Another level was demonstrated, this time an outdoor urban environment with destroyed buildings, chunks of concrete and metal debris littering roads. The main character of Ricardo Vega was backed up by a squad of soldiers, and reinforced by a large Titan mech, gently lowered into the battlefield by a GDI dropship. The display in the bottom left-hand corner of the HUD now showed that two out of four squads were available, and after a quick tap of the relevant button, the robot hulk blurted “Executing order!” and stomped off down the street looking for things to kill.

A Scrin contingent was dug in around the corner, so the other squad of soldiers was pointed in the direction of the enemies, while Vega himself jetpacked onto a nearby roof. From here, the Forward Commander had a better view of the action (an example of tactical choices during the game) and watched as the mech and soldiers dispatched the Scrin, while he picked off individual enemies from above. After the battle, Vega jumped down and with the aid of his teams, captured a nearby tiberium deposit indicated by an impressive tiberium spike being lowered into the glowing fissure. A third squad - a missile team - was then ordered, who joined the action thanks to a dropship, just as a swarm of Scrin aerial drones swooped overhead, blasting a couple of the GDI grunts. The missile team began rocketing the enemies above their heads without any prompting, as Vega sent the mech ahead to mop up any ground-based resistance.

A real-time map was then brought up on-screen, showing all the units and major strategic points in the area. From here, you can order a squad to protect a tiberium spike, ask for reinforcements or just check out the battle - all done with one button press, and no RTS frippery. “The map actually started out in the prototypes as grid-based,” says Plummer, his face lit by the on-screen mayhem. “There was a great deal of experimentation and part of the thinking there was that it might be easier under the gun if you had a grid for placing squads. However, freeform squad control works great in first-person, so why not use that control on the 2D map?”