Jim Vessella, lead producer of EA LA’s 360 version of Command & Conquer 3: Kane’s Wrath, (C&C 3: KW) wants to stress the accessibility of the title. It’s definitely a lofty goal– real-time strategy (RTS) games can be some of the most challenging games to wrap your head around, even for those of us who consider ourselves “hardcore.”
Vessella believes that he and his team have unlocked a key component to making things more approachable: the “Command Stick Radial Interface”. If you’re familiar with how you chose your weapons in Saints Row, the Radial Interface shares a lot of similarities. Bringing up the Radial Interface through a button press, you’ll be presented with 12 different units from which to chose from. Moving the right stick around the edges will select your different options. Having 12 different slots sounds cumbersome at first, but EA LA has designed it specifically so players will go acclimated quickly. “The Radial Interface has 12 slots in it at all times, so it mirrors a clock. You can start reminding yourself, ‘Oh, at 2 o’clock is my rocket solider, at 4 o’clock is my war factory.” Vessella says. “You can start memorizing where these things are in the Radial Interface, and after a few play sessions, these things almost become natural.” Vessella believes that this design will allow players to build their base and army up more quickly, limiting the confusion and frustration that players might have experienced in the past.
In addition to the Radial Interface, Vessella notes some key new additions to this PC-to-console transition, taking away some of the annoyances that hampered previous console RTS games. “All of your build queues can now be managed from anywhere on the map, so you no long have to go back and forth between your base and between the battles just to build up some units.” says Vessella. “A lot more easy access to your control groups, so players can more easily manage and find the units that they want to control.”
Console RTS’s don’t have the biggest track record for success on consoles, but Vessella and his team are looking to change that. “We’re hoping in the Radial Interface, combined with the speed and accessibility it brings will really make it an easier experience for new players to jump into.”
Vessella, while confident in the Radial Interface, admits that more work will need to be done in future to further make things more inviting to new users. “This is a time in the RTS genre for consoles where we’re all just kind of learning.” Vessella says. “It’s a big experimentation process that we’re going through, and everyone is trying new things to see what works best for the console audience.”
“We think that this certainly going to be the best control scheme for RTS games coming out next week, but that’s not to say that we’re going to stop there.” Vessella says. “We think we have the foundation correct now with the Radial system, and we’re keep building up on that for future console games.”
Outside of accessibility and ease of use, the title has some new added features that were not present in the PC version of the game. Outside of the obvious changes to how you control the game, C&C 3: KW includes a new mode called “Kane’s Challenge”, which ties in some of the other added content the game has. Kane’s Challenge, in concept, sounds a bit like a Mortal Kombat tournament. You’ll play as one of the six new sub-factions that the game has, climbing through a ladder of AI opponents. Vessella believes that this mode will be fertile ground for new players to learn the strengths and the weaknesses of each of the factions and sub-factions before hopping into the campaign proper, or into Xbox Live matches.
The multiplayer in Kane’s Wrath has seen some new additions since the PC version was released in late March and will feature five different game-types. The most intriguing of which is Siege. It seems like a response to “zerging,” where players would quickly rush to your base with as many soldiers as they could build in a small window, in the hopes of destroying your base and ending the game quickly. In Siege, you’ll be allowed to put barriers around your base for a short period of time, allowing you to build your base and thwart your enemies quick advance. Vessella believes “it’s a great way for beginners to feel safe and try out some new strategies,” without the fear of having your base destroyed within minutes. In addition to the modes, Kane’s Wrath will feature 50 multiplayer maps, which should keep fans busy for quite some time.
While we have not gotten hands on time with the game, we’re eager to see how well EA LA came through on their vision of accessibility. C&C 3: KW will launch in the United Kingdom on June 27th, 2008.
Originally Written By: Art