Kane's Wrath is a commendable expansion to an already-impressive game
Given the history of the series, it was always likely that EA would capitalise on the success of last year's Command and Conquer 3 with an expansion pack or two. Kane's Wrath predictably offers more campaign missions, more units and more cheesy video cutscenes. But it's a new game mode that makes it more than the average Command and Conquer add-on.
Kane: gets a bit handsy when he's had a drink.
The Scrin return in Kane's Wrath.
Kane's Wrath is set before, during and after the events of Command and Conquer 3 and is divided into three acts. Act 1 begins following Kane's 'death' at the end of the second Tiberium War and follows his efforts to rebuild the Brotherhood. Act 2 runs parallel to the events of C&C3, as Kane becomes obsessed with the alien artifact, the Tacitus, and Act 3 sees Nod and the GDI battle to control it. The storyline, in accordance with the game's predecessors, is more of the same: garish sci-fi melodrama with deliciously overacted dialogue, shoddy sets and lots of 'now finally our time has arrived' speeches from Kane. Thankfully for those who don't subscribe to the 'so bad they're good' view of the video cutscenes, they can be skipped in favour of the brief text-descriptions before each mission. However, the story has been put together well and fills in many of the gaps between events in C&C3, as well as throwing a different light on some familiar scenarios.
The player takes control of Kane's AI master tactician, Legion, as the bald one hatches a devious plan to create unrest in Earth's cities, destabilising the GDI. The difficulty of the early levels, and the game in general, will take a little getting used to as your bases will almost immediately be threatened by the enemy. Whilst this is in keeping with C&C's status as a fast action strategy game, it feels a little punitive compared to the more forgiving difficulty curve in C&C3. You'll often need to fortify your base pretty quickly to counter the enemy's early attacks, and choosing the right weapons for the task is essential in avoiding some frustrating restarts.
The difficulty issue isn't helped by the fact that Nod is a struggling faction at the start of the game. It lags far behind GDI in terms of technology and its basic units are pretty weak. This means initially having superior numbers is the key to winning battles. Large forces will wear down the enemy's defences, and it's always a good idea to use cheap units as bullet-magnets while the big guns sneak around the back. But as the game progresses, and resources become more scarce, it is important to think about what you're building. Luckily, more options become available as Nod's influence grows and you'll have some powerful tools at your disposal. New infantry units like the devastating Black Hand will come in particularly useful, as will the improved hardware. The gigantic RedeemerVictory can be achieved by military dominance, but each faction also has some alternate victory conditions. vehicle in Act 3 is a particular highlight.
There's an impressive level of detail in the visuals.
Tiberium: Kane's still a big fan.
For the most part, the 13 mission Nod campaign is a difficult but satisfying experience, with the exception of the stealth levels. These are frustrating affairs in which you'll be provided with a handful of units and a lot of objectives, with no base to create any reinforcements. If your units are destroyed, the mission is failed, and it becomes a tedious exercise in trial and error. Thankfully, there aren't many of these missions and most levels will revolve around the classic expand and destroy model. However, it still feels as if the campaign mode has been padded out a little.
The real value of Kane's Wrath lies in the new Total Conquest mode. It's a Risk-style, turn-based struggle as the player aims to claim as much of Earth's territory for their faction as possible. There are no cut scenes on offer here (and no story at all) and yet it doesn't suffer for it. There is more than enough depth in Total Conquest to keep you hooked for hours on end. The player is provided with a number of bases and must build strike forces in order to take new territory. Bases can be upgraded to gain access to better strike force templates, or custom armies can be created to the player's specifications. Once the strike force is created, they can be sent to tear it up with the enemy and this is where Total Conquest mode comes into its own. Battles can be 'auto-resolved' or played in real time classic C&C mode. Auto battles play out logically according to how your units compare to the enemy's. If you send a force with no anti-air weapons in against an army with strong air attacks, then you're not going to win. Those who take the time to tailor their assault based on their enemy's weaknesses will advance quickly.
The real-time battles allow the player to do more with less. Shrewd tactics can preserve resources, which will become vital as Total Conquest progresses. It can become incredibly time-consuming (as every good strategy game should) but it's more than just a distraction from the campaign mode and feels like a game in its own right. Games will last for hours, even if you choose to auto-resolve all the conficts. Victory can be achieved by military dominance, but each faction also has some alternate victory conditions. Perhaps EA are testing the waters for Total Conquest mode with the hardcore C&C community by including it in an expansion pack, but it's a fantastic addition to the series.
The GDI's new Slingshot AA vehicle. You're gonna want to avoid them.
Strong base defences are essential.
Kane's Wrath is a commendable expansion to an already impressive game. It's not without its problems: the intimidating difficulty curve, lengthy load-times and choppy framerate (when things get hectic) may cause some to dismiss it but those who stick with it will enjoy what's on offer. It's almost worth buying for Total Conquest mode alone, and so we can only hope that EA choose to develop it for future titles in the s
COMMAND & CONQUER 3: KANE'S WRATH VERDICT
TOP GAME MOMENT
Turning GDI forces against eachother with the Redeemer’s Rage Generator.