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Big changes and flashy visuals can't avoid Kane's legacy ending on a whimper...
Considering that Tiberian Twilight marks the final installment of Kane's story in Command & Conquer, the team at EA LA certainly haven't shied away from introducing sweeping changes to the format that has more and less governed the series for the past 15 years. Typically we're big supporters of originality and there can be no doubting that Command & Conquer 4 achieves this, but in this particular case we're inclined to wish they hadn't been so drastic.
Set 10 years after the events of Kane's Wrath, Tiberian Twilight finds the world at the brink of near collapse, consumed by the ravenous effect of Tiberium and the conflicts surrounding its control. Standing on the brink of disaster, Kane contemplates the one thing previously considered unthinkable, an alliance with the GDI, forming the Tiberium Control Network to safely harness the benefits of the deadly yet powerful source of energy. Of course such an amicable agreement wouldn't exactly be the fitting conclusion to Kane's story, and so over the course of the game's single-player campaign we discover Nod separatists and corrupt officials hell-bent on bringing further conflict.
The abundance of Tiberium is a convenient means for the team at EALA to introduce the most drastic change to the format. After 15 years of sending Harvesters to fields ripe with Tiberium and dotingly watching them return safely to the refinery, EALA has decided now is the time to remove that element from the game completely. Adopting a structure similar to Relic Entertainment's Dawn of War series and Massive's World in Conflict, Tiberian Twilight replaces the concept of resources with the introduction of a cap on unit production. Smaller units cost less, but the change typically means you'll rarely have more than 10-12 units under your control. While the decision allows the game to focus immediately on the battles and action, the switch leaves Tiberian Twilight feeling quite unlike any Command & Conquer that has before it.
Resource harvesting isn't the only thing deemed superfluous by the team at EALA. The initial process of setting up a base and defences has been removed entirely. Evidently, EA LA decided such concepts, which constituted the early processes, clogged up the game and decided to streamline the experience to cut straight to the chase. Instead the changes are geared around the introduction of the Crawler, an 'all-in-one' mobile base that allows you to advance across the battlefield as the tides of the conflict change and dictate. Each stage begins with the choice of selecting between Offense, Defence and Support classes, each of which offer varying tactical options, units and techniques to choose between. This illusion of choice seems to be little more then that, and perhaps an option that's better served when playing the campaign in Co-Op. The Defensive class offers the closest Tiberian Twilight gets to base building with a limited range of turrets to place on the surrounding area and focuses on Infantry. Support seems to be largely the domain of the Co-Op, while Offensive offers the most balanced **. Although the concept has its merits, we found the overall idea lacked a sense of development and never really encouraged us to move beyond employing one class, typically the Offensive unit.
There's a number of pitfalls that Tiberian Twilight falls into as a result of these changes. The level cap imposes a tendency to just form a relatively small battalion and move this across the battlefield, completing objectives as they occur. As a result, it's a game that focuses on one conflict at a time instead of orchestrating larger, more detailed strategies. The change is also evident in maps that feel considerably smaller than previous C&C titles, and battles that are more intimate than the grand conflicts featured in previous titles. The focus on smaller unit groups and battles is further demonstrated by the camera, which sits pretty low to the action. Although this highlights the visual splendour of the game, it restricts the ability of employing larger scale tactics and heightens the sense that you're just moving between objectives with a small group of units. It also means there's an inability to tank-rush to any satisfactory effect - shocking! Simply put, Tiberian Twilight is not the Command & Conquer that we all know and love.
The whole concept of a 'persistent experience' constitutes an RPG influenced system of unlocking new units and techniques with experience gained on the battlefield and collecting Tiberium Crystals. We'd argue that it's better demonstrated through the draconian online setup that requires a 'persistent' online connection just to get the game running, even if you're intending just to play the single-player mode. It's a setup we're thoroughly opposed to, and should be noted by anybody contemplating playing a quick mission on the bus or otherwise away from an internet connection. The setup also has further drawbacks, as there's a considerable amount of material to grind through just to unlock the more advanced units and technology that comes later in the game.
Command & Conquer fans eager to discover revelations are in for further disappointment.
In terms of story, the promised conclusion to Kane's story is largely underwhelming and lacking in terms of genuine revelations; major themes are left unanswered and important characters forgotten. It's not particularly the noteworthy send-off that Kane really deserves, but something tells us Kane's ascension isn't the final word. Although the FMV sections are of a high quality, many of the new actor's are insanely irritating (the playable character's wife in particular) and the attempt to improve C&C's customary hammy overtones leaves the sections feeling as though they're trying to achieve something they're definitely not.
Ultimately, Tiberian Twilight feels like a game that has been rushed to the shelves as once Kane's end is finally revealed there's a distinct lack of content to fall back on. The lack of a Scrin campaign can be conveniently explained by the Nod/GDI alliance, but ultimately leaves the game's Nod and GDI campaigns, consisting of seven missions, largely underwhelming and over pretty quickly. Considering Tiberium Wars featured three different factions and significantly more missions, the feeling that Tiberian Twilight is a little on the brief side is an overriding feeling that's hard to shake. The Skirmish mode, typically the legs of a Command & Conquer title, offers game types of up to 5 vs 5, but only supports Domination as a game type and 10 maps to choose between. That said, multiplayer is undeniably the highlight of the game and still manages to provide an intense and immediate experience that builds upon the series' heritage.
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