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Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight: The Story So Far

We both command AND conquer our way through the first few single-player missions in C&C4.


 Command!
For a series that, almost from the start, has traded in various currencies of kitsch and nostalgia--be it the corny B-movie vibe of C&C's trademark FMV cutscenes or the relatively strict adherence to RTS traditionalism-- Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight potentially represents the most significant departure the series has seen since Command & Conquer: Generals. The gameplay virtually abandons the entrenched base-building that all but defined the early days of the RTS genre, aiming for an experience that sacrifices scale and complex economic sub-systems for something faster and more focused, though without cribbing directly from Relic's progressive take on the genre. Jeff detailed the gameplay systems of C&C4 pretty well in our last look at the game, so I'll skip the nuts and bolts this time and focus on the part that, quite honestly, interests me the most: the fiction.
 
So, just what's going on in the world of Command & Conquer these days? Well, as per usual, the Global Defense Initiative and the Brotherhood of Nod are still at each other's throats, though the most significant threat to the world now comes from tiberium, that jade crystalline element of extraterrestrial element that has proven ever so useful to the various military-industrial complexes of the C&C universe. While control of the world's tiberium supply led to the initial conflict in the first C&C, it now spreads at such a speed that it's threatening the consume the whole planet. Unsurprisingly, Nod's unkillable, enigmatic leader Kane has developed technology to control and harvest the energy from the tiberium, making him an unlikely savior of the human race. Of course, there's a twist (there always is) and this time Kane will need to team up with GDI in order to realize his plan. It's obviously an uneasy alliance, and as a GDI commander, you're given great reason to believe that Kane's not being entirely forthcoming about his motivations early on. Of course, just because Kane is all buddy-buddy with GDI now doesn't mean there's no Nod forces to worry about. There's now a hardline Nod splinter group led by a character named Gideon that feels Kane has gone soft, and is picking up the slack on the whole global terrorism front.
 
 Conquer!
Tonally, C&C has been all over the map over the past 15 years. It can be hard to identify through the gossamer haze of a decade-and-a-half of warm nostalgia, but there was a certain black-and-white action-movie self-seriousness to the early games that eventually gave way to high camp with the Red Alert games, and there was plenty of nudging and winking in C&C3 as well. That all ends with C&C4, which seems to take itself even more seriously than the original, giving the game's end-of-days setup a little extra weight by making it personal. Rather than just playing as some abstract commander, you'll play as a character with meaningful ties to the world--ties that are violently severed early on, presumably to give the player a little extra stake in how the story plays out.
 
This humanizing of C&C4 extends to cutscenes, which no longer just play from a static perspective, instead moving around the environment. It's a subtle touch, but more significant is the decision to cast the game largely with unknowns, an about-face from the goofy geek-friendly celebrities that populated the past few C&C games. Aside from Joe Kucan reprising his role as Kane, I didn't recognize any of the other faces that popped up, though a cursory IMDb search confirmed that they were, by and large, professional actors.
 
Whether C&C4 will actually achieve the tone its looking for remains to be seen. What I saw seemed fairly restrained, at least as restrained as you can be when evil alien minerals are key to your plot. Then again, failing to achieve a serious tone might just be the best thing for C&C4--after all, C&C was arguably at its best when it didn't even know it was funny. Either way, I'll be incredibly curious to see how people will respond to the sweeping changes being made to C&C4 when it hits next month.
 
26 Comments
Posted by Ryan

 Command!
For a series that, almost from the start, has traded in various currencies of kitsch and nostalgia--be it the corny B-movie vibe of C&C's trademark FMV cutscenes or the relatively strict adherence to RTS traditionalism-- Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight potentially represents the most significant departure the series has seen since Command & Conquer: Generals. The gameplay virtually abandons the entrenched base-building that all but defined the early days of the RTS genre, aiming for an experience that sacrifices scale and complex economic sub-systems for something faster and more focused, though without cribbing directly from Relic's progressive take on the genre. Jeff detailed the gameplay systems of C&C4 pretty well in our last look at the game, so I'll skip the nuts and bolts this time and focus on the part that, quite honestly, interests me the most: the fiction.
 
So, just what's going on in the world of Command & Conquer these days? Well, as per usual, the Global Defense Initiative and the Brotherhood of Nod are still at each other's throats, though the most significant threat to the world now comes from tiberium, that jade crystalline element of extraterrestrial element that has proven ever so useful to the various military-industrial complexes of the C&C universe. While control of the world's tiberium supply led to the initial conflict in the first C&C, it now spreads at such a speed that it's threatening the consume the whole planet. Unsurprisingly, Nod's unkillable, enigmatic leader Kane has developed technology to control and harvest the energy from the tiberium, making him an unlikely savior of the human race. Of course, there's a twist (there always is) and this time Kane will need to team up with GDI in order to realize his plan. It's obviously an uneasy alliance, and as a GDI commander, you're given great reason to believe that Kane's not being entirely forthcoming about his motivations early on. Of course, just because Kane is all buddy-buddy with GDI now doesn't mean there's no Nod forces to worry about. There's now a hardline Nod splinter group led by a character named Gideon that feels Kane has gone soft, and is picking up the slack on the whole global terrorism front.
 
 Conquer!
Tonally, C&C has been all over the map over the past 15 years. It can be hard to identify through the gossamer haze of a decade-and-a-half of warm nostalgia, but there was a certain black-and-white action-movie self-seriousness to the early games that eventually gave way to high camp with the Red Alert games, and there was plenty of nudging and winking in C&C3 as well. That all ends with C&C4, which seems to take itself even more seriously than the original, giving the game's end-of-days setup a little extra weight by making it personal. Rather than just playing as some abstract commander, you'll play as a character with meaningful ties to the world--ties that are violently severed early on, presumably to give the player a little extra stake in how the story plays out.
 
This humanizing of C&C4 extends to cutscenes, which no longer just play from a static perspective, instead moving around the environment. It's a subtle touch, but more significant is the decision to cast the game largely with unknowns, an about-face from the goofy geek-friendly celebrities that populated the past few C&C games. Aside from Joe Kucan reprising his role as Kane, I didn't recognize any of the other faces that popped up, though a cursory IMDb search confirmed that they were, by and large, professional actors.
 
Whether C&C4 will actually achieve the tone its looking for remains to be seen. What I saw seemed fairly restrained, at least as restrained as you can be when evil alien minerals are key to your plot. Then again, failing to achieve a serious tone might just be the best thing for C&C4--after all, C&C was arguably at its best when it didn't even know it was funny. Either way, I'll be incredibly curious to see how people will respond to the sweeping changes being made to C&C4 when it hits next month.
 
Staff
Posted by Captain_Insano

Kane goodness

Posted by S0ndor

Hmm interesting, I too am one of those people who only cares about the plot at this point.

Posted by pause422

Nothing I have seen from C&C4 unfortunately, looks the least bit interesting to me.

Posted by DRE7777

I could care less now that the Starcraft II beta is out and about.

Posted by Crono

Yeah, I feel like the C&C franchise is just sort of beating a dead horse anymore.  I used to absolutely love this series, especially the red alert series... but anymore I just don't get anything out of C&C.  Looks like most feel similar.

Posted by MajorToms
@Crono:  yep
Posted by Tennmuerti

I'm a long time C&C fan (since the first one). This last installment is not a C&C anymore game play wise.
I just want to know the story and the ending, that's it. Otherwise not even remotely interested in it.

Online
Posted by onimonkii

i think one of the downfalls of a storyline you don't really take so seriously is, i don't really give a shit how it ends, i just wanted more command and conquer.
 
they could have wrapped that in whatever they wanted and thrown kane in it, but that's not really the case anymore. and i don't think i want to play a different game with c&c's story, it's not really that strong with me.
 
i hope next they make another generals game or something, since they're finishing this main series off.

Posted by Jimbo

"Then again, failing to achieve a serious tone might just be the best thing for C&C4--after all, C&C was arguably at its best when it didn't even know it was funny."
 
Agreed, they traded 'a bit hammy' for 'camper than a row of tents' somewhere along the line (Red Alert 2).  
 
Unfortunately, the second best thing about the early C&C games - after the hammy cutscenes - was setting up awesome base defences and watching the enemy AI keep walking into flame towers and tesla coils and so on.

Posted by MEBs

As a C&C fan from the start, the only thing I care about is the fiction. The gameplay has yet to impress me.

Posted by Jeffk38uk

Oddly, C&C is prob one of the few games I eagerly anticipate mainly for its story. So seeing EA take C&C4's cinematics on a more serious direction certainly makes for an interesting direction for the better. As for the gameplay, I seem to be of the vocal minority who is intrigued by this DOW2'esc direction they are going for.

Posted by JoeH

i think the devs think the story of CnC is better than they think... the gameplay was what was unique, not their generic scifi plot....

Posted by woltkezero

Yup this is my last purchase from the CNC universe, well if their is an expansion I might give in and buy it too. 
 
I own Star Craft 1 and plan on puchasing the Trilogy of Star Craft 2... and thats it no more RTS for me. 
 
Just getting to old for all these games...
Posted by Jeffk38uk
@woltkezero: You're never too old to play all these games, heh.
Posted by Milkman

I really can't bring myself to get behind this game at all.

Posted by Detrian

Man what's up with the fucking terrible writing in all these comments? Whatever. I have played c&c since I was a wee lad and I'm going to finish this shit just for the story.

Posted by Defunctfrenzy

I almost want to see an endurance run of the entire C & C story so far, but lets be honest, that would be kinda boring...

Posted by woltkezero
@Detrian said:
"Man what's up with the fucking terrible writing in all these comments? Whatever. I have played c&c since I was a wee lad and I'm going to finish this shit just for the story. "

:-)
Posted by Phantom_Crash

Im not keen on the new style where I can't build a big base. It seems like Dawn of War 2 in some ways. Ill buy it aslong as it does not feel like Red Alert 3, I just did not like it one bit.

Posted by lhaymehr

Holy shit a PC exclusive.

Posted by WinterSnowblind

Been playing the Beta, and really despise the game.  I'm quite sure they've mixed up the code with the Dawn of War II guys.  Looks, feels and plays nothing like a C&C game..  Not very fond of the social aspects being forced down your throat and the lack of lan play killed my last shred of interest in the game.  Nothing wrong with change, of course, but this is an example of how it shouldn't be done.
 
I guess if you're really into the story, it might be worth it for that..  But even if this weren't the last part, this one is going to kill the series. 

Posted by mr_shoeless

The changes to C&C4 seem interesting, but they probably should have just started a new series if they are going to do that. When people buy a game called "Command & Conquer", they are expecting it to play like previous C&C games. Since this is the last one in the main series, it shouldn't depart so radically from the previous games.

Posted by phatfish

Since when is there dodgy music in the background of interviews? Sounds like someone is playing a strange MC Hammer remix. Or maybe its just what the guys at EA listen to!

Posted by Funkydupe

It's sad that I care so little about C&C4 news. I know very little about this coming game, but I hope it manages to restore some success in the franchise.

Posted by MrKlorox

I totally watched this just to use the old video player. To say 'goodbye, duder' one last time.