Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight
Posted 3 years ago By kingquagmire - David Collins
I love Tiberium. No, I don’t want to see the world be overtaken by the rapidly growing and extremely toxic mineral and then come to a cataclysmic end. I love it because the original Command & Conquer PC game, which began the Tiberium universe, was my first real entry into PC RTS gaming.
I fell instantly in love with the franchise and the RTS genre as a whole. It wasn’t long before the tongue-in-cheek spin-off Red Alert released and became a favorite of mine as well. But, where Red Alert began to tread derivative waters (and eventually plunged headlong into said waters with Red Alert 3), the core series was always reliable, guaranteed to provide me with hours of solid real-time strategy goodness. Now, with the recent launch of the 4th entry in the Tiberium franchise, Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight, the question is: does it still deliver? The short answer is no.
One of the franchise staples is full motion video cutscenes and in C&C4 EA doesn’t disappoint. They brought on a cast that performed well, albeit restricted by the bad dialog. Granted, there weren’t many familiar faces from previous titles, but I didn’t mind that much. While I enjoyed the acting quite a bit, the story itself sort of let me down. I’ll keep the spoilers to a minimum, but basically, the planet has become almost completely overrun with Tiberium. In just a few short years, it’s expected to make Earth totally uninhabitable and could usher in the extinction of the human race. Resident baddie Kane, with his Tacitus in hand, approaches the heads of the Global Defense Initiative (GDI) with a plan that would see GDI and the Brotherhood of Nod join forces in order to build the Tiberium Control Network. This system would keep the spread of the toxic crystals in check and allow them to harness the unlimited power it can provide. Of course, Kane wouldn’t be Kane if he didn’t have an ulterior motive. 10 years later, the truce seems to be splintering just as Kane puts his plan into action. This is where you’ll decide if you are one of GDI’s elite or an apostle of Nod.
Sounds interesting right? Yeah, I thought so as well. That is, until I finished it. It starts out great but falls flat at the end. But to be honest, that’s the way the whole game went for me. To begin with, all the gameplay I took for granted over the last 15 years was gone. Resource gathering? Absent. Base building? Not in this game. Basically, you have one main unit called a crawler. This bugger (and I mean that literally, as it looks like a giant beetle) comes in three flavors: offensive, defensive and support. You can only have one crawler on the field at any one time and it will dispatch all your playable units. The crawler is fully mobile and the way the maps and objectives are set up, it’s intended for you to keep it moving. Unpack, drop units, then pack it back up again and take your base with you. No need for a barracks or a heavy vehicle factory, this guy does it all. Though I would much rather have the classic build/defend base mechanic, I understand the shift in order to facilitate a more fast-paced game.
So, I kept an open mind. I didn’t want to let the evolution of the franchise hurt my opinion, but that wasn’t my only problem. It just wasn’t very well balanced, an issue that can make or break an RTS game. Each unit has a counter unit, so you end up spending the entire game discovering what your enemy is using and then pumping out the counter unit needed to fight them. Hindering you is the fact that you don’t have all the units available at the beginning of the game. As you play, you’ll gain experience and eventually level up. New units and upgrades are unlocked as you progress up the ranks. But, unless you play on easy, you’ll find that once you get a few maps into the campaign, you will have to go back and replay the ones you’ve already completed in order to bring your rank up enough to unlock the units you need. It’s akin to killing rats or other small creatures at the beginning of old school RPGs so you are strong enough for the next boss. It’s a tedious process and totally unnecessary.
Once you have the proper units, however, don’t think you can breathe easy. You’re still at a disadvantage. The size of your army is just plain inadequate. All your units will cost you Command Points (CP). You have a set amount of CP and you need to figure out the best combination of troops you can take out within that limit. I averaged roughly 10-15 troops at any given time, although, I found myself killing them off fairly quickly so I could free up some points to build the correct counter to my enemy’s units. In addition, most of the time I was grossly outnumbered, which just fed the fires of frustration instead of increasing the action.
I have to admit, Command & Conquer 4 did please me in the visuals department. I found it quite pretty to look at, as units look detailed and alive as did the maps filled with cliffs, cacti and construction sites (including port-a-potties!). There were plenty of options to tweak so that you could make comfortably run on a lot of different PC set-ups. I didn’t detect a single graphical glitch or have any framerate issues at all, no matter how many moving parts were on the screen. The audio shifted depending on who’s side you’ve pledged your loyalty to. Kane and the Brotherhood of Nod’s music has an almost religious undertone to it, which is appropriate as Kane thinks himself mankind’s messiah. The GDI, on the other hand, sport a more rock n roll sound, enhancing their patriotic feel.
Surprisingly, It’s not a terribly long game. The campaign has two sides to it with roughly 7 or 8 missions a piece. All of them boil down to either escorting vehicles or capturing a point, so if you’re banking on mission variety, you won’t get much here. That wouldn’t be so bad if I wasn’t so frustrated with the combat. There’s also a co-op option, a direction the game design really seems to point you toward considering how many enemies you face compared to how many troops you have, but I had a tough time matching up with anyone. Some nights it took 8 or 10 time-outs before I finally connected.
Speaking of connectivity, you should know that you need to be connected to the Internet at all times to play. The game won’t even load up unless you are able to log into EA’s servers, even if you just want to play an offline solo campaign. Now, if you do want to play online, you may be a bit underwhelmed by the lackluster set of options. Beyond the previously mentioned co-op mode, there’s a Skirmish mode that allows up to 5v5 player matches across 12 different maps. Each map only has one game type: Domination. It’s not too bad and certainly ranks above the campaign as far as overall entertainment is concerned. Oddly, your experience and unlocked units carry over from the SP into the MP. So, if your opponent is a few levels higher than you, be prepared to get your butt handed to you on a silver platter. With the out of whack balancing, short campaign and wonky MP, it’s tough to justify dropping $50 on this one.
Sure, the skirmish mode can be fun, but it’s just not enough to redeem the overall package. It’s hard to recommend an RTS game that’s more focused on fast action than it is on strategy. There are some great ideas in here but the execution just kills it. From random crashes at the main menu (an issue EA is aware of and is working on a patch for) to the dramatic, yet at times frustrating gameplay shift from previous titles, to the storyline that never quite reached the nexus it appeared to be heading toward, Tiberian Twilight is a disappointing finale for one of my favorite video game characters. Kane deserved better than this.
+ Full-motion video is still cool
+ Valiant effort to evolve the franchise...
- Gameplay needs to be balanced better
- More action than strategy
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Release Date : 2010/03/19
System : PC
Publisher : EA Games
Developer : EA Los Angeles
Category : Real Time Strategy
ESRB : T
7.0 / 10
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