Computer gamers who'd prefer to add a little brains to their brawn might want to boot up Command & Conquer 3: Kane's Wrath, a new expansion disc that adds more game play to last year's award-winning Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars for the PC.
Kane's Wrath adds 13 new single-player missions and units, structures and powers to each of the three clashing armies.
The latest in the best-selling C&C sci-fi strategy franchise spans 20 years of history, beginning with the rebirth of the Brotherhood of Nod after the Second Tiberium War. The defeated faction is far from destroyed, and its Machiavellian leader, Kane, goes underground to prepare for his triumphant return to power. Kane's Wrath takes you through the climactic events of the Third Tiberium War and beyond.
Between levels, the high-definition video sequences with real actors - namely, Natasha Henstridge (Species, Eli Stone), Carl Lumbly (Alias, Battlestar Galactica) and Joe Kucan, returning as the charismatic leader, Kane - are a bit cheesy, but do a fine job unraveling more of the story.
As with the past real-time strategy games in the C&C series, you'll play this futuristic war simulator from a tilted top-down perspective, as you build and defend bases, all the while commanding ground, air and sea units to take down the enemy. Unlike a slower-paced turn-based strategy game, where players can take their time making tactical decisions on the battlefield, real-time strategy games force players to consider and act upon all decisions on the fly.
Command & Conquer 3: Kane's Wrath adds 13 new single-player missions and myriad new units, structures and powers to each of the three clashing armies: the noble Global Defense Initiative (GDI), the cut-throat guerrillas of the Brotherhood of Nod and the technologically advanced alien race, the Scrin. The GDI, for example, has access to a new helicopter, which is ideal for troop transport, while the Brotherhood of Nod adds a Redeemer combat mech to its arsenal, each equipped with shoulder-mounted missiles.
Along with these core armies are new subfactions, such as Black Hand, Steel Talons, Zocom and Reaper-17, each with their own philosophy, weapon preferences and attack style.
Along with the main solo campaign and a non-story skirmish mode (play against computer-controlled enemies on two-dozen maps), Kane's Wrath also adds a so-so Global Conquest mode, which allows desktop commanders to create their own games against two computer-controlled armies. Multiplayer access over the Internet is back, supporting up to seven opponents and a ton of new maps.
A Microsoft Xbox 360 version of Command & Conquer 3: Kane's Wrath is expected this summer. While this console version will be a standalone game, it's a shame Kane's Wrath on the PC isn't. While it says "Expansion Pack" on the game box, it doesn't indicate you need the original Command & Conquer 3 to play, which you do (the small print is on the bottom of the back of the box). Some expansion packs do not require the original game.
But for less than $30, Command & Conquer 3: Kane's Wrath adds a lot more sci-fi strategy and frenetic nail-biting action to fans of the series. E-mail to a friend