into the Fourth Tiberium War.
Can't this enormous piece of junk go any faster?
Prepared to be bombed out of your skulls!
Once you pass a round of tutorial missions, the story starts to unfold depending on whether you choose to side with Colonel Louise James' GDI or Kane's Nod Loyalist forces. Either the way, of course, the main plot will run its course, except you'll get to decide the perspective you wish to play it from.
Passing the tutorials is a must, regardless of your previous experiences with Command & Conquer games. Fans of C&C are in for a surprise. The developers made changes to the core gameplay. Stuff like resource gathering and base building are a thing of the past. Each time you hit the battlefield, you launch one of the three different types of Crawlers (offense, defense or support) and then you can try to establish a foothold on the map you're playing on. Crawlers are large, fully mobile production units meant to provide a substitute for your entire base. They churn out every type of unit and upgrade available. From a tactical standpoint, this is actually an interesting addition to the game, because it allows you to think about where you set up your defenses and if the Crawler is under attack, you can immediately displace to a safer location. Production wise, it can create problems. If you're constantly moving your Crawler all over the map, it can easily get into dangerous areas and destroyed very quickly. Of course, you can send for a new Crawler momentarily, but then you can't toss it on the ground anywhere you want. First, you have to secure appropriate landing zones. High-ranking enemy units often converge on these landing zones, so if you don't have any experienced units on sight, you'll have a lot of trouble gaining the advantage. This element isn't too troubling in single-player, although it causes many confusing moments in multiplayer.
The next obvious change was made to unit progression, upgrades and gaining experience. All of these factors are crucial to your progress throughout the main campaign. Taking out as many enemy units as you can is how you get experience points. These points are added to your player profile, after which you level up and unlock new units, powers and upgrades. It's very different from earlier C&C games. You may accept it or you may not. The fact remains that this kind of unit progression and tech upgrade doesn't work as smoothly during gameplay as it ought to. And it's certainly not as fun as in the previous titles of the series.
The effort to incorporate any type of change into a familiar game environment is admirable if the change leads to improved gameplay. From that angle, I do applaud the developer's attempt to innovate. Mind you, they've clearly taken this too far. The final chapter in the Tiberium saga wasn't supposed to deviate from the familiar C&C recipe to the extent that it quite simply makes the game unpleasant and frustrating - which it does. Throughout the entire single-player campaign, I couldn't stop thinking how much I miss the old elements of gameplay - constructing a base, establishing adequate power supplies and, of course, constantly skirmishing over precious resources with your opponent. Sure, the concept is worn out, but as it stands it's sorely missed in this game.
This time around, in place of population cap limits you have certain amount of command points that determine how much units you can create during a battle. The game frequently loses its epic edge because you can never really manipulate an especially larger force, thanks to the aforementioned limit set by command points. Also, it takes a long time to learn how things work. For a series long established as one of the best real-time strategies on the market, altering the core gameplay was risky. The changes made haven't brought anything noteworthy to the once extremely popular franchise. Expect a lot of frustrations, particularly in multiplayer.
The series draws to a close, occasionally offering cool moments for both fans and newbies, fine-looking units and environments, along with traditionally corny -- but fun -- live action cinematics, as well as an epic soundtrack, works very well on most rigs;
The series was supposed to end on a high note. Instead, they've turned the game upside down, so this is not the Command & Conquer we're used to and we aren't too happy with the way things work this time around, gameplay changes often lead to frustration especially in multiplayer (which remained the heart and soul of the franchise for many years), unbalanced difficulty in solo play, Internet connection requirements are also a bother, oh and the solo campaign is short.