After experiencing the Soviet time-travelling thrills of Red Alert 3 at EA's impressive Los Angeles development studio I was prepared for an anticlimax of Phantom Menace proportions when getting to play the upcoming C&C3 expansion Kane's Wrath. However, I was very, very wrong.
This is a huge expansion that adds a 13-mission Brotherhood of Nod campaign, six sub-factions, dozens of new units, structures, powers and upgrades, 30 minutes of new hi-def FMV sequences and a new Risk-style Global Conquest Mode.
Kane's Wrath spans over 20 years of Nod history from just after the second tiberium war (featured in Tiberian Sun) when the slap-headed terrorist has to rebuild his shattered organisation, and follows the action through C&C3 and beyond, when a rare alien artifact called the Tacitus is being chased around the globe.
I was shown a couple of new in-game movies - one where Kane is being wrathy about a renegade Black Hand splinter group leader called Brother Marcion (Carl Lumbly from Alias) and another where I'm being briefed by a suspicious-but-sexy agent called Alexa Kovacs (played by Natasha Henstridge - the often naked lady from Species).
LAND OF NOD
The hands-on revealed the six new sub-factions in the three main warring parties of GDI, Nod and Scrin. The Global Defence Initiative's Steel Talons use older technology, such as the popular Titan and Wolverine mechs and heavy vehicles that are fantastic to garrison infantry.
ZOCOM is a futuristic GDI outfit, reliant on sonic technology, that goes into red zones with protective armour to eradicate tiberium using weapons with large area effects, such as the Shatterer sonic beam and Orca attack helicopter.
Nod have the Black Hand who are the in-your-face propaganda wing of the terrorists - they lack stealth, but have tough infantry and vehicles packing flamethrowers and other fire weapons. Mark of Kane is an experimental technology sub-faction with powerful cyborgs - the Awakened (armed with an EMP cannon to disable vehicles) and the Enlightened (very fast troopers for hit-and-run raids).
However, the most fun I had was with the Scrin - Traveller 59 who are a force that can implant brain slugs in humans to control them, and Reaper 17, a fundamentalist sub-faction populated with tripods and otherworldly units that can suck up tiberium and fire out lasers or shards of the radioactive green death for monstrous attacks.
Global Quest Mode finishes things off, giving you a turn-based way to play C&C, watching a rather lovely glowing red tactical world map, moving bases and forces around and either dropping into the RTS mode or auto resolving battles. This first expansion has much to offer the C&C3 addict.