|System: X360, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA LA||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 24, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4 (online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Any bad patches are overshadowed by Kane's Wrath's attention to unit specialization. Some RTS games are consumed with building a big force and sending it across the map, but in this game that just won't do. It will do you good to learn the strengths and weaknesses of each unit. What's your reward for that research? You can come up with some really tricky tactics.
For example, Shadow Troopers have a stealth ability that allows them to sneak around the map. Okay, nothing fancy yet. If you build some Specters (heavy artillery) then it gets fun. Shadow Troopers can lay down a GPS-like beacon, which acts as targeting reticule for Specters. The great thing is the Specters can be anywhere on the map and hit the target. Using this team-up strategy, you can take out an entire base with just a team of Shadow Troopers and a few Specters.
Being an RTS, Kane's Wrath has the typical audiovisual trappings of the genre. The graphics are detailed enough to make out particular units and structures (without having to zoom in) and the battles give a great sense of scale. Also, the framerate rarely stutters - it takes a ton of structures, units, and massive explosions to really stress the engine. Most RTS games suffer from repetitive audio and Kane's Wrath is no exception. Units constantly blurt out their war cries and it doesn't take long for this to get old. Hearing, "We've got rockets" over and over again just isn't necessary. Thankfully, there's a voice mute button.
The Campaign and Kane's Challenge can soak up a good deal of time, but after a while you'll venture over to the dedicated Skirmish mode. Not only can you select one of nine factions and a large assortment of maps, you can also play against the game's scalable A.I. What makes the A.I. great is, aside from easy, medium, and hard difficulties, there are particular personalities the A.I. can adopt, ranging from Rusher (an early attacker) to Turtle (a purely defensive style) to Steamroller (favoring massive assaults); these tendencies will help prepare you for Xbox LIVE matches. Online, you can play with up to three people or swap them out for A.I. During review, there were initial problems with multiplayer. Since EA deals directly with the matches, the first few connection attempts were greeted with a message of "unable to connect to EA servers at this time." But the problem seems to be fixed now and the few matches played exhibited no lag.
Kane's Wrath is a great example that real time strategy can find a comfortable home on a console. With the added bonus of not needing the previous Command & Conquer installment, Kane's Wrath comes as a very easy recommendation to RTS fans who may not have a gaming PC or simply want to try out their favorite genre on a different platform.
CCC Freelance Writer