Kimberley Ellis
26 Apr, 2010

Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight Review

PC Review | A lackluster end to a compelling saga.
The birth of the Command & Conquer series in 1995 was a major event for the gaming scene, with the original Command & Conquer proving to be a worldwide hit and a title which changed the face of real-time strategy gaming forever. But what goes up, must eventually come down and now fifteen years on from its celebrated beginning, the once spirited gaming franchise is now a mere shadow of its former glory. What was once a fresh, clever game design is now staler than last week's loaf of bread and with fans moving on to other RTS titles such as: Supreme Commander 2, Dawn of War II and the upcoming StarCraft II thanks to their fresh take on the strategy genre, EA LA went back to the drawing board in an attempt to win back those that have drifted away from the series. But while the intention was honourable, the execution was far from successful with the title now standing as an unrecognisable mash up of formulas borrowed from other games, effectively abandoning the series base-building roots and taking away the heart and soul of the franchise. While innovation is something that should be applauded, the lack of respect for the fan base and a lackluster single-player campaign make Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight a bitter pill to swallow.

True to form, Tiberian Twilight sticks to its traditional convention, with the game equipped with the usual gamut of gameplay options spanning solo, skirmish, and multiplayer modes. As in previous iterations, you'll tackle campaigns from both the perspective of the Brotherhood of Nod and the Global Defense Initiative (GDI), though the newly added alien race (the Scrin) from Command & Conquer 3 are conspicuously absent from this title. The missions themselves won't particularly surprise you: there are a number of convoys that require your escorting expertise, enemy forces to be obliterated, and buildings to be defended as the game tugs you along through its carefully scripted sequence of events. At first glance, Tiberian Twilight does what many iterations of Command & Conquer have done in the past, but that's where the similarities end as the game turns everything you've come to know (and love) about the series on its head.

Upon loading up the game, players will quickly realise that the days of careful planning and resource gathering are long gone, with Tiberian Twilight playing a more action-oriented style of gameplay. With this push towards fast-paced action the game goes against everything the series has stood for with strategy proving to be a non-existent factor. In lieu of building a sprawling base which covers a considerable part of the map, your base is now essentially one mobile unit dubbed the 'Crawler'. The Crawler is able to unpack and repack itself at will to deploy to a better tactical position, enabling it to sit in the background and churn out immediate reinforcements at will. Rather than gathering resources, your ability to build units is based on a points cap much like that in Company of Heroes, a horrible move which seriously limits your battlefield options by creating a balance that can make some matches drag on for eternity. If that's not hampering your game enough, EA LA has also decided to allow you to choose only one class of base (offense, defense or support), significantly limiting your options as each base class only offers players a handful of units. As you can only have one base on the battlefield at all times, this gives you a meagre arsenal to play with. To really harness the powerful units, gamers will be forced into tipping some significant hours into the skirmish and multiplayer side of the game in order to gather experience points to grind up through the title's levelling system - a novel idea, but it really doesn't seem suited to an RTS game.

Command & Conquer has always been about swift gameplay, but Tiberian Twilight serves as a complete contrast to the Command & Conquer series as the game forces you to think so quickly on your feet that there is no time to strategise and thoroughly plan your attack. It all becomes instinctual and soon you'll realise that it boils down to being nothing more than a speedy game of rock, paper, scissors - as you'll quickly have to figure out which units best counter what the enemy has sent your way in order to successfully push forward in the game.

rock, paper, mammoth tank.

rock, paper, mammoth tank.

Those who remember the lengthy single-player campaign in Command & Conquer 3, will be in for a surprise here as the campaign in Tiberian Twilight is relatively brief, with three short tutorial missions which set up the initial premise before you are forced to make a choice of which side to join. From that part, each faction will provide you with an additional seven missions.

Eventhough you play the story from different perspectives, each side will follow along with the same major plot points. EA LA does some interesting things with this mission structure by letting you see the same events from both sides of the conflict. For instance, in one of the more memorable Nod missions, youll need to blast a gigantic GDI ship out of the sky by swarming the map and capturing anti-air towers to bring it down. When you play through the subsequent GDI mission, you'll play through the aftermath of that scenario, frantically repairing the ship to get it back into the air and back into the fight. The game also comes equipped with the option to play through the campaign co-operatively, which after you've played through a few solo missions, it'll become pretty clear that this game was designed to be played co-operatively or it will frustrate you into a monitor punching level of aggravation. As a single-player game the title is poorly scripted, horribly designed, expedition into boredom. In order for the game mechanics to succeed, it requires a mix of classes - which is where the multiplayer portion of the title shines through.

The multiplayer aspect of Tiberian Twilight works much better than the single-player portion, this is most apparent if you play 3v3 or 5v5 battles. Although, the cohesion and enjoyment of multiplayer relies on two things: that every class is represented to give you a great selcetion of units and that you can find a group of players willing to work with you as a co-operative unit. Holding back the multiplayer from true greatness is that the maps aren’t that well thought out, with each battle ultimately forced into each team vying for control of the Tiberium deposits in order to upgrade its units, making it quite a tough challenge to build up enough momentum to make that push for victory.

Cut-scenes are the usual live-action fare that we've come to expect from the series, though gone is the cringeworthy yet cheesy humour that fans have embraced. This time around the focus is on providing darker, grittier action, but as you watch another actor direct their withering gaze towards the camera you'll quickly realise that this game won't be winning any acting awards anytime soon - as it is nothing short of a melodramatic sci-fi soap opera that looks like a cheap TV show that was acted out in someone's garage.

Watch Everybody Loves Kane, tonight on channel Nod.

Watch Everybody Loves Kane, tonight on channel Nod.

Visually, the game is quite a polished effort with the graphics showing off futuristic looking military units. What is most baffling about the game's visual look is that the units have a colourful, cartoonish look to them which completely contradicts the dark storyline which the title attempts to portray.

One thing we can't fault is the musical score, something which has always been impressive with the Command & Conquer titles. Although it doesn’t stand out as some of the music from previous titles has, the orchestral backing is fitting to what unfolds on screen.It adds some drama to situations, while also helping to punctuate the tense action in-game. Unfortunately, the sound effects and in-game voiceovers incredibly repetitive with units repeating the same line of dialogue every time you command them. It is one of the most annoying aspects of the title and definitely a detractor from your overall enjoyment.

By far the greatest annoyance with the title is the terrible DRM system that EA has forced down player's throats. Playing Tiberian Twilight requires you to have an EA account and you have to be signed in and online for the entire time you play the game. Unfortunately there is no offline mode with even the single-player portion of the title requiring you to be signed in to an EA server.

With all the money that EA have tipped into the series since their acquisition of Westwood so long ago, it seems unlikely that EA is finished flogging this dead horse, though its a sad state of affairs to see that the long-term faithful are not being rewarded for their loyalty. While we applaud the attempt to inject some new life into such an old franchise, the bottom line is that is should alway be fun to play, and aside from the multiplayer there isn't anything that will keep you engaged in the long-term here.

As a single-player game Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight completely fails to bring players the experience that they expect (not to mention deserve) and should be avoided at all costs. For those that purely enjoy their RTS gaming from a multiplayer perspective, there are a number of reasons to have a crack at this title. Long term fans of the series should just dig out their copies of the original Command & Conquer and reminisce over the days when C&C was cool.
The Score
As a single-player game Tiberian Twilight is a complete failure, though multiplayer is somewhat redeeming. Though long-term fans of the franchise would do better to crack out one of the older titles and reminisce over the series' glory days. 6
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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3 years ago
PALGN wrote
Though long-term fans of the franchise would do better to crack out one of the older titles and reminisce over the series' glory days.
Just make sure it's not Tiberium Sun (C&C2), because that sounds like it's on par with this new game.

Two lame duck RTS games in one month (SupCom2). At least DoW2's expansion last month was good though.
3 years ago
Hey Tiberium Sun was awesome back in the day. All 3 old titles (C&C, TibSun and Red Alert) are freeware now, only reason I picked up PPCP as they are 1 gig each.
3 years ago
I liked Tiberian Sun. It was simple, and that's just how I like an RTS. None of this "macro this" and "macro that" complicated crap that we have today.
3 years ago
Tib Sun was a good series in that underlying the gameplay, Tiberium translates well to mining and crude oil, sure you get as many units but you ultimately screw up the world in process. Social commentary that's then overlapped with the differing ideologies of companies who wish to exploit it (GDI / Nod)
3 years ago
Lol at the reference to Starcraft 2 being anything new
that game is just lucky the first was such an amazing game and a remake isn't such bad thing

long live cnc1 my first ever rts, I even had the secret missions
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  18/03/2010 (Confirmed)

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