Welcome Back, Commander
While some efforts have been made to keep the plot and presentation consistent with previous games in the series though, in terms of actual gameplay Tiberium Twilight
is about as far away from a normal C&C
game as it’s possible to imagine.
In fact, it’s almost as if EA has carefully considered what the hallmarks of the series are and then set about abolishing them one by one. The most basic staples of C&C
have been pried off and replaced with new ideas. In old C&C
games players would take delight in creating huge bases with colossal numbers of tanks and turrets, but now even the option to do that has been torn out of the game.
There’s no base building or harvesting at all now – just one single factory which creates all units in a matter of seconds. Don’t go thinking that that means you can have gargantuan sized armies of flame tanks though, because a strict population count stops things from ever getting close too breathtaking.
Friendly units will auto-repair if close to your Crawler
Hell, Tiberium Twilight
even has a rudimentary lives system now, though that’s not what EA has chosen to call it. Whatever the proper name for it is though, it still means that if your forces are truly squashed then you can quickly just deploy another construction yard and start turning out heavy tanks again within a few seconds. You can do this a set number of times for each mission, then no more. So, it’s a lives counter.
Even the construction yard itself has changed into a new heavily armoured, mobile monstrosity called the Crawler. The Crawler creates all your other units and is even able to do so while on the move, though it can only deploy these creations when it’s unpacked and static. That means it’s fairly easy to complete the construction of a few heavy tanks and then unpack your Crawler next to an enemy base, rolling out tanks in a surprise attack – though how likely that tactic is to succeed will depend on whether you’re using an Offence, Defence or Support class Crawler.
The three classes speak for themselves (except perhaps for the aircraft and power-centric Support Class), but it’s worth explaining that they all have totally unique units and abilities. The Offence Crawler can spew out tanks faster than you can possibly send your men to their deaths, but it can’t build turrets at all. Similarly, Defence Crawlers can have loads of Turrets, but can’t deploy heavier units or use the Support class’s minefield ability.
Worst. Actress. Ever.
This class mechanic is meant for one thing; to pull you into C&C 4
’s co-op mode and make you team up with players using complimentary Crawler classes. There’s unfortunately no co-op campaign, but you can play through the singleplayer game in co-op and doing so is definitely the best way to play C&C 4
, even if the narrow focus of the classes means that you end up unable to weave much variation into your tactics.
The lack of tactical variation is a real problem for C&C 4
and it stems from a lack of complexity. If you start a mission by deploying an Offense Crawler then there’s nothing between you and your most powerful units – no Tech Centre to be built, no resources to capture. So, you just create as many of them as you can until you hit the population cap. That takes about two minutes, then you attack, chasing enemy bases around the map until you wear them down. There’s no lead in or build up that requires you to plan your advance along the tech tree or how you’ll ration resources. There are no resources, while the tech tree is handled by a fluffy RPG system in between missions that gives you more units the longer you play as a class.
The only subtlety comes from the countering system, which isn’t wholly new but is a lot more overtly put across than it has been before. Every time you click on an enemy now then the UI tells you what forces you should summon against it. Likewise, select some friendly units and the game will highlight exactly which types of enemies they are most suited to battle with. Again, it’s something that will definitely be appreciated by more casual gamers, but for seasoned RTS veterans then C&C 4
has crossed from simple accessibility into patronising hand-holding.