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There will be no celebrity cameos, no professional wrestlers tackling men in bear costumes anywhere in Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight, the planned final chapter in EA's real-time strategy Tiberium saga. But there will be plenty of Kane.
While thousands of gamers were playing the long-anticipated StarCraft II beta earlier this week, we were getting our first hands-on time with 2010's other big RTS, a chance to experience the futuristic and grittier than ever before Tiberian Twilight. While the direction has taken a turn for the "grittier and darker," it may be better interpreted as less cheesy, as the game's initial live action cinematics, a series trademark, quickly set the mood.
Seen from the eyes—or, rather, ocular implants—of a Global Defense Initiative soldier, Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight sets the stage for a tense alliance between the game's long-opposed factions, the GDI and the Brotherhood of Nod. The mistrust for Kane and his plans for a Tiberium Control Network that could save the world are quickly laid out, as the game leads into its first real-time strategy battles.
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At the start of a mission, players can choose between Offense, Defense and Support classes, each of which serves a very distinct purpose on the battlefield and consists of unique units, powers and upgrades. One of the intended side-effects of having classes is that it makes the game more approachable for a wider audience. As C&C4 lead designer Sam Bass pointed out, he recently played the entire single player campaign using only the Support class, because, “I’m a turtle, which means I suck at a lot of the games I make, because they don’t really support turtle play. But this one does, which makes me very happy.”
What Did We See?
My hands-on time with the game consisted of playing through the first five levels of the single-player campaign. The first three levels serve as tutorials for the three combat classes. One of the great new additions to the game is the Crawler, which is basically a mobile base that allows you to build and deploy troops wherever and whenever you want. You can also build units while the Crawler is on the move, giving you a chance to queue up troops while you travel between locations.
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Probably the biggest change to the game is that they have removed the need for resource gathering. That means there's no need to micromanage crystal gathering in order to create your troops. Now, while the staple troops from previous games are still present in the game, the way in which you access them as been more streamlined. When you first start off a mission you can choose one of three class types, each with its own mobile production base. Each of the three class types (defensive, offensive, and support) have their own arrangement of units, vehicles and upgrades to bring to the fight, so deciding which role to play in a mission is a big part of the strategy. You can change out your class type a limited number of times during a campaign, and doing so is often important since the campaigns are very much more objective based.
As far as storyline goes, the game picks up 15 years after the alliance was formed to help save humanity, and guess what, Kane is back and playing as pivotal a role as ever. Apparently we'll finally be able to find out his true motives and identity, and the GDI campaign should help wrap things up a bit more. It seems that both the GDI and the Nod will have single player campaigns to play through, each with a smaller set of missions from the last, since many players didn't actually make it all the way through the campaign modes last time due to the sheer number of missions.