“Wow, Command & Conquer 3: Kane’s Wrath is actually pretty enjoyable,” I uncharacteristically monologued to myself.
“The controls are a bit complex but as this is a strategy game, that’s forgivable. And they’ve really done the best they could. After all, it can’t be easy to shrink all 108 possible keys of a keyboard into an Xbox 360 controller,” I added.
“And once that was accomplished it was just a simple matter of porting the PC game directly to the Xbox 360 hardware. It’s not wildly different from past Command & Conquer games, but that’s the key to it, I think.”
“Fans would be confused if it diverged too much, and by adding a few new units here and there (including the awesome new, super-expensive, super-deadly epic units) and new factions that are basically just offshoots of old factions with new innate powers, EA has really done an excellent job treading the fine line between pissing off old fans with too much innovation and ignoring possible new fans by leaving the game too stagnant!” I marvelled, fully realizing how strange it was that I was sitting alone in my living room narrating my thoughts to myself like some kind of Stan Lee supervillain.
That’s when the shirt started contradicting me.
I didn’t think I’d ever be cliche enough to actually own a Che Guevara shirt, but they give them away for free with every tattoo in this city, so I probably have a whole closet full of them by now.
Anyway, that’s not important. Che Guevara was speaking to me from beyond the grave, and he had a serious bone to pick with “the corporate fat cats.”
“You know this is just a cash-in, right?” Che asked.
Startled, I managed to mutter: “Huh? Who said that? Oh. Che Guevara shirt … talking to me … Great. What was that about cash-ins?”
“The game. It’s already been released once. Half of it has anyway,” he replied.
“Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars. The original game. It was released for the Xbox 360 almost a year ago. This game, Kane’s Wrath, is just that game with an added expansion pack tacked on that Electronic Arts is reselling to the fanbase — those who Marx called ‘proletariat’ — for another $60 each.”
I had to admit, the shirt was pretty savvy on EA’s marketing ploys, but he apparently missed the memo on this one.
“Che, er, Mr. Guevara,” I stammered. “Kane’s Wrath isn’t just a console port of the PC expansion pack. It adds new modes like the Kane’s Challenge maps.”
I had confused my shirt. “So it adds new modes above and beyond those found in the PC version of the game, but keeps all the old content of the original Command & Conquer 3?”
“Not exactly,” I said.
“See!” the shirtman screamed. “They’re starving their brothers in the street! Instead of releasing a downloadable expansion for a game people already bought, they’ve ported the meager expansion pack, slapped a $60 price tag on it and are reselling it to gullible fans. They’ve declared intifada on the fanbase!”
I think maybe he was drunk. Or I was. Whichever one of us was imagining him was somehow not right.
“Che, it’s only $40.”
“Hm? What is?”
“Kane’s Wrath. The Xbox 360 version is only $40. Yeah, it’s not as cheap as it should be, but when you take into account the huge number of bonus missions EA has thrown in and the convenience of not having to waste space on your Xbox 360’s hard drive by downloading an expansion, it’s not a terrible deal. Plus, the expansion campaign is pretty enjoyable,” I promised the raging shirt.
Shirt Che seemed sad: “I still wish they had included the original Command & Conquer 3 content in the package. EA’s uncharacteristically generous re-release is really ruining my anti-capitalist rant.”
“Che, did I also mention how competent the computer -“
“Que?” he asked.
“Huh? Oh. Sorry. I mean ‘La computadora.'”
“Ah, sí. Gracias.”
“As I was saying: Did I mention how competent the computer-controlled opponents are? They’re almost too good.”
“And that’s a good thing, Señor Cavalli?”
I paused. “Sort of. It’s fantastic that you always have a competent opponent to play against, but the reason why it’s so fantastic is somewhat depressing. See, the multiplayer in Kane’s Wrath is broken.”
“Broken?” he asked. “Broken, how?”
I shrugged. “It simply doesn’t work most of the time. I spent two hours last night trying to connect to an online multiplayer match, and every single time I was greeted with a timeout or a ‘couldn’t create a match’ message. I gave up at that point, but I tried again this morning.”
“Still didn’t work.” I shrugged again. “I must have tried to actually connect to an online game more than 50 times and not once would the game ever complete the connection. Over Xbox Live – which works like a charm for any other game I own – that kinda thing is just inexcusable.”
“Sí. Agreed. Did you already cover the controller?” He asked.
“Yeah, in my bizarre monologue at the beginning.”
His brow furrowed. “How is it? Mal? Muy mal?”
“No. It’s not bad. It won’t ever match a mouse and keyboard for speed and accuracy, but it works once you get used to it. The tutorial at the beginning explaining the whole system could use a bit more emphasis on certain nuances, but you figure things out pretty quickly,” I explained.
At that moment the sun started coming up and Che, and the shirt he lived upon began to fade.
“Quickly, before I’m gone, what’s the Bottom Line on C&C3: Kane’s Wrath?”
“C’mon Señor Cavalli, don’t jerk Che around!”
“It’s far from perfect, but I think it’s about the finest translation of a real-time strategy game available on a console. The story is solid and the game looks great. The overall package, while a bit rough, is utilitarian and functional. The multiplayer is a glaring disappointment, but if you can see past that the game is quite enjoyable, particularly for the discounted price,” I said.
It was then that I realized I was whispering to no one. Che and the shirt he rode in on had gone. The sun was cresting over the nearby hills and somewhere in the distance I heard a rooster cry his love for morning – odd that, since I live in the middle of a major city.
Still, there was no time for worrying about the odd occurrences of that morning. I was exhausted.
I needed sleep.
Recommendation: Try it, if you’re hard up for a strategy game.