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Hands-On With Command & Conquer 4
by Jeff Gerstmann on
Right-click on bad guys to make them blow up!
I'll spare you the details about how I right-clicked on stuff to watch my units blow it apart. Not that it's not interesting, but look, if you've played a real-time strategy game on the PC before, you already have a pretty good idea about how it controls. The cool stuff about C&C4 is in the way its experience system and leveling will work. While we've previously heard that the experience you'll gain--which is earned both in the campaign and multiplayer matches--I got to see how that translates into units and powers. As you level, you'll gain the ability to purchase additional units and upgrades with points that you'll also earn as you play. The catch is that you won't have enough points to immediately buy every unit as soon as it's available, so you'll have to be smart about it. Furthermore, you can only bring a set number (the final figure is still being determined) of these things into a match.
So if you want to build engineers, which can take over dead husks of defeated vehicles and bring them back into the fight, you'll need to devote a slot to that unit. If you want access to tier III upgrades, you'll need to devote a slot to that, too. On top of that, once you're in-game, you'll need to activate those upgrades to tech up. Experience points and levels are divided by faction, so it's certainly possible to be a high-level GDI player with access to all sorts of crazy stuff without unlocking any of the top-end Nod units, or vice-versa. If you're looking for some sort of comparison point for the C&C4 loadout configuration and upgrade system, it's sort of like they took the persistence and perks concepts from Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and applied it to a real-time strategy game. But rather than simply unlocking most things via general experience points, you'll have to use your in-game currency and be a little choosey with it.
On the battlefield, you'll be able to churn out units using your crawler, but you'll have a population cap to deal with. This system involves command points, and each different unit will increase the number of command points currently in use. Heavier units require more of your points, so a tank, for example, may require five points. When those units meet their maker on the battlefield (or are dismantled), the points are freed up so that you can create some more death-dealing dudes of... death.
But perhaps the most important thing I took away from EA's visit is that the new direction for the game is that the whole thing seems pretty cool. It's making meaningful changes to the stock C&C gameplay, yet it still manages to feel like it belongs in the same universe. It'll have plenty of FMV, and it sounds like most of that has been shot already, though EA's not ready to let anyone actually watch it yet. Since it's supposedly got a more realistically gritty look to its cutscenes, I'm interested in seeing how those come off in the final product. Oh, hey, here are some new screens of the game, too.