I had very high hopes for C&C4 as many a long-term C&C fan did. It was after all the game that was supposed to tie up a 15-year long story arc that had engrossed many millions of players. The game itself is actually of very poor quality - you only need to read the reviews on Amazon. Suffice to say the entire prior fan base has been ignored with changes to the game mechanics that change the very nature of the game to the degree where it ceases to be a C&C game. However the biggest surprise is just how poor it is and how badly designed from the offset.
The game forces you to use a tiny unit-capped army of fewer units even than that you would use in say Company of Heroes (about ten or so), and then designs the game around a number of controllable checkpoints that cannot be held as the player has to go to find more control points to raise their technology level. This creates seemingly endless, monotonous games that are nothing more than constant back-and-forthing between the same points on the map. This is made worse by the fact that there is a requirement to be online and connected to EA's servers the entire duration of your game which includes to save games. As server connections are intermittent this makes for a hugely frustrating series of games where you do the same thing repetitively and then suffer a catastrophic loss of your position because EA's servers have gone down or are suffering from a bad connection. Furthermore EA have discontinued support for a number of games that have only been out for a year or 18 months or so and so there is every reason to believe that once many people have bought this game EA will simply pull the plug on their servers once they become uneconomical at which point we have to assume you will no longer be able to play the game that you purchased.
Little effort has been expended on a single player story - no plot lines have been taken from prior games so there is little continuity and there is an air of 'that'll do' about the sets and acting (apart from Joe Kucan - sublime as always as Kane - his last lines are delivered with pathos and quiet empathy that actually add to the depth of the megolomaniac character). The stories are both not only well below the quality of the admittedly camp but thoroughly enjoyable stories of previous games but both campaigns can be played through in a few hours. The overall impression the player gets is that the single player experience was simply of no interest to the designers.This grates because for 6 months the hype machine has emphasised time and again that this is the 'grand conclusion' to a story arc.
This mindset applies to the game-play and graphics - the machines seem far too large and cartoon-like - far from the hi-res models of earlier games to the degree where you feel that you are playing a beta of a game and that perhaps real unit models will be released later. Combined with the game-play which seems to have been designed to draw out maximum effort and time spent playing from the player for minimal design effort on the part of the design team this reduces the quality of game-play almost to nothing. This is actually a very common multi player design aspect called a time-sink where the player is forced to do repetitive tasks in order to artificially lengthen the playing duration. As annoying as this is in multi player it is dull as dishwater in single player. There simply isn't any fun to be had here.
Some comments suggest that the main target audience of this game is multi-player but this simply isn't the case - this isn't what the publishers have been hyping for months and it is only now that the game has received a drumming that there seems to be a 're-trenchment' to try and re-define the game as being aimed at multi-player. The multi-player experience will be identical to single-player only with even less reason to play. Certainly there are games that do the squad thing 1000% better than C&C4 and the gamer is unlikely to think that sharing a evening going back and forth between the same three checkpoints for an hour constitutes 'fun'.
Finally the gaming community has noticed that there has been from launch a sudden arrival of a number of unusually positive reviews from individuals, often with no history on the site, that radically contrast the vast, vast, vast majority of independent reviews and marks/grades. On each major review website there seems to be one standout extremely positive review usually marking the game at some outrageously high mark such as 10/10 or 100% with glowing recommendations but from only this single reviewer. This seems to suggest a coherent attempt by party or parties unknown globally to 'stem the tide' of the negative response to the game in a very sinister and underhand fashion. This extends as far as Amazon in the UK which censored negative reviews in the first week of the game's launch. Take a look at each major review site and there will be perhaps 100 negative 1/10 reviews yet with one standalone review marking 10/10 and saying it's the greatest game ever. This extremely obvious form of manipulation is extremely underhand and just serves to bring down the reputation of the publisher/developer further.
All in all a tragic end to a classic series that many people have waited literally more than a decade to see the completion of. To be dismissed as merely 'the old guys' and to have this dire quality sub-standard game passed off as a true successor to the C&C franchise is insulting to the loyalty of the previous gamers and the intelligence of the new.
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