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C&C4 - Story + Campaign
August 26, 2009 - 01:27
This is Sam Bass' domain. And its a big thing for me, because one of the reasons I was captured into this series was the storyline, in particular of Tiberian Sun. Sam Bass was the man behind the campaign in Kanes Wrath. And he approached it, not just because the fans wanted a better link between Tiberian Sun and Tiberium Wars, but because he wanted to have it sorted too. And he's trying to bring back aspects of that campaign and improve upon them greatly, something he has been working on since the middle of 2008.

There was not a huge amount revealled about the actual story of the campaign, for the simple reason that Sam preferred us to discover it ourselves when we came to play the game. And to be honest, from all the work that he clearly put in, I think its understandable. He's also the man behind the end of the Kane/Nod/GDI story arc, so he's the man to blame if you don't like it..

The backstory to campaign is that, its 2062 and the world is on the brink of extinction. Sound familiar? Well after Firestorm GDI's sonic/disruptor technology was able to help reclaim the world from Tiberium. However, in C&C3 Kane's liquid tiberium bomb brought the favour back to Tiberium. It caused Tiberium to spread at a larger rate to such an extent that GDI's sonic tech was unable to hold back this new round of tiberium terraforming. Kane, suprisingly, has been presumed dead since the event at Temple Prime, however he has just been immersed in the Tacitus. And with its knowledge, he goes to GDI, with a plan to save the world. Given the dire status of the world, GDI and Nod work together to form the Tiberium Control Network, to globally control Tiberium. I think this would have been a brilliant place to have started the campaign, even if it was just to involve a mission or two. But instead, the campaign starts 15 years later, at the brink of completion of the Tiberium Control Network. Its been an effective cold war between GDI and Nod, with escalation and brinksmanship in weapons and technology. The alliance is starting to fail, and the extremists in both factions are starting to have more effect..

The campaign starts with you playing about 3 missions as GDI, and then you reach a point where you choose to either continue as GDI, or move to the Nod campaign. The GDI and Nod campaigns will run in parallel, and will try to reflect upon the actions you would have done in the other campaign.

The GDI campaign, titled "Killing Kane" is designed to be fast paced, action orientated and accessible for new people to the series, at least, compared to the Nod campaign. It will have a "Powerful" and "Emotionally stunning" conclusion, with a layered narrative throughout, such that there will be a lot of depth for the die-hard fans of the tiberian story arc. The main theme for the campaign will be based on obsessive fanaticism, which although I would have thought that more of a Nod thing, it is a very interesting twist to have it for GDI, to be so blinded by something you believe to be right, only to towards the end realise you could be doing the wrong thing, for all the wrong reasons..

For the Nod campaign, titled "All Things Must End" is more focused on Kane, getting to know who he is, why he's doing what he's doing, his motives, and his intentions. The end result is to try and provide a satisfying conclusion to the tiberian story arc. It will also aim to provide a reflection on the GDI campaign, to ask "were you doing the right thing?", so although I don't think you have to complete the GDI campaign before you can approach the Nod one, I think it would be better to do it in that order.

The way the campaign missions were approached had to be different due to the nature of the new gameplay, ie; the player having freedom to choose where to deploy their crawler, what class to use, in addition to having a personalised tech tree. The missions had to be more freely written. Objectives will be less like "destroy this, then capture this, then destroy this, then retreat to this". The objectives will be more defined, yet open in approach, and with less scripting. The maps will be more open plan, giving good flexibility in how to approach the missions. This flexibility will hopefully give the campaign a boost in replayability, which will be good as there won't be as many missions as found in C&C3. Because of the reduced scripting the AI will be more reactive and adaptable and occasionally tweaked to be mission specific. Additionally, the AI apparently respects fog of war! So won't know exactly what you've got before its seen you.

The campaign can be played alone or in co-op. When playing alone there won't necessarily be an AI to help you, you will in general be alone. When playing in co-op, the missions will be harder to compensate for having two players. Changing the campaign difficulty will influence limits like population caps and crawler respawns; easier difficulties will obviously get more of both, while harder difficulties will severely limit you, forcing stronger strategies and micromanagement of units. It was nice to know that there are campaign limits to respawns, such that missions without timers can be lost.

There won't be any commando style missions, however its probable that there will be missions which involve small task forces, rather than having a base/crawler.

We saw a little involving the cinematics; pictures and walkthroughs of the inside of the GDI Global Stratospheric Transport, in addition to a short FMV. The FMV we got to see wasn't guaranteed ingame, so I won't go into the details of it. What I will say is that it had a darker atmosphere, akin to Tiberian Sun, much to my delight. We did see a few test videos, of FMVs for C&C3 and C&C4, which involved the dev team to demonstrate how they were to work the FMVs. Seeing Chris Corey as Kane was brilliant!

One of the big focus for the cinematics as mentioned by Sam Bass was to have "fully realized sets for a mobilised point of view". In other words, the sets were built to be realistic as possible, not just blue screens. We actually got to see Sam Bass walk through the set, and it was quite incredible. The set was very sci-fi, with similarities to many sci-fi spaceship interiors. The corridor was quite dark and cluttered, leading onto a spartan yet techy bridge. An example of the spartan design would come from the "seat" for Colonel James (a female character, apparently), which is just a bar! GDI like their commanders always at the ready, apparently.. The screens on the bridge were active monitors, with a large glass screen which would project holograms. I loved the design of the set, it felt more immersive than those of C&C3, with a darker atmosphere of Tiberian Sun. And I can never say no to another air/spaceship!

The FMV we got to see revealled a potential character, one who also occasionally popped-up ingame. His appearence ingame came from a small holographic screen effect which was above the UI box in the bottom left of the screen. It was a nice effect. His role seems to be your direct superior, and his general attire suggests he's more political than military. Ingame he would give occasional updates, such as incoming Nod forces, and general orders.

The cast wasn't revealed yet, with the exception of Joe Kucan and an additional actor who portrays the character above, James Horan. He is an actor with many small roles rather than a few larger ones. He has made many appearences in TV across many series (like Star Trek, where I recognised him from) and has done voice work for previous games, including the Battle for Middle Earth series.

Speaking with Peter Larsen, James Horan is a good example of the actors to be used in the FMVs; not huge stars yet recognisable. And to be honest, I'm happy with that, if the acting is good, the immersion ingame will be better. James Horan is a good actor, and not over the top.

To me it is clear that there has been a lot of effort poured into this campaign. Granted, the mission we got to play at CommandCOM wasn't the most riveting mission I've ever done, but from what I've heard of the plans, they are very grand. The campaign looks to be very promising, and refreshing for a C&C campaign. And the story promises to be deep and very well thought out, something which I consider to be very important for the game. I also love the sound of the open-plan co-op campaign missions. I am sure that they will provide many hours of fun with my friends, and hopefully replayable many times and still be interesting and fresh.

Summary:
- Conclusion to the Kane/Nod/GDI story arc.
- Campaign will be more serious with a grittier tone.
- GDI campaign will give a powerful and stunning conclusion.
- Nod campaign will give a satisfying conclusion to Kane.
- The Scrin will return, although unsure when in the Campaign.
- Missions will be less scripted with more openly achieved objectives.
- AI will be reactive and adaptable, even mission specific.
- Less missions in campaign, but with improved replayability.
- No "Optional" support missions as found in Tiberian Sun.
- Crawler respawns will be limited.
- Missions can be played alone or in co-op. If alone, no AI partner, like in RA3.
- GDI FMVs will mostly involve the Global Stratospheric Transport.
- FMVs will be more realistic with mobile filming to give a more immersive perspective.
- Better acting, but with lesser known actors.