05 April 2013

"Command & Conquer" 4:Tiberian Twilight (rated R)

It has been a long time, but it seems that this will be another one of those rare "Rated R reviews". So sensitive readers can stop reading now. Those who want to know the truth about "Command & Conquer" 4 may proceed.










To anyone buying this game at full price- I feel really sorry for you. I picked this game up as part of a "3 for 2" bundle in the bargain bin. I didn't even know there had been a CC4 released.

This game is the ultimate "FUCK YOU" to the fans of the series. Granted that things had been going seriously downhill over the last decade for the C&C franchise, but this was supposed to be the last game of the Command & Conquer series and it ends with ElectronicArts squatting over the legacy taking a big shit all over it.

First of all I had to screw around with the "Origin" anti-piracy bullshit for over an hour before I even got the game to start. Then I got a gut feeling that things would be really bad when I saw the title screen that just conveyed a cheap first impression. That feeling was cemented when the intro video started running - the C&C games have always been known for cheesy live action videos telling the story - but in this game it was beyond bad and I felt embarrassed  for the actors. Everything just looks so cheap and halfassed it just pissed me off.

There wasn't even a fraction of the "campy but convincing" feeling of previous actors/actresses that played roles in earlier games of the series, these people just looked constipated and lost - like an unguided bunch of LARP'ers.

Then the game begins. The graphics are such that you can barely tell what the fuck is going on, everything just blends together in a mass of shiny explosions and armour reflections. All units basically look the same, and are the same height, and they love to stand in a tight crowd when shooting to max out the potential for an epileptic seizure to strike down the user. That would still be tollerable had it not been for the tiny detail of... no base building... W.T.F.
....
....
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Is this a joke? Maybe it's only due to the first mission serving as a tutorial.. for combat? Maybe, I thought,  there would be something later on in the game or in skirmish mode.

The answer is no. There is no base bulding, there is no resource handling either. There is only a mobile command central vehicle that shits out units until you reach the unit cap. It does not require anything of you and the unit cap makes this a game where you control 15 vehicles/infantry men walking around in a group. And even if your command vehicle is killed, you just get a new one for free without consequence. Great huh? There is absolutely nothing that justifies this lazy and misguided direction which takes away the core gameplay element which helped to cement the RTS genre in gaming.

My head started pounding and my vision started blurring at this point, still I pressed on like an idiot in search of something, anything, redeeming. Only finding more and more things that provoked me. The combat was half assed, the base building had been replaced by you picking one of three combat roles "attacking/defending/something else that was forgettable" and your troops and abilities available became based upon that choice in the game.

Units had a ton of hot key special abilities, half of which were completely useless in a single player mode - though I understand this must be aimed at the multiplayer crowd (which is playing Starcraft II and couldn't care less about this game). The game even came with a large spreadsheet outlining all the hotkeys ,which were basically covering the entire keyboard and make it feel like you are writing a short story in MS Word and not playing when using them.

You increase the unit cap marginally by capturing some kind of victory point nodes. This is similar to how it worked in Warhammer 40.000: Dawn of War, and the way you select your battlefield specialization is very similar to how things work in Company of Heroes. However, C&C4 is like a backwards cousin compared to those other two games and doesn't even come within a mile of what those other games achieved in terms of gameplay and entertainment value.

I forced myself to play through 2 missions of the campaign before I got fed up and launched the skirmish mode which had always been a fun and safe "fallback plan" of the series where you could spend a couple of hours. It was, if possible, even worse than the campaign mode.

The maps were all symmetrical in design, geometric shapes that only served to make the maps 100% balanced for multiplayer games but which in skirmish mode just appeared completely unnatural and were dull as fuck to play on. And of course no base building in skirmish either.

The game took me 1 hour to properly install and get running, I uninstalled it after 2 hours of gameplay. The good thing is that I got it for "free" in my 3 for 2 bundle (with Dead Space 1 and 2), bad thing is that I can't even sell or give away this piece of shit because it is locked to my profile forever. Question is if I could sell this or even give it away with a clear consience, that would be like the Ring.

-1 for the horrible skimish maps

-1 for the awful graphics
-2 Horrible and boring gameplay
-3 No base building
-2 For extremely (even for this series) awful "story" and "acting" in the video sequences
-2 For the Origin always online requirement and locked game account

Final score -1/10,
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"This is the best game in the series and will blow your mind with its new direction which focuses on tactical combat and  tailoring small warbands fighting super tight hotkey battles" - said no one ever. (Playing it will make you want to blow your brains out - so half true I guess).

Games to be played in the series instead, C&C1 and Tiberian Sun. Red Alert 1 and 2. Everything beyond that started to spiral out of control and degrade in quality and art direction, C&C Generals was fairly OK, so was C&C:3.

3 comments:

  1. I think I saw this game in a bargain bin somewhere and thought about picking it up, glad I didn't make that mistake.

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  2. I can recall avoiding this like the plague when it was released, there really is something truly special in EA's ability to completely balls up a very very simple formula for success isn't there.

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  3. Yeah you would think these games made themselves on autopilot, how can you screw up such a simple formula?! I was completely unaware of the release until I saw it in a bargain bin as well, curiosity made me pick it up against my gut feeling that told me something was off by just looking at the cover.

    I read that the ending was a huge disappointment as well, so glad I didn't stick with it for more than I had to.


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