Command & Conquer 3: Kane's Wrath Multiplayer Hands-On

Kane's Wrath will introduce six unique subfactions along with powerful superweapons, and we got to take this expansion for Command & Conquer 3 out for a test drive.

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With a little more than a month to go before it's released, we got another look last week at Command & Conquer 3: Kane's Wrath. This is an expansion to last year's real-time strategy game Command & Conquer 3 and will continue the saga of the Third Tiberium War. Six new factions will also be introduced in this expansion. We were curious about how Kane's Wrath fits into the Command & Conquer timeline, especially with the announcement last month of Tiberium, a first-person shooter that is set after the events of C&C3. Apparently, Tiberium is set a good decade after Command & Conquer 3, and Kane's Wrath will help fill in what happened in those 10 years.

Kane's Wrath will feature a 13-mission campaign from the perspective of the Brotherhood of Nod. If you get through that, you can try the new global conquest mode, which sounds like a turn-based layer that connects the real-time battles. Last year's game marked a return to the live-action cutscenes that helped define the very first Command & Conquer game over a decade ago. The impressive cast of C&C3 included Michael Ironside, Billy Dee Williams, and Josh Holloway from Lost. Kane's Wrath will feature Carl Lumbly (Alias, Nightjohn) and Natasha Henstridge (She Spies, Species). Lumbly plays leader of The Black Hand, a splinter group of the Brotherhood of Nod that is raising trouble in Australia. His character, believing Nod ruler Kane to be dead, tries to become the new ruler of Nod. However, Kane (played, as always, by Joe Kukan) is alive and sends you to deal with The Black Hand.

The new Marked of Kane subfaction for Nod specializes in cyborg warriors.
The new Marked of Kane subfaction for Nod specializes in cyborg warriors.

Some of the cool things that we saw for the first time include the new superweapons. Each faction gets to play with a superweapon. For example, ZOCOM, one of the new GDI subfactions, has a massive tracked fortress called the Mammoth Armed Reclamation Vehicle or M.A.R.V. The thing looks like a tank, but it's larger than many structures. It's so big that it can garrison infantry inside it for added bonus. If you put an engineer inside, he can repair the M.A.R.V. as it takes damage. The only way to defend against it is sheer firepower or airpower. Of course, superweapons are expensive to build, and to get one, you're going to need a pretty advanced base.

Thanks to the addition of two new subfactions for each of the existing three factions, there are now nine playable sides in Kane's Wrath, a sharp increase that does a lot to add variety to the gameplay. The Steel Talons, the other GDI subfaction, is a bit like the National Guard in that it operates with a lot of secondhand equipment. It has units like the Wolverine, which you might recognize from earlier Command & Conquer games. With that said, the Steel Talons are a very hard-hitting unit, with potent walking artillery in the form of Goliaths. We were having a fun time with those until we ran into the mind-control units of the new Scrin subfaction, Traveler-59. Within seconds, our force of Titan tanks and Goliath artillery were coming under their control. It was only after the carnage that the developers told us that the defense against mind control is to swarm the mind controllers with infantry or hit them with air units.

Goliath artillery can rain down devastation.
Goliath artillery can rain down devastation.

We found out that the Xbox 360 and PC games will no longer be released simultaneously. The PC version ships in March, while the Xbox 360 game has been delayed to summer to allow for the inclusion of a new, radial interface. This new system is a lot simpler and faster to use than the previous interface. Even in its early state, though, the new radial system is a lot more elegant. It should definitely help console players in the middle of a multiplayer battle.

Not surprisingly, the gameplay in Kane's Wrath feels like a more refined version of Command & Conquer 3. In a multiplayer game, the dynamic is battling to build up your economy and forces quickly enough while trying to figure out when and where to strike. Do you attack early to try to knock an opponent off balance? Do you try to turtle up by building up defenses and concentrating on getting expensive, high-value units out? With the new content in Kane's Wrath, there are more tactics and units to put in the mix, which makes for a pretty intense experience.

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