Command and Conquer 3: Kane’s Wrath (360)

Review – Command and Conquer 3: Kane’s Wrath (360)

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RTS

C&C Munitions Factory. Everybody dance now!

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Colin

Expansion packs have been around since the dawn of time (the New Testament was just released to placate those jonzing for something else after the Old Testament) and effectively are the same thing as before but with a few extras thrown in. The idea of getting an add-on to a fave game before a proper sequel is made (and at a reduced price) is an appealing one to most. Is this expansion pack to Command and Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars worth the effort on consoles? Or should expansion packs just stay with the PC gaming elite?

Command and Conquer 3: Kane’s Wrath (lets just go with KW) is the sequel to last years Tiberium Wars (TW). Rather than picking up where the titular Kane left things in TW, KW instead tells a selection of “acts” focusing on time before and during the Third Tiberium War (CnC3). So effectively you only play as the army of NOD (the good or bad guys depending on how you look at it) from Kane’s perspective through the dozen or so story missions.

Mouse envy in action.

Mouse envy in action.

So the game sets you off on story mode – each mission starting off with the now familiar Full Motion Video and somewhat hammy acting (in the best possible way). The talent in this game has Carl Lumbly (the excellent Marcus Dixon from Alias) and Natasha Henstridge (the om nom nom nom chick from Species). Compared to TW the casting is somewhat sparse in the numbers of characters and in the acting quality… well the 2 cut-scenes Mr Lumbly is in are great but Ms Henstridge (who is in the majority of the game) is pretty unconvincing as an attractive lady let alone an eeeeevil megalomaniac. It’s not a petty thing to whine about seeing how much I love the CnC acting as it generally sets the scene well, quite frankly I didn’t really enjoy the cut-scenes in the game. Joe D Kucan (as Kane) is however as brilliant as ever.

Missions start generally in one of 3 ways. (1) You have a set number of units (and wont get any more) with which to complete your mission. (2) You have to build your base from scratch and complete your mission. (3) You start off in a constructed base and you have to complete your mission. In scenario (1) there is normally only one specific way to complete the level, but with (2) and (3) you can play the level as you like – massive base – tank rushing – playing stealthy, with plenty of options you can complete levels as you like. Unlike TW, KW generally focuses on type (2) and (3) so all the missions felt kind of samey – enjoyable to play, but samey – not just this but it seems the difficulty level has been severely lowered. While playing as Nod (Tiberium loving fanatics – stealthy like) you will face off against either the GDI (All Americn soldier types – big firepower), the Scrin (alien invaders – horribly over balanced) or other Nod armies.

Fuck that. Just give me a Tesla Coil and three Prism Tanks and Ill secure Europe for you.

Fuck that. Just give me a Tesla Coil and three Prism Tanks and I'll secure Europe for you.

In addition to the occasional new tank or trooper, each army now has an epic unit. These are big badass vehicles (one per army) and they can be garrisoned with a few infantry units to provide various effects i.e. a squad of engineers for self repair. The fact you can only build one of these units at a time means that each army can never become so over powered and it still keeps things fair. These new epic units were really enjoyable to save up for and purchase.

What makes KW a bit different is the addition of the different factions. Each of the 3 armies have 2 sub factions which will do things a little differently than the main army – one may rely on stealth more, another relying on heavy firepower, while another may rely on teleportation technology. So each faction will have some different vehicles and upgrades than its parent army. In story mode you only get to play as Nod (and its sub factions) so you have to go to Skirmish or Challenge mode to get a feel for the others. Command and Conquer Generals: Zero Hour expansion pack did something similar to this faction idea and unfortunately Zero Hour (one of the poorer CnC expansion packs) did it better, here the factions just don’t feel different enough from their parent army, a bit different yeah, but it could have been much more.

EDF!  EDF!!

EDF! EDF!!

In addition to the story mode there is the standard Skirmish mode – pick an army, some opponents, choose money etc and have at till only one side remains. The new feature to the game is Kane’s Challenge – you pick one of the 9 factions and play through 9 individual skirmishes and a map the game has chosen. Now that I think about it…I realise that it’s effectively just Skirmish mode which is a bit shit. However unlike the PC version of this expansion pack there is no Conquest mode to be found. I can say I’m really fussed as I dint really enjoy the similar mode that was in Universe at War, I’m instead a bit pissed off that once again console owners are being treated second best, added to delayed release dates, costlier games, etc etc etc.

Kudos most definitely has to go to mentioning the new control ring interface. A new control scheme has been implemented in this game to allow the most efficient system for managing build queues that utilises the dual analogue sticks, I doubt that the PC gamers would have much care for it, but never before has it been so easy to actually do what you want to do in a console RTS. Well done chaps.

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Tiq

Secondary Review

I’ve been a huge fan of the Command and Conquer series for years, ever since I played the first Red Alert game back in the day, and was massively excited about C&C 3 when it was announced. Even though I really enjoyed it from start to finish, something felt missing, the old B movie-esque charm of the C&C series just wasn’t quite there and I’m glad to say that Kane’s Wrath seems to have picked up on that.

The dialogue and cut-scenes still have that big budget EA look to them, but overall it feels more like those old C&C games I played when I was a lad, with the cheesy dialog and over the top characters and if they can keep this up, then it bodes well for the series’ future .

The control scheme has been improved immensely as well, making it much easier to cycle through different production queues, which makes for an overall better game. The new epic units pack a punch and look stylish as hell. As do all the other new units included.

This is Command and Conquer at its best, with the volume turned up to eleven.

Definitely worth the money

Secondary Score: 9/10

I did enjoy this game as it filled a CnC shaped void which I needed but at the same time I was hoping for a little bit more. My main gripe would have to be how you only play story mode from the Nod side of things – yes I know the game is called Kane’s Wrath but by the end of it I was getting a bit sick fed up playing as the Nod army – its just not the same unless you can see the story from both (or three) sides. There’s also a few more silly things, like not getting a tech/research tree in the instruction manual that annoy me a bit, I’m obviously just missing my PC gaming days.

I was quite happy to pay 27 quid for this game (although I did see it online for £22 – but was too impatient to wait). I know that I will go back to the game in a few months and complete Kane’s Challenge with a few more of the factions and rinse a few more achievements from the game but as expansion packs go this is fairly light which is the best we are going to get on a console. If you completed and enjoyed TW and want more, then give this a go but if you do feel like giving the series a bash on the x360 I would have to instead recommend Tiberium Wars over this, if only for the superior and more enjoyable story experience (and acting), varied missions and story mode with 3 separate armies. The prophet requests that you do this for him… hop to it then!

Rating: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆ 6/10

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