Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight Hands-On - Early Single-Player Game

We get our hands on an early version of the Tiberium saga's final chapter.

Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight will bring an end to the infamous "Tiberium" saga, which began with the dawning of real-time strategy games way back in 1996. The new game will rejoin the struggle between the Global Defense Initiative and the Brotherhood of Nod, who have come together in an uneasy truce to fight off the continuing pollution of the planet by Tiberium, the highly toxic but energy-rich crystals that have been a primary resource in Command & Conquer since the beginning of the series. However, throughout the course of the game, the treaty becomes strained and conflict breaks out between the two factions. We had a chance to try out a single-player mission midway through the GDI campaign and have much to report.

C&C4 will have all the explosions and fireworks of the previous games--and then some.

As we've mentioned in our previous coverage of the game, Command & Conquer 4 is taking a very different approach to its single-player and multiplayer modes by incorporating role-playing elements throughout the entire game. You can choose to play as one of three different "classes." There is offense, which focuses primarily on powerful ground units, such as tanks; defense, which focuses on defensive structures and emplacements, such as turrets; and support, which focuses on cooperative support measures and air superiority.

Every single enemy unit you destroy on the battlefield grants experience points to your user profile, which can be spent at a command center-like interface (the version we saw was not final) that lets you purchase new units. You can also purchase unlockable upgrades for the units you already own, such as the crawler, which is the game's new mobile base that can be outfitted with powerful weapons once you unlock higher-tier upgrades for it. The current, working version of this upgrade interface currently works off of a point-buying system that assigns a certain number of points to each unit--with more-powerful, higher-tier units costing more points, as you might expect. These command points also count toward your "population cap," which is the maximum number of units you can have active in play. And the current, working version of the game has no other restrictions on your unit loadout other than the point system. So, if you prefer, you can load up on the most heavy-duty units in your arsenal, but if you do, you'll be stuck with a necessarily smaller army that costs more and takes longer to produce.

After suiting up with a preset loadout for the offense class and a fistful of upgrades, we started our campaign session in the "Junktown" area. This was the same level we saw in our earlier preview, in which a GDI dropship had crash-landed in a desert and our mission was to get it back up and running. We started the mission equipped with a single crawler base near the crash site, but we were quickly able to deploy mixed forces consisting of wolf and hunter tanks with a few engineers to scavenge any wreckage we found.

Our first order of business was to capture three different bases under the control of the "Forgotten," a neutral mutant faction (which made its first appearance in Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun). By rolling forward and methodically churning out light and medium units, as well as closing the gap by continuously uprooting our crawler base to follow in lockstep behind our troops, we were able to grind through the disorganized mutants without too much of a struggle. The crawler, while deployed as a stationary base, radiates a power bonus that continuously repairs any damaged vehicles and heals any damaged infantry on your side. However, once it gets upgraded to tier 2, the crawler can also be equipped with increasingly powerful mounted weapons, both in stationary mode and on the move. This marks a pretty big shift from traditional real-time strategy gameplay where your primary command center/town hall structure is often nothing more than a big, fat, sitting duck. C&C4's upgraded, armed crawler turns bases into last-ditch defensive perimeters when stationary and mobile artillery are on the go.

The defense class will have powerful protective upgrades.

One of the reasons we were able to get the upper hand easily on the Forgotten was that (with guidance from producer Jim Vesella) we were quickly able to focus in on building counterunits to the Forgotten's mostly medium-level ground vehicles (which currently consist of lumbering melee-based armor suits and a machine-gun mounted bus driven by a maniac). While there will absolutely be a counter system in C&C4, it'll be based less on having certain weaponry types work against certain unit classes (such as rockets being effective antiair weapons as in previous games) and will instead focus more on weapon types versus armor types. Most units of a certain size and level (light, medium, heavy) will have comparable armor types and will be vulnerable to similar weapon types. This will make fending off an assault a much more-accessible, easy-to-remember process because you'll be able to identify an enemy's vulnerabilities by its unit's approximate size on sight, rather than having to remember what specific type of weapon counters an individual enemy. In addition, C&C4 will also have brightly color-coded weapon contrails that will clearly indicate whether you're using the "right" or "wrong" counterunit to attack a certain enemy.

Once we picked up on this nuance, we were able to roll over the defenses at the first Forgotten base much more easily, and after killing them off, we moved our forces in close to switch the control point's alignment to ours. Once we did, we were able to commission Forgotten units of our own and run roughshod over the remaining two control points. We then gained experience for our kills in the process and picked up several glowing bonus items. Currently, the game has two sorts of bonus items that can be dropped: a glowing blue box, which provides an immediate veterancy upgrade to the unit that picks it up (as well as makes the unit much tougher in battle); and a glowing green box exclusive to the offense class, which gives an attack boost to any unit that nabs it. Throughout the course of our sojourn, we discovered the husk of a gigantic mastodon walker, which was a huge armored unit with heavy-duty weapons that we were able to repair with help from one of our own engineer units. Later on, we encountered Forgotten troops that had commandeered a few mammoth tanks, which, when defeated, also left salvage that could be repaired under our control.

After capturing all three Forgotten bases, a working mastodon, and a handful of mammoth tanks, we figured we were in the clear and ready to start repairs on the dropship. Unfortunately, our activity had given away our position to Nod, which, as it turns out, had key locations of its own on the map. We scrambled back to the carrier to peel off the Nod forces that were hammering the ship, including light attack bikes, raiders, and the infamous scorpion tank. Nod still seems to be a tricky faction on the battlefield, and its scorpion tanks are not only as agile as ever, but they can also burrow underground and reappear elsewhere. However, thanks to our heavy artillery and our continuous supply of Forgotten troops, we were able to pound them into the ground as well, leaving the dropship to finally repair itself and take off. With the mission completed, we were free to head back to the command center interface to spend our experience points buying new upgrades and move on to the next mission.

Command & Conquer returns in all its laser-zapping glory next year.

C&C4 already seems like it will have lots to offer--plenty of new and returning units for both the GDI and Nod factions, different character classes to explore, and a persistent unlock system that constantly challenges you to earn enough new experience points and levels to get access to new units and new upgrades. Having had a chance to play the game, we're already intrigued and looking forward to seeing more of the game. The game is scheduled to ship in 2010.

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Discussion

257 comments
Efilais
Efilais

Oh nooooo! How could they? This was the BEST game ever! I used to play DOW. Then they made DOW 2......... Worst mistake ever! I even bought it just to try it (altough i knew how it would be) But i had to.. Ive played every DOW game. And they go and mess it up with DOW 2.. Dooh! And now they take the only game that was better than that and do the same thing! EA! Dont do like THQ.. This is a sad time. Dont mess with the gameplay of such awesome games!

klitfelt
klitfelt

This is so stupid. Im really chocked and upset!!! How on earth can they come up with the idea of changing the gameplay? I mean... I played every cnc game since the first one and that is because of the easy to learn and addictive strategy gameplay which they profited on the last 15 years. And thrilled millions of fans. I have looked forward to this game since Kanes Wrath(cnc3 is imo the best ever in the series) and when I see what they have done with cnc4 I really share a tear and thinking this cant be true. They ruined it....

glassfish8
glassfish8

yeah this will suck with RPG and pop cap!!! the 3rd is the best

sirius4k
sirius4k

EA kicking their fans in the nuts =/ Again. They are taking an awesome game and transforming it into some hideous pile of crap. No Harvesters ?? WTF.. Harvesters are part of Tiberium story !! Why would someone turn a great strategy game into some weird half-baked RPG ?? Crap.

sandyqbg
sandyqbg

RPG elements! Classes! POP CAP!!! My boot! EA's gone mad... I mean raving mad... Why can't they leave a good franchise alone? Why do they have to 'improve' it and end up destroying the unique flavour of the series? See what they did to good ol' RA. Now CnC too? It's a scandal! Even the classes and RPG elements seem moderately acceptable, even though they seem to slow down the pace of the game and speed is what sets CnC apart. But pop cap? This is not CnC, this is... this... I don't know... any other cheap RTS game. I hope they haven't diluted the storyline and acting which has so far been the strong point of the franchise.

kevin109
kevin109

a140lbstud you are a 100% wrong because one there is going to be a Harvester and two there is going to be base building, the game looks perfect, I don't know what you mean about death match but there probably is going to be one (whatever that is), Tiberian is the money or economy in this game,and EA did not slip money under the table for Gamespot because Gamespot is telling the truth about this game and all the other games so if you i'm lying then you are wrong again. if you don't like what I say then tell me but i always be mad about the things you said about C&C4.

kevin109
kevin109

This game is going to rock! :)

Ezmai_RauteZ
Ezmai_RauteZ

Oh and lets not forget to add the sound of a huge thud (like hmm when the T-rex approached the cars on Jurrasic park, the water vibration, u get me yet???) that would be a kool approach...

Ezmai_RauteZ
Ezmai_RauteZ

What they should do as the crawler (or any huge vehicle) moves, little rocks and debri should vibrate, shake a little on the screen, would definitely make the crawler feel ALOT BIGGER!!! how about that EA :P

Ezmai_RauteZ
Ezmai_RauteZ

Does anyone remember the first command & conquer game? as u play through it you unlock more and more? and then came out Red Alert in which had the skirmish mode (everything was accesible already) Maybe they are trying to give you the feeling of the first C&C afterall via buying things to unlock them instead..

GoodGuy729
GoodGuy729

The real question is, will this game finally move into the 21st century and actually be able to be run on a 64-bit OS like Win-7???

Monkey-Maniac
Monkey-Maniac

I just hope they don't lose that classic feeling you get when you play C&C... Should be good though!

kevin109
kevin109

EA games made the best C&C games I ever played and I don't care what mean things you have to say about C&C 4, I say that this game is going to be just as good as all the other Command & Conquer games.

gizmmo
gizmmo

@ramin2100: ROFL Nice graphics but C&C titles never had a major problem with that. They had a problem with balance tho...

ramin2100
ramin2100

Omg!!! no bases? is it C&C? i dont think so. EA plz dont ruin my memories 2. C&C series were the best rts games ever made.

VonBulow
VonBulow

Of course the game looks good. I'll just wait the requisite 6 to 12 months for the 10+ patches to be issued to fix all the inevitable crashes in the game. EA never did fix all the bugs in the Tiberium saga. There is no reason to assume they're going to completely fix this one. Don't expect "customer service" to have a clue on how to troubleshoot the crashes either. They will just go through the motions of clearing cache, killing unnecessary processes, etc...

SSeetoh
SSeetoh

They changed their gameplay, which is good but they should not have copied it from THQ games. such as the commander thingy. I think they should have made an entirely new concept. Now that would bring back the C&C crowd

g3n3r41xan
g3n3r41xan

@Kulcan I agree too its not good to test totally new stuff on a series that has been great thus far. no bases for a cnc game that has had bases from the very first game up until now. I don't know it might turn out good but to be honest they could have done these things on a totally new game or something before applying it on this. but time will tell whether this will turn out good or not.

Kulcan
Kulcan

@Patton54 Yea I agree , change can be good . but.. also look at DoW 2 , It doest feel anymore like the first one .The first Dawn of War still one of the RTS ever , can not say the same about the second one. It seems C&C IV follows the same steps IMO. These are cases where the innovation is a total success or a huge failure But well.. Lets wait the final result..

tat2pap
tat2pap

you are looking at the best rts of 2010

cccp3000
cccp3000

It is a fantastic game, I'm a huge C&C fan, the story of the game is unique & very interesting, but I think what's wrong with the game is KANE. Well, can the man die or he's just a 50-60 year old guy that looks like thirty. However, I hope the new & the last part of the series be a neat ending for a game which has changed the world of strategy games forever.

Johnay56
Johnay56

I don't believe it. Kanes been "dead" before. I've been a diehard C&C fan my whole life and I know one thing's for sure. Can't isn't going to die. I mean think about it. All the crap we went through to really dead 6 his ass and what happens? He marinates in Cabal's.... whatever chamber and comes out looking like nothing happened. Trust me. There's alot more story to be milked here like Halo. Kane may go away for a little while (as usual) but he's not dead...

Patton54
Patton54

is there somes going and flagging thumbs down on everyone who says something good? seriously people, change can be good. Look at AoE 1 to AoE 2, amazing upgrade.

Gammet25
Gammet25

I heard that the command and conquer series is getting overrated, people are getting bored of it now. yeah...

g3n3r41xan
g3n3r41xan

I really don't want to comment negatively on an unreleased product. Even if 99% chance that this game might turn bad there is still that 1% of it being a really neat game. So lets just wait for it to be released and see reviews and then decide. surely EA will have some sort of beta or demo for us, hopefully.

MiiWiiNumber2
MiiWiiNumber2

ive never gotten any of the command and conquer games, but after reading this, i regret it

Kulcan
Kulcan

Damn they killed the C&C formula with this..... but well , I hope a good game at least.

AfroDeLiGht
AfroDeLiGht

This game is a disgrace to C&C, it offends me what they are doing to the gameplay series.

tomemozok
tomemozok

Can't W8 to come out.The best multiplayer RTS out there.

glowurm74
glowurm74

is it true? Kane's gonna die?

Rolandvz
Rolandvz

I'm going to miss C&C I have played it since I was little. I never really like the Tiberum C&C tho. I'm more of a Red Alert fan, but I do like tiberum. I haven't played any of the games past Generals Zero Hour. Because I have an old computer. I hope this game is good.

Doomzzg
Doomzzg

it still looks sheet

RA2Freak2TheMax
RA2Freak2TheMax

while it looks like it could be promissing i dont like the idea of changing the way C&C is played as much as they are heck i had a hard enough time retraining myself when they reversed what mouse button did what

supersledge
supersledge

Holy mother of god this game looks amazing!!!! gaint moving bases!!! AHHHHH!!!!! for the brotherhood!!!

anthonettex
anthonettex

for those who want a C&C game with simple RTS mechanics, guess what - there is a game for you after all: it's called C&C 3 tiberium wars and for heaps and heaps of fun and nostalgia, you can't go past RA2, the most fun I've ever had with an RTS ! This game is looking promising - I couldn't care less for SC2 until it actually comes out offcourse. Thanks EA for trying something different, and if it flops, well I can always fall back on C&C3

FLiPMaSTa1
FLiPMaSTa1

@ NoseWeed619 Yes, they have said this will be the final installment to the series, I hope they pull it off Im a Red Alert fan

NoseWeed619
NoseWeed619

Is this going to be the final Command and Conquer game?

thunderx18
thunderx18

Too much violence. Classification board may aswell ban this game too.. SoB's. On a serious note, I liked C&C 3 - and the finale for this franchise ought to shape up to an even better game.

Mr-47-47
Mr-47-47

wxciting stuff , release it quick !!!

RekEyed
RekEyed

I ve been playing this saga for over a decade. I can't describe how excited I am ! :D

metalliod
metalliod

This game rocks.....when compared to the Red Alert 3.

tat2pap
tat2pap

its going to be the best rts of 2010 , c&c truely conquers.