When you say Electronic Arts (or refer to one of its subsidiaries) the first thing that comes to mind is the lack of innovation in very know franchises, which spew titles on an yearly basis that are differentiated mostly by the graphics (although Need for Speed SHIFT showed that they can do better, if they really want to). For the series that started in 1995 with Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn, the radical turning point came, ironically enough, with the announcement of Tiberian Twilight, a title which according to the producers would mark the end of this saga in the Tiberium universe.
The story kicks off in 2062, 10 years after the end of the evens depicted in Kane’s Wrath, when the Earth is almost completely covered by the alien mineral known as Tiberium, and humanity’s fate is all but sealed. It’s at this point that Kane, the enigmatic (and supposedly immortal) leader of the Brotherhood of Nod makes another appearance, proposing to the GDI (Global Defense Initiative) council an uneasy alliance to build a Tiberium Control Network (TCN), which would not only save our planet, but turn the dangerous crystal into a cheap and readily available energy source.
However, this alliance is considered an affront by Nod extremists, which being a series of attacks against the TCN nodes as soon as their construction gets off the ground. Because the network was to span the entire globe, GDI commanders were at first helpless to properly respond to this offensive due to a lack of mobility, so drastic measures need to be taken in order to ensure the survival of the human race.
Compared to other Command & Conquer titles, Tiberian Twilight brings important changes in three main directions. First off, the classic Tiberium gathering (with the harvester) is gone, and its purpose changed as well. If until now the green mineral was the equivalent of money, the TCN turned it into a resource for unit upgrades. Therefore, now you will gather individual Tiberium crystals, which can be one of three types. Green = 1 upgrade point. Blue = 2 upgrade points. Red = 5 upgrade points, but the latter are only encountered in the single-player campaign.
Besides this, the crystals have two more uses. On one hand, you can detonate them to cause massive amounts of damage to all the units in the vicinity (own, allied or enemy), while in multiplayer, crystal gathering will contribute to your Victory Point tally.
The second major change is the introduction of the three classes for the two warring factions, GDI and Nod: offensive, defensive and support (the aliens known as the Scrin, featured in Tiberium Wars and Kane's Wrath, are nowhere to be found). Each class is defined by stronger units, the ability to build defensive structures or air units, respectively, and depending on the battlefield situation, the classes can be changed in real-time. Also, the main bases (MCV – Mobile Construction Vehicle) now are truly mobile, being known generically as Crawlers.
These can only land in certain sectors on the battlefield, either predetermined or created by capturing Uplink Towers, and a Crawler’s landing can easily destroy the enemy units in the impact area, much like the drop pods of Dawn of War 2 fame. So once you destroy an enemy Crawler, you best bug out of said respawn areas.
You can choose the Crawler type whenever you want, but the units and buildings specific to the previous one aren’t automatically destroyed, which leads to two things. One, you can create devastating combinations in multiplayer and two, because of the units cap, you can’t enjoy the full potential of your current crawler until you get rid of all the “dead weight”.
The first option is welcomed, especially when the units have plenty of experience (which means increased damage, rate of fire and even self-healing), but this aspect becomes irrelevant if your enemy has the exact counter to match. So it’s best to change the Crawler type just as you’re about to get rid of the existing units – either you sacrifice them or “retire” them using the Del key. Careful though, if the enemy destroys a unit which is about to be retired, he’ll get twice as much XP off it.
Going back and forth, partially or completely, between these two options is necessary due to the imposed unit cap (another first), represented by Command Points (CP). As such, your units or buildings can “cost” 3, 6, 8 or 10 CP (depending on their Tech tier), so if the cap is, say, 50, you’ll most likely end up using only 48 CP, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the 2 left are wasted.
First off, it’s entirely possible that said combination is more effective than the one using all 50 CP. Secondly, there are situations in which you can bypass this limit. For instance, if those 48 CP include 4 engineers (3 CP a pop), you can theoretically capture 4 Avatars, Mammoth Tanks, Mastodons and so on. Meaning a firepower superior to the one “legally” allowed, a trick that can make your life easier.