Electronic Arts recently introduced Command and Conquer 3: Kane's Wraith into the Xbox 360 world. This title had previously been released on the PC as an expansion pack earlier this year, so some marketing guru's probably figured why not give the console gamers a taste as well. For the price of $39.99 in retail, I guess it's not a terrible idea. You'll get more storyline, a few new weapons and scenarios and frankly a better interface system than the original C & C 3:Tiberium Wars. The only problem is trying to convince gamers that buying a stand alone expansion pack on a console system is a good investment. Well, for first time C & C players on the 360 it will be a lot of fun. For those that have played the first one, you'll have quite a few flashbacks from the original game. My first run in with this was going into the basic training mode. It was exactly the same as the original game. I will admit I was taken back a little by that initially and didn't have high expectations from that point forward.
Diehard fans of the C & C series will feel right at home and love this expansion pack as much as they loved the prior version. There is plenty of new gameplay, new video cut scenes, and of course the online multiplayer that was done pretty well the first time around and enjoyed by many. You'll get a Campaign mode, which can be played at 3 difficulty levels and contains 13 various style missions. You'll be playing as the Nod this time around in an effort to re-establish the Nod brotherhood. You'll destroy rogue groups of extremists and activists who have chosen to fight for their own cause at times. There are 9 different factions named within the game, but you only get to play as the Nod throughout the entire Campaign. That was a highly disappointing aspect of the campaign mode. A full featured storyline allowing you to play as any faction would have been great, but would have probably raised the price as well.
You are also treated to a mode called Kane's Challenge. At least this mode allows you to play as all 9 factions. Kane offers up 10 different challenges for you to complete using each of the 9 faction. So when you think about it, you'll have 90 different scenarios to play before completing this game mode. While the scenarios are in essence a deathmatch mode versus the AI, each faction will give you a different variation on how things play out. Honestly, its a fun mode at first but can get a bit on the boring side once you have played through it with one or two factions.
You'll also have a mode called Skirmish to play around with. This mode allows you to put yourself into a battle with up to 3 other AI controlled opponents. Skirmish is basically a training tool you can use to better yourself for online play. You'll be able to choose any of the 9 factions, as well a choose who your opponents are too. You'll also be able to set up the map you prefer to do battle on as well as the type of player personality the AI uses. Those personalities are: Balanced, Rusher, Turtle, Guerilla, and steamroller. Each personality is pretty self explanatory as to what play style they follow. So again, this makes for a great tool to match up against those feisty folks online. You have trouble beating someone that just all out rushes you with everything they got? Then practice against that style of player in skirmish and you'll be good to go in know time.
While C&C has always favored heavily at being so much more playable using a mouse and a keyboard, the Xbox 360 version converts the controls fairly well. At times the system can be a little clunky when trying to use the radial wheel with the right thumbstick and press a button at the same time. But in all honestly the radial wheel menu system works very well. There are a few D-pad menu's to deal with but overall the system works well. With that aside though, the menus are easily accessible and very crisp and clean. Also the cursor movement with use of the analog sticks works very well in the game just as it did with the original C&C: Tiberium wars. I guess the old saying If its not broke, don't fix it. definitely comes into play here.
Most players that play this game will have already rolled through the first release of the series on the 360 and will be familiar with most of the aspect of the game. They'll be the ones to roll online and get to destroying their opponents right away. Online play gives you five modes to choose from: Versus, King of the Hill, Capture and Hold, Capture the Flag, and Seige. Wow, sounds a lot like FPS shooter modes! I played this online with a few friends and in a few random matches and found the online gameplay to be smooth and lag free for the most part. At times the game seemed to bog down a little from mass amounts of action taking place on the screen, but it was very minimal.
Graphically speaking, Kane's Wrath is well done. The menus and navigation systems are easy to use and very clear and accessible. Whether the game is zoomed in or zoomed out, you'll always be treated to some great graphical detail within each map and the character models. At times the camera can be a little clunky and you don't always seem to be able to get the right angle or distance you are looking for on certain battles. But honestly the game does quite well in its presentation. The video cut scenes which have become a trademark of the Command & Conquer series are high quality in video but frankly low budget when it comes to acting skills.
Overall for the price you can't go wrong with this title, especially if you are a fan of the series. If you love real time strategy games, this is just another solid title for you to pick up at a reduced price due to its expansion tag. If you are looking for a much better online experience than Tiberium Wars, then you aren't really going to find that here. Its truly not all that much different online. Bottom line is, fans of the series its a must have, and those that are not can probably just rent it for achievements or just a few online games. Much of the gameplay remains the same from Tiberium Wars with the exception of a new storyline and scenarios.
Suggestions: I would have loved to be able to play as any of the factions involved throughout this story. now the realization that this is only an expansion pack makes me understand why that wasn't the case, but I still would have liked the option. The radial wheel still needs some tweaking but overall its a very good system and works well with the game.