The release of Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight is imminent and EA is putting on the finishing touches. A multiplayer beta has been live for quite some time, but the servers will be shut off before the launch of the game. Thankfully before that takes place, I had the opportunity to do some investigative reporting (read: game playing with a purpose) and am here to present my impressions.
First, I have never played through an entire Command & Conquer game. However, I’m fully aware of how this is a beloved series to many and has been a staple for the RTS community for years. Needless to say, I was anxious to jump in and take the multiplayer mode for a test drive.
GDI and NOD is the big choice to make before entering a match. Voice chat works in the team selection screen. It was nice being able to selectively mute someone if they get on your nerves even before the match begins. Loading into a match not only shows your computer’s progress but the progress of each player. Once your all at 100%, the show starts.
Tiberian Twilight’s multiplayer experience is fast paced but not frenetic. It’s apparent right away because ten seconds is all you get to decide what class to play: offense, defense, or support. Each one offers different units, powers, and crawlers. Do you like to hang back and protect key areas? Or would your rather use brute force to take over control points?
Choosing a new class is not a luxury that’s available unless your crawler is destroyed. Since that also gives your opponents a healthy chunk of points and puts you out of commission for a short period, it’s not really a viable option. Effective management of your crawler can also change the tide of a battle. It becomes a balancing act of bringing it close enough to the action to provide support and a steady supply of reinforcements, but not allowing the enemy to overwhelm and destroy it.
I gravitated toward the NOD Support class, but found it easy to see the strengths of each option. None of the classes need to collect resources. Command points replace resource gathering and creates the ability to build units right from the start. Instead of saving up to build units, you are only restricted by the number of points you have left since different units use up differing amounts of points. One of the upgrades available is the total number of command points at your disposal.
To be honest, it doesn’t matter what class you choose to play. Just make sure you play it well. The better you do, the more experience and upgrade points you receive. More experience means higher levels, better units, and more effective abilities. Abilities or powers vary and add another layer of strategy. At certain points I was able to increase my teams visual range, decrease my opponents effectiveness, and boost other stats.
The biggest problem that I ran into was going into a match and being outgunned. I was amazed at the shear number of units my enemy could create in comparison to my own army. Or, my enemy would have massive ships that tore through anything I sent. Certainly this will improve once the “more veteran” group gets to higher ranks and leaves the rest of use facing similarly ranked opponents.
Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight has changed a lot of things central to the series. This may not sit well with die-hard fans. However, I had no emotional baggage to check and had a thoroughly enjoyable experience. The action is fast but still requires strategy and teamwork. I found myself wondering how I could have done things differently and wanting to play “just one more match.” That, in my mind, means that EA has won. I’ll be anxious to find out if the rest of the experience pays similar dividends in just a few weeks.