It’s had a good long run (or long, anyway), but it now looks like the core storyline of the Command & Conquer franchise is coming to a close. The Tiberium saga, which began way back in 1995 with the very first C&C, is about to end. Kane’s diabolical, secret plan will finally come to fruition…or failure.
For those of us who’ve been following the series since its inception then this is an exciting time; the final war of the Tiberium universe is upon us.
So, with that in mind, it’s even more startling that Tiberium Twilight actually starts out with a declaration of peace, not war. In C&C 4’s opening, set ten years after the last game, Nod’s messianic leader visits the heads of the Global Defence Initiative and proposes peace.
"What did you say about my hair?"
More than that, he wants to help GDI recover the planet from the alien Tiberium crystals that are about to devour it. In doing so he gives all of humanity access to free, clean energy – which in gameplay terms means you’ve got a steady resource drip via Tiberium hubs; no more harvesting!
The Nod/GDI alliance may be a bit bewildering to long-time series stalwarts, but don’t worry; not all is as it seems. Betrayal comes quickly and obviously, with even Kane embarking secretly on endeavours of his own that will see him finally achieve the ‘ascension’ he’s been blathering about since the mid-90s.
Still, whether or not the betrayal is obvious, the direction that Tiberium Twilight has taken is bold to say the least – but that’s just for starters. The more time you spend with C&C 4 then the more it becomes apparent that developer EA LA hasn’t just limited itself to the story in its attempts to revolutionise the seminal RTS series. The entire core of the game has been torn asunder and put back together in a new order. The base-building focus of the core gameplay has been completely changed, for example.
If it isn't red, shoot it!
Some things have stayed the same though – most notably the first-person cutscenes and awful acting, all of which have long been a trademark of the series. EA’s definitely taken these seriously too, building lavish sets and hiring the worst actors possible. Joe Kucan’s portrayal as the megalomaniacal and mental Kane is as up to his usual standard, but the rest of the cast prove distractingly terrible. And that’s genuinely terrible, not ‘funny terrible’.
This cheesiness has always been a signature of C&C since the first games, but even this level of kitsch is too much for most of the actors to hope for in Tiberium Twilight. We wouldn’t be surprised to learn that most of them belong to the Wiseau school of acting. There simply are no cringes big enough to effectively communicate how bad they are.
While EA’s LA Studio has made some blunders when it comes to casting though, the actual storyline (such as it is) is pretty good at pulling together all the drifting threads that have entangled the franchise over the years. Very little has been left out and EA’s obviously gone to quite some length at making sure that the Tiberium saga is wrapped up once and for all. Even minor factions from previous games, like the mutants, make a show, if only a cameo. At the same time though, Tiberium Twilight is careful to never overwhelm newcomers to the series – a fact that’s worth keeping in mind for later.