As for my first ever game review I decided to write on Command & Conquer – Red Alert 3, one of my favorite games in the Strategy genre. This game was released last October 2008 for the PC and Xbox 360 platform. Another expansion of this game dubbed Red Alert 3: Uprising is scheduled to be launched in March 2009. Those not familiar with this game genre should give it a try! Usually those games involve an element of planning and getting to know your unit’s abilities and weaknesses; therefore the players’ decision-making skills have a high significance in determining the outcome.
For those who have been into gaming for quite some time, the Command & Conquer series of games should be quite familiar since the first game in this series was released back in August 1995 by Westwood Studios. Now the game is being developed and released by EA Games, a very well known and reputable game studio. So much has evolved since the first release, but the basic elements of the game are pretty much the same as the first one.
Red Alert 3, takes up a very different tongue-in-cheek approach, with B-actors like George Takei and Tim Curry hamming it up, and women in ridiculous outfits giving the mission briefings. This is something that players of the previous games might actually not appreciate since the game takes up a bit of a comedy twist. Some might like it, some might not.
In a few lines, the basics of the game involves you (the commander) building your military base, base defense (air and land defense), attack units (infantry, vehicles, aircraft and sea vessels) and once that is done, you have to attack the other player’s bases and at the same time protect your own base. There are other aspects involved in the game such as technology research; allowing you to upgrade your buildings and units, whilst also providing you with helpful features and extra weapons. There are also the much loved super weapons like the Psionic Decimator, Vacuum Imploder and the Proton Collider. Those weapons usually take a lot of time and resources to build and charge, but once charged, they can deal massive damage to your opponents. Some unusual, I dare say funny units, in this new version are the War Bears and the Attack Dolphins which aren’t very powerful really but can be helpful too on your way to conquer your enemy.
First thing one notices immediately upon first load of this game is the very high-quality graphics, in fact, a basic PC might not be able to run this game smoothly, a high end PC with a good CPU, a good amount of RAM and decent graphics card is always recommended for most of the new games. The full motion video cut-scenes and game intro are absolutely incredible and very professional. Massive visual improvements are expected by all fans of this series from one release to another, and this latest version doesn’t let down in this aspect!
As with the previous games in this series, the player takes control of one of the factions; U.S.S.R., the Allies (i.e., NATO), and the new Empire of the Rising Sun. the three sides are much more diverse than before, both in terms of play style and units. The Russians are tough, slow, and cheap, while the Allies are very high-tech and rely primarily on air power. The Japanese, emphasize on transforming units that play several roles but are weaker than the equivalent units on the other side – they do however possess the “cool” factor out of the three. Each faction has also a special unit that have enhanced capabilities like Natasha, Yuriko and Special Agent Tanya, which can kill infantry at huge ranges, take over or destroy enemy buildings and vehicles very easily and quickly. These super units are sometimes your vital, and most important unit of each mission since if the main unit is killed the mission is lost. Some factions also allow you to also build engineers that can steal your enemy’s technology. The downside is that those engineers are very weak and it’s a though job to manage to get them past base defenses.
This all takes place in an alternate universe with beautifully designed land and seascapes where the Soviet Union still exists, and this time, due to the Russians using a time machine to mess with history, the Empire of Japan’s once again a major military power. The trio of factions pit their unique abilities and units against each other in three separate single-player campaigns (skirmish and online deathmatch are also available)
Of course, Red Alert 3 doesn’t get everything right: hence why I rate this game with a score of 4.5. Missions rotate among about a half-dozen “stock” types, and multiplayer maps are often a bit bland. EA still has difficulties with connectivity to its online community, making this at least the third title they’ve produced with such problems. We can only hope EA gets this worked out for the upcoming expansion, because if past performance is any indicator of future excellence, it’s going be one hell of a game.