The Dark messiah has returned to us! And in a fashion we have never seen before. Finally we get to experience his vision from his point of view, to see his machinations from his own divine perspective! Ahem. I mean to say, C&C3 Kane’s Wrath has finally arrived. Forgive me if I come off a bit fanboy-ish, but as a long time C&C player, always favouring NOD, this expansion pack with its focus on Kane and a NOD only campaign is the perfect gift to my sensibilities.
In a nutshell the storyline extends from the end of the second Tiberium war, as depicted in C&C2 Tiberium Sun Firestorm. From here it covers some of the secret power struggles fought by Kane between this time and the third war, when the world thought him dead. After that, some the seminal events of the third war are covered, including his latest apparent death, and finally the expansion concludes with the conclusion of Kane’s ultimate plan some significant time after the war. The game ends with a cliff hanger, leaving the plot wide open for a second expansion pack or even a full fledged sequel.
Kane’s plots are explained in more detail than ever before, and things that looked mysterious or even insane from the GDI or his own sub commander’s perspectives look a good deal more intelligent and Machiavellian when you are fighting at his direct order. The plots weakness, if any, is that the same tired rigmarole of this or that NOD commander once again betraying Kane, although in Kane’s Wrath this is resolved in a way that was a good deal more satisfying, and fit with the back story a little more. The new actors accompanying the esteemed Joe Kucan are good too, namely an excellent performance by Carl Lumbly of Alias and BSG fame, and Natasha Henstridge from Species. Both actors performed admirably, although Carl Lumbly’s portrayal of a NOD Black Hand Zealot was particularly noteworthy.
Aside from the plot and the acting, the new factions in Kane’s Wrath work pretty well. Obviously the NOD’s factions are those I became most familiar with, with the fire and infantry orientated Black Hand being playable in act one, the standard NOD army in act two and the cybernetic hyper advanced Marked of Kane playable in act three. Each faction played significantly differently and each was still fun to work with, so they’ve carried it off well. The Scrin’s two new factions focus on manipulation/mind control and destruction respectively, and likewise the GDI have new factions focused on destruction and manoeuvrability. In multiplayer the balance between each fits quite well, without any given faction seeming overpowered. The new super units added to each race are cool too, although I found them a bit gimmicky in appearance.
Another big thing with Kane’s Wrath is the global conquest mode, which is marketed as a ‘risk like’ game type where you conquer the Tiberium-ridden world with your chosen race. This mode is interesting, and focuses on gradually building bases across the various land masses, controlling population centres and Tiberium deposits. Each race in this mode also possesses secondary objectives, such as building thresh-hold towers as the scrin, which adds further tactical complexity to any given game. Time-wise depending on which objectives you go for global conquests can take days to finish, and the strategy and tactics of the computer opponents made them worthy adversaries. The NOD are particularly insidious, with their ability to cloak their bases making tracking them down and destroying them to the last obelisk was a significant chore, even with such devices as the GDI’s Ion Cannon.
Ultimately Kane’s Wrath is an awesome expansion pack to a great game. Although the GDI are nominally the good guys, and the NOD’s playing style is not for everyone, everyone knows that Kane as played by Joseph Kucan is the chief draw and ultimate character in the C&C line, and a campaign solely focusing on him and exploring his motivations and desires has long been overdue. I highly recommend this expansion for all true followers of the Dark Messiah.