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 Command & Conquer 4 Preview

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MesajSubiect: Command & Conquer 4 Preview   Command & Conquer 4 Preview Icon_minitimeSam Feb 20, 2010 8:06 pm

Command & Conquer 4 Preview

Big changes in EA's big real-time strategy franchise.


February 19, 2010 -
It was only recently that I got some time with EA LA's [Trebuie sa fiti inscris si conectat pentru a vedea acest link]
-- and man, what a difference from previous franchise entries. I know
that impression may be old news to anyone that's been playing the
multiplayer beta, but for anyone who hasn't been following along, you
should know this is not the C&C you remember. Quite a few elements
are carried over for continuity -- you can still build Mammoth tanks as
GDI forces and the Nod armies still use obelisk point defenses -- but
many of the mechanics have been streamlined. I'm still not quite sure
how to feel about it, but read on if you're curious about how things
have been adjusted.


One of the biggest changes to the franchise is that resource
gathering has been completely reworked. You no longer build harvesters
to mine Tiberium fields to fuel your economy, which is a little odd to
say the least for a C&C game. Your primary base is also mobile and
capable of rapidly deploying and packing back up to move along with
your forces. While on the move, you can still issue build commands to
your base, which then spits all the constructed units out once it
unpacks at a location.


Like Command & Conquer games past, the pace here is quick, with
short build times and speedy unit movement. It won't be long into a
game until you've hit the unit cap, so the challenge of the game seems
to be less about how fast you can get your economy up and running and
more about the composition of your forces. To research upgrades for
your units, you'll find crystals scattered around maps that can be
picked up for unlocks -- a system adapted for the pared down economy.


[Trebuie sa fiti înscris şi conectat pentru a vedea această imagine]This isn't going to be the C&C you remember.

Before
diving into a fight, you'll also need to select a class. By selecting
GDI, you'll see three are available. If you choose the offensive class
you'll get a wide array of land units and associated upgrades. For the
defense class, you'll get units, upgrades, and the ability to set up a
number of turret structures on the field of play. Then there's the
support class, the only one with flying units (and a flying base),
which gets a range of special abilities that can be called down on the
battlefield along with its class-specific units and upgrades. If you
find a particular class isn't suited for the situation while in the
middle of a battle, you can simply delete your main structure and
select a new class.


In the single-player game, which is what I was playing, class
switching is allowed only a limited number of times, so you need to be
more careful as objectives switch up on the fly. Of the few missions I
played on the GDI side, my tasks included escorting VIPs, wiping out
enemy installations, and protecting convoys as they drove through enemy
territory. Though I didn't get a chance to see it, these missions are
also available in cooperative play, which should be interesting as
players try to balance class selection with the needs of the mission.


To get some more detail on how Command & Conquer 4 was
developed, I had the opportunity to talk with lead designer Sam Bass.
"We didn't want to just do a higher res C&C3 and trot out Kane
again and be like 'Look! Kane! Scary!' because really, C&C3 isn't
that old. With C&C4 we wanted to do something different, to evolve
the genre beyond what it currently is. RTS in general had become very
fast-paced, micro-oriented gameplay. We still have that, but we wanted
to open it up to more players, to open it up to people who weren't
entirely confident being on the front lines or people like me."


"I'm a turtle, I've always been a turtle, and being a turtle has
become [an invalid] strategy in the last couple of years. How do you
make turtling valid? We came up with some objective-based multiplayer,
which was the start of the game. It is quite different."


As you continue to play the game with the class types, you'll also
earn progressive unlocks across the campaign, skirmish, and multiplayer
modes. These unlocks are global, so regardless of which mode you're
playing in, you'll be unlocking more units, tech, and structures for
use across any mode. "We want to give you as much tactical flexibility
as possible," said Bass. "You play how you want to play. There is no
critical path to winning. In previous games it was all about build
order, so you can lose the game before knowing you've lost. Here we
wanted to let people experiment and feel comfortable with experimenting
without guaranteeing that they fail."


[Trebuie sa fiti înscris şi conectat pentru a vedea această imagine]Pick a class and snag unlocks while playing in every game mode.

"In
multiplayer," Bass continued, "you don't have a limited number of
respawns, there's just a time delay and then you get right back into
the match. So you don't have that problem that we've found where you're
playing a game with a bunch of friends and you die and then you have to
sit around for 20 minutes while your friends continue to play. You can
get right back in there."


It was tough for me to get a sense of it because I didn't play the
campaign missions for very long, but Bass talked about how the missions
tend to be more dynamic than what's been in past C&C games. "You
start out the campaign and it's still quite scripted. As it evolves you
wind up in these open kinds of environments with AI entities put on
your side and on the enemy side. It becomes very flexible in terms of
how you approach it because the enemy isn't dependent on you hitting
point X for thing Y to happen. It reacts to how you play. To borrow a
term from another developer, [we made] possibility spaces where you go
in with whatever you've got and the game works with that to create an
entertaining experience. We've taken the power out of the hands of the
design group and into the hands of the player. Whatever you want to do,
we accommodate that."


I'm told the campaign is not only more adaptive, but also built so
more players will actually get to the end. "C&C3 had too many
missions, to the point where only five percent of our audience finished
the game. Here we have less missions but they have more depth and
replayability. We don't want [players] to feel like it's a slog or a
grind, we want it to be entertaining all the way through."


Bass also commented on whether this game might make its way to
consoles, as have a number of other Command & Conquer titles.
"C&C's always kind of been a PC franchise. RTS has always been at
its strongest with a keyboard and mouse, at least this form of RTS, so
we wanted this to be a PC game. Also, to be entirely honest, the amount
of content in this game would be really hard to squeeze into a console.
We wanted to focus on making the best PC game instead and not try to
limit ourselves to squeeze it into a 360."


How will all the changes ultimately hold up? We'll all be able to give it a try when the game is released this March.

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