Nothing New Under
the Tiberian Sun
After the more experimental Command & Conquer Generals, EA brought their flagship real-time strategy series back to its roots with Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars, featuring classic C&C gameplay, campy live-action cutscenes, and everyone’s favorite cult leader, Kane. It was a smashing success, proving that a shiny new coat of paint can be enough to sell an otherwise nostalgic title without a lot of new ideas. Now, in the grand C&C tradition, it’s time to revisit last year’s game with a new expansion pack.
If there was any flaw with Tiberium Wars, it was a fundamental lack of anything exciting and new. A new race, the alien Scrin, helped to mix things up a bit, but by and large it was the same game we’ve been playing for more than a decade. This can be either a problem or an opportunity for an expansion pack, and Kane’s Wrath toes the line, offering more of the same and something a little different.
The backbone of the package is still the single-player campaign, complete with a new storyline spanning decades that really helps to flesh out the C&C timeline. There are the usual cheesy movie sequences and overacting, though the story itself is a little disjointed thanks to the epic span of the timeline. You’ll play through the usual mission types, with escorts, infiltrations, but mostly a lot of turtling up and steamrolling your opponents. It’s as fun as it ever was, but it all feels very familiar. C&C3 felt like a homecoming, but the Kane’s Wrath campaign reminds us why we left home to begin with.
There isn’t much of it either. Where Tiberium Wars offered three campaigns, totaling 35 missions, this expansion offers only 13, and only follows the Brotherhood of Nod. Sorry, GDI fans, you’ll have to sit the single-player mode out this time. It seems especially egregious that EA didn’t include the Scrin, since their brief four-mission left us hungry for more.
Luckily, Kane’s Wrath offers more than just the paltry single-player mode. This time, you’ll have the option to play as three different variants of each side, making for a total of nine choices. Each of the six new factions features new units and abilities that give them unique advantages and disadvantages. These factions come into play as opponents during the single-player mode, but they really add something new for devoted multiplayer fans to explore.
The biggest new addition, however, is a completely new “Global Conquest” mode. This is something fresh for C&C fans, inspired by new-school RTS games like Dawn of War. This moves the view out to a world map and allows you to command your troops in a Risk-style, turn-based game of world domination. When you attack an enemy unit, victory can be decided either automatically or by a classic RTS battle. These battles are faster paced and more offensive than what C&C players are used to in multi-player, so even combat has a different feel.
Players can win by dominating completely, or by satisfying faction-specific alternate victory conditions. For instance, GDI can win by taking 33% of the globe’s territory, and the Scrin can win by constructing nine Threshold Towers. This forces players to pay attention to their enemy progress as well as offensive advances. Global Conquest really is something completely different and, while its appeal is limited for solo play, it’s a great way for multiplayer fans to exercise a different part of their brain and get away from the usual milking resources and pumping out units, moving closer to “tactical” RTS games.
Ultimately, Kane’s Wrath takes some risks and offers a diverse expansion with something for everyone. A quality campaign of familiar missions will please purists, while new factions give multi-player enthusiasts plenty new to play with. Global Conquest steals the show with a compelling answer to accusations that the series has gone stale. Unfortunately, there might not be enough of any one thing to really satisfy casual fans and justify the asking price. Devoted purists will get their money’s worth, but those just interested in a new set of missions might be let down when they burn through the campaign quickly. With Red Alert 3 just around the corner, those less loyal to the Brotherhood of Nod may just want to sit this one out.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.0 Graphics
Like Tiberian Sun, Kane’s Wrath is gorgeous and packed with detail, while maintaining smooth performance. 4.0 Control
If you’ve played C&C (or any traditional RTS), you should feel right at home. 3.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
A melodramatic and epic score lend a cinematic feel, but won’t stick in your head. 3.0 Play Value
There is an interesting assortment of new content here, but the slim single-player campaign is disappointing. 3.5 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.