Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight

Review

posted 5/31/2010 by Tom Bitterman
other articles by Tom Bitterman
One Page Platforms: PC
No actors were harmed in the making of this game.  Apparently, no actors were employed in the making of this game.  I mean, the acting credits are presented on page five of the manual (the EULA is right up front – you knew EA was evil, and they do not disappoint) so at least the game is upfront with where its priorities lie.  The cut-scenes are amazingly cheesy.  This doesn't go well with the more serious tone this installment of the C&C epic is trying to establish and sets a bad tone right off the bat.

For, you see, this is the big one.  Finally, we find out what that Tiberium stuff really is and why it keeps getting stuck in-between the cushions.  Who is this Kane guy and what does he really want?  Who would name their side Nod?  Why does Kane look so much like the reviewer's brother?  Of course you don't get very good answers to any of these questions – C&C is not ending any time soon – but at least a few questions are put to bed.


Some story continuity is a good thing, as the gameplay itself has undergone some major changes.  C&C has been around for so many years it could hardly be expected that the series remain unchanged.  Still, the changes are substantial.  There is no more resource gathering – gone are harvesting units and the complications attendant upon building, protecting and waiting upon them.  Your static base has grown some wheels and is now called a Crawler.  It drives around with your other units, blasting away at enemies and squirting out new units on command.

Well, almost on command.  The player is limited by three factors: command points, unit tiers, and unit class (more on this later).  Both command points and unit tiers are, at base, derived from player experience levels in an RPG-like manner.  As the player gains more experience (kills more opposing units, wins more scenarios, etc.) they gain the ability to command more units, and more units become unlocked and available for construction.


This is an interesting, yet frustrating mechanic.  It enables the player to ease into the system by limiting the number and powers of the units at the beginning of the game.  RTS games often become a race to get the the best units, which are then used exclusively through the rest of the game and in multi-player.  C&C4 forces the player to really appreciate those 1st level grunts before moving on to the fancy stuff.  The frustration comes in when you realize that there are all these neat units, but you can't use them because the designer doesn't want you to.  And you paid for the game.  What's up with that?

That's not the biggest issue with who really owns the game.  You must be connected to the internet to play the game.  Must.  If your connection drops, your game is ended.  Even in single-player.  The game keeps track of your experience points and stores them on-line, so the uplink is being used.  Of course, who knows what else EA is watching?
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