Before today I was firmly convinced (and Iím still of the opinion) that RTSí are much better on the PC. That a console is no place for a real time strategy game since most of the time the control systems are horribly designed and thereís a plethora of buttons and commands to learn. However, whilst I still believe that the premier format for the rts genre is the PC, I can say after playing Command and Conquer 3: Kaneís Wrath; the stand-alone expansion pack for C&C3 on the 360 Ė this is an rts that actually works on a console.
The story puts you in the role of someone whom Kane trusts and whilst people thought the ĎMessiahí was dead during the events of Command and Conquer during the rebirth of Nod in the aftermath of the Second Tiberium War, they very quickly learn that isnít true. As Kane makes a bid for power again and you follow the story through the events of the Third Tiberium War and beyond. The game is packed with new missions, new maps, new units and it has been designed to work with a console controller.
I approached it with a good degree of cynicism to begin with, which quickly began to evaporate when I went through the gameís helpful tutorial mode: Boot Camp and learned the controls, controls that I was able to remember without too much hassle. The game has an expansive single player mode, a skirmish setup that has numerous options including AI controlled allies and enemies, several special challenges thrown down by Kane himself and of course Xbox Live connectivity to take the battles online with friends or against them.
What makes this an overall better experience than any console rts before it, is the fact that the control system provides a degree of flexibility and unit control that you could normally only get from a mouse and keyboard. Whilst by no means perfect itís a massive step in the right direction, other developers need to take note of these control systems and incorporate something similar into their console based rts titles, unless theyíre going fully voice controlled like Tom Clancyís Endwar aims to do.
Unit selection is simple, a single press of A will select a squad and double pressing A will select all squads/units of that type. Holding the left trigger will allow you to select every unit with a single press of A thatís on screen at the time or in range of the cursor. Movement is simple, A moves the unit to a location and double pressing A on an empty patch of ground moves that unit there in move-attack mode. Itís advisable to check out the manual for other advanced controls like changing attack strategy, changing unit formations, suffice it to say that those command choices are simple to get to.
The right trigger is something youíll learn to use quickly; it opens a radial menu that allows you to access special powers, unit abilities and many other features with a quick swing of the left stick to choose them. Stepping back through the menu is done by pressing B and itís possible to select more than one wheel by using the d-pad. This is all explained in the Boot Camp. Itís the radial menu that steals the show, with it you can order new units at the push of a button without having to find the correct building during a dangerous confrontation.
Itís as simple as opening the right part of the menu, pressing A on the unit type and thatís it. Everything important is controlled from this menu and itís the reason that Kaneís Wrath is playable on the 360.