Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 PC DVD
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: Electronic Arts
Release Date: Out Now
The highly likeable Command & Conquer: Red Alert series is back and it's just as enjoyable and as cheesy as ever. On the verge of defeat the Soviet Union decides to take drastic action. They decide to use a time machine they've been working on to go back in time and kill Albert Einstein. Without Einstein, there will be no nuclear weapons and as a result the Soviet Union should have the upper hand when they return to the future. They go back in time and take care of Einstein but when they return to their original time period, things are not what they expected. Yes, they are in a superior position when compared with their enemy, the Allied Nations, but a new enemy has emerged, the Empire of the Rising Sun.
The keyword with Red Alert 3 is co-operation. Each of the three campaigns, one for each faction, has been designed to play co-operatively. That's not to say you can't play them in single-player mode because when playing the game solo a competent AI commander will take up the vacant role. Of course it's not quite the same when playing the game with an AI commander but you do have a certain degree of control over the way they perform. You can tell them to take position at a location of your choosing. They can be ordered to strike a target of your choosing. If you want them to go about their own business for a while you can give them the keep command instruction. You can also give them the plan attack command which instructs the AI commander to build up his forces and strike at a given target. You can also instruct them to perform a powerful co-commander strike when one is available. The co-commander's forces are always green making them easy to pick out at all times.
The three factions aren't vastly different from each other but there are enough differences to make playing with each of the factions sufficiently different. There are some rather strange units at your disposal during the course of the game. Dolphins and bears are just some of the units you might not expect to be controlling in an RTS. The game features a lot of water based battles, more so than in any other Command & Conquer game I can remember and some units have the ability to fight both on land and in the water.
There are some problems with the game. It can be tricky to setup a co-op play online which is a shame as when you can get a game underway, it's enjoyable. There are some pathfinding issues which are rather strange seeing as how much polish other areas of the game have received. Some will also be disappointed with the lack of innovation on offer here. Yes the Empire of the Rising Sun does add a certain freshness to the game but only in terms of how the game plays. The skirmish mode (which can be played against human or AI opposition) feels no different from past games in the series. In fact the core game-play is pretty much the same as in previous Command & Conquer games and those that have tired of the formula will be disappointed to learn that aside from the co-op play there's little change to what has become a dated, if successful, RTS formula.
Graphically, Red Alert 3 looks good. In keeping with the past games in the series, Red Alert 3 has a brighter colour palette than most RTS games and it's a rather pleasing look. The game is quite demanding however and you'll need a fairly powerful graphics card to run the game at higher resolutions. The cutscenes are definitely the highlight of the game however. Appearances from Tim Curry and George Takei are particularly welcome and add extra charm to the proceedings. There's a fair bit of cleavage on display too, with the actresses seemingly unable to fasten any of their blouse buttons that are less than eight inches lower from their collar bone. Still, most will appreciate the sauciness this adds to the game's cutscenes.
Red Alert 3 is subtitled but the subtitles aren't enabled by default meaning the cutscene you receive when you first load the game isn't subtitled. With the subtitles enabled you'll be able to follow the game's bizarre storyline. The game's cutscenes don't have any character names or portraits and it's not always clear who is saying what but for the most part this doesn't cause any problems. Mission briefings are subtitled. Mission objectives are shown in text and you're notified in text when an objective has been completed. The game's tutorials are subtitled. Comments that the units make when you issue orders to them are not subtitled and some of the transmissions you receive during a mission are not subtitled. That said, all of the important communications are subtitled. Whilst Red Alert 3 isn't perfect in catering for deaf gamers then, it's certainly good enough to allow deaf gamers to play without any real problems.
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 is a game that gives fans of the series exactly what they want. There's a solid strategy game here that has an enjoyable storyline which is all the more likeable for being humorous. Those who like to play co-operatively will really appreciate what Red Alert 3 has to offer and it's great to see that there are developers who realise that there are many gamers out there who like to play co-operatively rather than competitively. Those expecting the game to contain some major innovations to the Command & Conquer formula will be disappointed because it doesn't really offer much that hasn't been seen before. Those who weren't looking for change will find little to complain about however. The ability to play through the campaigns co-operatively is such a refreshing addition and it's one that ensures the replay value of the game remains high.