Command & Conquer 3: Kane's Wrath Review
The Command & Conquer series is still new to consoles although PC gamers are intimately familiar with it. Unless you count yourself among those PC fans then the story in Kane's Wrath will make little sense to you because the game assumes that you're pretty much familiar with the whole C&C timeline. You may also be surprised by the hammy acting and cheesy dialog in the game's live action cutscenes if you didn't already know that this is one of the hallmarks of the series and is all quite intentionally over-the-top. Whether or not this all makes sense to you is of little consequence because this is a real-time strategy game, and thus is far more dependent on good gameplay action than it is on storyline. So let's set the story aside and just take a look at the gameplay.
Kane's Wrath, like all Command & Conquer games, is a real-time strategy game in the classic mold. You gather resources (in this case the radioactive element tiberium) which you use to purchase base structures which in turn are used to purchase and build your fighting units. Kane's Wrath is fast-paced and favors those who prefer rush attacks (quickly building up a large number of units to overwhelm an opponent's base) than those who prefer to build up large bases and take their time creating a balanced army. Unit selection can be just as important as army size, though, because each unit has its counter. If you invest all of your resources in tanks designed to turn your opponent's structures into piles of rubble, you can find yourself in real trouble if your opponent has set up a defensive line of rocket armed infantry.
Strategy games have long been more of a PC genre because they are a natural fit for mouse and keyboard control. EA faced a significant challenge in developing a control scheme that would simulate the typical controls for a PC-based RTS game using the Xbox 360 controller, but for the most part the developers succeeded in meeting this challenge. Rather than directing a pointer to menu bar icons as in the PC version of the game, Kane's Wrath on the Xbox 360 uses a radial menu system tied to the right trigger. Hold the trigger and a command wheel is displayed on screen, and the right stick is used to select the desired action. The menu is context-sensitive, so if you have a structure selected you'll see its build and research options and if you have units selected you'll see stance and formation options. It's a good system that you'll be able to get the hang of pretty quickly, even if like me you've cut your teeth playing PC strategy games. The area in which the interface doesn't work too well is in selecting and managing units. You can select all of the units currently on the screen by holding the left trigger and pressing A, but there's no way to lasso units with a drag select or to quickly select all of the units of a certain type. These selection methods are critical to managing balanced armies with a good mix of units, but there's no simple way to do that here. At least forming unit groups is available, but getting the different unit types into place so that they can be selected into groups takes far more time and effort than it should.