Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight Review
Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight box art
System: PC Review Rating Legend
Dev: EA Los Angeles 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Electronic Arts 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: March 16, 2010 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-10 (Online) 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Teen 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
New Game, New Problems
by Andrew Groen

Command & Conquer has been around for decades, and in that time it has established a proud tradition for how it handles the RTS genre. Yet, in this latest installment, EA has thrown out those traditions like yesterday's trash. Regardless, it was with great excitement that we anticipated getting our hands on Tiberian Twilight. However, after extended time with the game, our experience wasn't entirely favorable. Despite doing a lot of things very well, Tiberian Twilight lacks the precision and strategic depth of its competitors in the genre.

Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight screenshot

The main inspiration for this change of pace has certainly been the success of the Dawn of War series of RTS games and their subsequent expansion packs. Those games have seen tremendous critical praise from their decision to remove resource gathering from the gameplay formula, instead focusing almost entirely on unit tactics and personal battles. Command & Conquer 4 seems to want to ape this move, but it never implements enough of a supporting cast of features.

Instead of resource gathering, C&C4 introduces "crawlers"; a type of mobile command center that serves as your base. From here, all of your units can be built and all of your technologies can be researched. The crawler is mobile and fast enough that you can take it with you anywhere on the map, and at a moment's notice, it can unpack and turn into a stationary base capable of pumping out units. This isn't an optional feature. If you're to have any hope of success, you'll need to bring your base along with you to every battle to replenish your forces on the spot. This was a source of frustration for us many times. No matter how good you are, you won't be able to succeed without replenishing your forces constantly, no matter how good your strategy and battle tactics are.

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This is where we ran into our first major problem with the new formula. We applaud the move to take resource gathering out of the equation, as such a system often leads to single battles becoming a back-breaking event that ruins the mission. However, there aren't nearly enough individual unit abilities or tactics to make single battles strategic engagements. Instead, both sides tend to line up their forces right next to each other, blasting each other to kingdom come while the crawlers continually pump out units ad nauseam until the tide of battle sways one way or the other and one of the crawlers is destroyed.

Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight screenshot

The tactical options come in the form of the units you select, not from your ability to use those units effectively. The problem is that you don't have access to a huge portion of the possible units until hours later in the campaign. See, the whole game functions a lot like Modern Warfare 2's online meta-game. Wherein you gain points for achievements and successful missions, which levels you up and gives you access to new weapons. It's an attempt by EA to capture the same addictive quality that came with MW2, but it ultimately fails. The main reason is because you can't really be sure what you're going to get at the next level or how it will help you.

Though we may have issues with the gameplay, we certainly applaud the graphical direction. C&C4 follows in the same vein as most popular PC games of the modern era in that the PC requirements are low. They use a stylized approach to graphics so that the game is attractive without pushing polygon counts and high-rez textures. This also allows for much more variety in the aesthetic than would be possible if it used high-end graphics technology.

Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight screenshot

That's just during gameplay, though. During the cutscenes, C&C4 still uses the classic, live-action videos that the series has become known for. Featuring real actors, these scenes are really campy and intentionally poorly acted, though they're still very entertaining. However, to their credit, this installment sees these scenes move a bit towards the dramatic side, rather than the ultra-campy direction that was common in older games. In fact, I couldn't help but feel that this current game was inspired somewhat by the cinematography of Battlestar Galactica.

Screenshots / Images
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