Faction Fiction Friction
Now, obviously since Kane's Wrath
is an expansion pack the focus is mostly on new content and how well it balances and complements the existing game. As far as expansion packs go Kane's Wrath
is pretty hefty too - there's new units, modes and playable factions riddled right throughout the game. It can be tough to know where to start, so let's start small; new units.
For the new units and vehicles at the players disposal there's both good news and bad news. Which would you like first?
Well, the bad news is that none of the new units stand out as being incredibly innovative or interesting. There's new infantry men with high-powered chainguns, a dash of new tanks and research routes scattered around for each team, but its fairly obvious that the new units have come about more as a result of tweaking variables and adding polygons rather than introducing new ideas to the table.
Then there's the good news, which is that the new units fit in excellently with the existing armies of each team. The new infantry and tanks you have at your disposal may not be incredibly exciting, but at least they don't suddenly shift the battle in GDIs favour merely by merit of existence. Your new minions won't wow you to look at or with revolutionary new spawning tactics, but they do deliver on the most basic aim – to provide more choice for players without breaking the game itself.
Frankly, if you want to be wowed and cowed with awe then you were never going to see it in a chaingunner anyway - there are new super attacks and epic powers for each team that serve that purpose.
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Then, there's the missions. As we said before all the new missions in the singleplayer campaign are focused around Kane and his Brotherhood of Nod – there's no GDI or Scrin campaign to wage and no option for you to trade in Nod's Natasha Hensridge for GDI's Jennifer Morrison if that's your wish.
That said, the missions are still fun even if you'd rather shake your head at Nod (You dare disrespect the Kucan?! -- Ed
) and, just because you're playing on Kane's side doesn't mean you won't still get to go tactic-to-tactic with some of Nod's splinter groups. Many of the levels are based around exactly the type of in-fighting that has prevented Kane from world domination, so even when you're bad you're still good. Kinda.
On top of that you'll get to play with armies of various sizes. One moment you'll be assembling huge forces for tremendous assaults, next you'll be harking back to Red Alert 2
with a lone commando behind enemy lines. Again, it's a small hint that EA has learned that it would be best to take any Command and Conquer
series back to basics rather than back to the future.
Then, the factions – something that has been re-introduced from previous, less well known Command and Conquer
expansion packs. The faction system is essentially there to open up some new teams to players but without the faff and screen crowding that might result of introducing entirely new races. Thus, there are teams-within-teams for those who want to specialise a tad beyond the basics.
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Each faction represents something different and has extra units and abilities pushed in a particular direction, allowing players the chance to capitalise on the strengths and weakness of their play-styles. There's two factions for each team and each is explained differently in the games story – the Black Hand for example are a religious splinter faction of Nod's Brotherhood, while GDI's Steel Talons are a crack commando squad independent from other armies.
Each new faction treads a fine line, and most of them tread it very well. There's a delicate balanced to be maintained here – each faction has to feel like only a minor variation from the parent team, but that variation must be big enough to justify the faction existing.
There are however a few balance issues here – the higher-powered infantry of the Steel Talons in particular were a thorn in our sides and at one point our entire base was bought down by a single infantry squad who made it past the turrets. Thankfully though there is a defense to every attack and even unskilled players will quickly learn how best to tackle them. That's true even in the games new Global Conquest mode which has the player taking it in turns on a Risk
-like board to pick apart the two opposing factions.
There's an awful lot to like about Kane's Wrath
and, if I'm going to be utterly open about it, I think it's not just an expansion on the
original game, but a radical improvement on it. It's managed to do what a lot of hardcore C&C
fans thought was impossible and introduce more of the old-school flavour and personality into the framework set out in Tiberium Wars
There are still problems – we'd have loved it if it was possible to zoom out just a tiny bit more for example and the multiplayer side of things does feel like more of the same and is essentially untouched, but by and large Kane's Wrath
represents an excellent step forward for both EA and the franchise.
Do we recommend you pick up a copy of Kane's Wrath
? Kind of. If you've not already got a copy of Tiberium Wars
then, to be honest, it isn't really worth it. You're obviously not a big strategy fan and you'd be spending a lot of money for an expansion pack which isn't standalone.
On the other hand, if you've already got the original game then picking up Kane's Wrath
is a definite must – if only because you get a beta key for Red Alert 3
- and that is always
worth boasting about in the forums