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Command & Conquer: Kane's Wrath (PC)

Reviewed by: james2006 Global Trader - willing to trade internationally Has Written 43 Reviews Ireland
Reviewed on: 5-Sep-2008


Those that have followed the series know who Kane is. He is the dog muck on the bottom of your shoe! No matter how many times you rub him out, he just keeps sticking. That little bit hiding in your tread. Ever since the beginning, two things have carried through all the titles, Kane and Tiberium. I suppose you could argue a few other things, but I think Kane is at the forefront of gamers’ minds when they think Command & Conquer.

To those that haven’t followed the series, Kane is the bad guy! He is the dog muck on the bottom of your shoe! No matter how...

In this the 1st episode of the “Tiberium Wars” story, we find NOD defeated and shattered. And if you have played Tiberium Wars, this will come as a little bit of a shock. That’s mainly due to the fact that the story doesn’t start from the end of the last game, but from the ending of Tiberium Sun. Set in three Acts, the first mainly being Tiberium Sun, the next is similar to Tiberium Wars, and the third act is onwards. Anyhow, Kane is still alive, and fair to say a little pissed off. He sets about rebuilding his army and once again tries to claim the world for himself. The story is brilliant, and being NOD means that it can get real nasty and back stabby at times. Yet I still feel it will be a hard feat to keep all but the most fanatical C&C enthusiast to the end. The cut scenes can be a little distracting, with Natasha Henstridge, and her cleavage, handing out your orders.

This time it’s different though! Honest, GDI have become complacent, and lazy. The first few missions start off catching the good guys unaware. But this line in the story, for my liking, runs on for much longer than it should. This time around you are only given the option of playing the NOD campaigns. In all honesty this makes more sense, as few people play both sides, and rarely all the way to the end! Plus there is also a new gameplay mode, which is good fun, even if it does play a little like Risk, but more on that later.

So what hasn’t changed? Well we still have the skirmish, and all three races are playable, the third being the Scrin. That’s the Alien race, which joined us in Tiberium Wars. All the movies and cut scenes are still in HD, and the acting is still exceptional. But then again, these actors are all casted from the current great Sci-Fi programs on TV. Finally, and probably the kicker, is that it feels like the same old game!

But between you and me, the worst thing about this game (and not its fault!), is the zoom on the camera controls, or more to the point, the lack of zooming range! It’s a little thing, but since Supreme Commander and Sins of a Solar Empire, it just feels like something is missing in this game. I constantly reach for the scroll button, only to be reminded this is the only view, except for a close up. Granted it’s not bad, however, at times it can make things a little awkward. Especially if there are lots of units and you need to select them in a hurry!

However, this is not to say, that the game is still without flaws. And by flaws, I mean the rubbish AI you play against. While at times the AI can be challenging, and by challenging I mean it throws everything it has at you, it soon becomes apparent that the AI is only going to attack you from one side. This means that after quick study, it is easy to counter the computer and defend. Does this make it a flaw? Yes and no. Yes, because there is no real variation in the computer, it’s only reacting or pre-planned. And no, because it’s kind of cheating really, if we all had hindsight, imagine all the mistakes we could erase from our own lives!

What is worse, once you have this hindsight, you can easily defeat the level’s army in record time. Many times, I’ve been able to rush production of troops, bombard, and overwhelm them. So again is that a flaw?

Then there is the difficultly settings. For the people used to this title, normal is not really a challenge. And even the hardest difficultly is not very challenging either. On the highest difficulty setting, the general AI tactic is to constantly send out waves, and generally from the same direction. This means, the challenge is in setting up a defensive line quickly. Once you have a line of turrets, it's back to the same old turtling and setting up your attack squad. I can’t believe in this day and age AI’s can’t do simple little things to make themselves look smarter!

Personally I don’t know about you, but I am getting tired of C&C. Perhaps the whole series needs to be dropped and revamped. There doesn’t seem to be much range in the old girl any more. And because you are playing NOD, most of the maps will be mission running, broken up by Base building.

Also, the two tier missions are extremely annoying. The one where you have to capture a building, when completed, you are ordered to protect it. For example, I completely annihilate a base, and lose a few units on the way. After destroying every unit on the map, I surround the building, and then gently let my saboteur stroll up and capture it. But oh no, suddenly the enemy has appeared and now I have to protect this building. Only my stealth tanks have all been destroyed (Oh and stealth tanks, don’t get me started on how useless they are!). So while the gunships come in unchallenged, my ground units stand idly as I lose the mission.

I can hear the cynical of you shout, "Well that’s bad micro management and tactics." Well yes and no, because the first time it happens, I hold my hands up, my fault. But after that, this type of scenario happens all too often. Which means it soon becomes apparent that if you have to capture a building, you are going to have to protect it from attack. In the end you over produce units, placing them all over the map, with the knowledge you have the units nearby to deal with the invaders. This quickly becomes tiresome, as expecting the expected takes out the fun!

The sound is good, and does its job more than adequately, but for these games is a bit of a double edge sword. Firstly, the music in the background should never be heard. If it's playing and you are listening to it, then you're not concentrating hard enough. After completing the whole game, I still had no idea what the music sounded like, but rest assured it's there somewhere. Secondly, some sounds are so annoying, that after awhile to wish not to hear them. For example, when a squad of rocket launchers have been built, they pipe up “We Got the Rockets!” Now say that you want to create lots of squads, every two to three seconds, you are reminded that someone has the rockets. While still annoying, the fact also remains that if you are listening to it, you're still not concentrating hard enough! Still, launching and watching a nuclear bomb go off just would not be the same without the crisp sound effects. I dare you to turn the sound on full blast, and admire the full destruction in all its beauty! As for the A rating I have given, did I mention the satifaction of a nuclear blast ...? It never gets tiring!

But stop the presses! What is this little gem in the main menu called “Global Conquest”? As mentioned before, it is C&C, but played like a game of Risk. This is more like it, and funnily is meant to be a side game like skirmishes. You can play as any of the factions GDI, NOD, or the Scrin. You have a large map of the world, in which you get turns. You can upgrade, setup bases, move squads, and so on about the map. But what is good here is the AI feels less pre-programmed, and dare I say it, more challenging. Plus, you can also implement attacks between missions. For example the GDI is going to attack a NOD base. “Why not use the Ion Cannon to soften them up a bit before you go in?” Why not indeed!

Global Conquest, fantastic, I started off with a high difficulty setting, and they decimated me. Of course I swore and shouted, but I loved every second of my humiliating defeat! Playing against this AI opponent is a challenge. Every time you go into battle, you play on a random skirmish map. The AI isn’t limited, it will show you “who’s the daddy”, and it will attack you from two fronts! Of course you can alter the difficulty level and the AI personality. But I am happy to say that it beat me down to easy level. Making me wonder why the campaign AI can’t be as challenging?

However, there are a few things to point out about Global Conquest Mode. You play on the skirmish maps, you can’t save, and interruptions may end in surrender. Plus, sometimes the AI can do some really stupid things, I know I was just praising it, and I know it’s an AI, but sometimes it still messes up! Finally, never auto resolve a battle, you might be tempted, but for me I always seem to lose. Personally, I think the computer is biased!

But the worse thing about Global Conquest mode is the unfinished feel about it. For example if you have a base on the world map, and one of the other factions come to attack. You would think that you have a full base setup, ready and waiting. It should be a walk over right? Wrong, you get a base, depending on its tier level, 1 being a small one, while 3 being fully developed. Only they forgot one vital thing, there are no attacking or defensive units, and only turrets if you purchase them. This means on the harder difficultly levels, it feels a little like open season, and sorry to say, you are the duck. As for your turrets, there are no guarantees that they will be placed anywhere remotely useful. Now if they added some kind of base constructor into the mix, it would be nice. However due to the randomness of the maps, the placement of both forces, structures, and that you start with no research improvements; it feels a little thrown together. With the bad guys fast approaching, who will be on your door in 20 seconds, you'd better start digging out of that big hole.

This is the nature of the AI battle, that it will always be stacked in its own favour. Plus, depending on the AI personality, whether it is more hold off or full attack, can feel very unfair at times. However this does improve your reflexes, and after awhile you will learn the importance of building the right structures and in the correct order. Expect to die a lot, but if you stick with it, know that you can be as good as any gamer out there!

The overall problem I have with this game is funnily, I am very loyal to this brand. I have fond memories of the very first Command and Conquer, holding the cardboard box, flicking through the manual. Ah yes ... the excitement of the very first mission as the GDI, stormed the beaches...! The sad thing is, that a lot has changed since then, and yet the series still seems to be stuck in a little rut. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of enjoyment to be had. But every time I get a Command and Conquer title it just seems to be the same thing; defeat Kane, or in Red Alert 3, “Yuri”.

But here is the kicker, it’s only the Eight/Ninth month into this 2008 year, and yet this title already feels old. Command and Conquer is a Senior Citizen, where it no longer wants to do new and exciting things, it just wants a mildly warm cup of tea and soft comfy slippers. Granted the “Global Conquest” and some of the missions are real gems. But is it enough to warrant you buying this game, this expansion pack, as you will have to buy Tiberium Wars (or the Kane Edition) to play? Unless you already have Tiberium Wars, and/or, have a deep love for the series, I would put it back on the shelf. Kane's Wrath, feels above average, but for the series, couldn't have come at a worse time. The next title should be better than Supreme Commander, or else, all eyes are on Red Alert 3!

Specifications taken from the Readme File

· OS: Windows XP, Windows Vista (32-bit; 64-bit versions of Windows Vista are not supported)

· CPU (Single Core): Intel P4 2.0 GHz or AMD Athlon 2000+ for Windows XP / Intel P4 2.2 GHz or AMD Athlon 2200+ for Windows Vista

· RAM: 512 MB for Windows XP / 1 GB for Windows Vista

· Disk Drive: 8X or faster DVD-ROM drive

· Hard Drive: 6 GB or more of free space

· Video: DirectX 9.0c, NVIDIA GeForce 4+ or ATI Radeon 8500+ for Windows XP / NVIDIA GeForce 6100+ or ATI Radeon 9500+ for Vista (Note: ATI Radeon 9200 and 9250 PCI, NVIDIA GeForce 4 MX cards not supported)

· Sound: DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card* (Note: For Creative Sound Blaster Audigy cards running under Windows Vista, Intel P4 2.6 GHz CPU or equivalent, or multi-core CPU, required) *Yamaha Xwave-512 is not supported

· Multiplayer: 2 to 8 players with optional voice support, network or Internet connection required (Cable, DSL, or faster connection)

Note: While you will be able to play Command & Conquer 3: Kane's Wrath with the specifications above, play experience may improve if you have additional RAM above the requirement. Please refer to the section on Optimizing Graphical Performance in this ReadMe file for more information.

*Disk Drive not required if you purchased the EA Link version of the game. For more information about the EA Link service, visit: