Review by RainingMetal
"Fight for the Red, White, and Blue! Or just fight for the Red. Or perhaps join the Red and White..."
Since I was young, I used to play Red Alert and Red Alert 2 as a child, and I grew up playing this franchise and idolizing it. In 2008, the world was stunned as Red Alert 3 was announced, then released. The game went gold, and I was one of the lucky ones who managed to get their Premier Edition of Red Alert 3. Starcraft II be damned, Red Alert is back, and it's going to rock the world!
Red Alert 3's story is quite solid, as it has three separate Campaigns with each of its own separate story. All three of them use the same introduction at the beginning of the game. After being defeated twice by the Allies, the Soviets go back in time to erase the man they think is responsible for the Allies' many victories: Albert Einstein. Though this action gives the Soviets the advantage, it deprives the USSR of their many nukes, and the Allies still retain their Chrono and Prism (now called Spectrum) weapons (perhaps Stephen Hawking took over Einstein's role). Worse still, the lack of American Technological superiority allowed a new superpower, the Empire of the Rising Sun (Imperial Japan) to rise against the other two parties. Many actors in the cutscenes have also appeared in various Television shows or Movies (such as JK Simmons as the American President). The acting in the cutscenes is quite corny and melodramatic, but that's what makes Red Alert 3 a Command and Conquer game. The stories themselves are functional, although poor President Ackerman suffers an unfortunate fate in each Campaign. All three factions have a variety of different characters (such as the aforementioned Anti-Communist President Ackerman for the Allies, Premier Cherdenko for the Soviets, and the Imperial Emperor Yoshiro), including an intelligence officer for each team.
Red Alert 3 uses a typical RTS (Real Time Strategy) format for control; select Units and make them do stuff. For Command and Conquer veterans, it's highly recommended that they use the Classic C&C mouse setup, as the default controls have Units do actions with the Right-Click (C&C players use the Left-Click, like me!). Many of the Special abilities for each Unit all use F as its hotkey, allowing players to use Special Abilities without having to search for the according key on their keyboards. There are also other hotkeys for production and actions. Overall, the controls are simple, yet versatile, and many advanced options are also available.
Though there's not much to say about the Graphics, the models are sharp and detailed sufficiently, and the Units move fluently and smoothly. The game has nice light, heat, and terrain effects. The most notable shine on this game regarding graphics is the water. When Naval Units sink, their remains sink to the bottom of the ocean, and their remains can be seen for a while. Other sunken objects are also visible. On the surface, the graphics are quite clear, although it's not like the flashy game Company of Heroes. The various soldiers do different fidgety actions when idle, and in combat, they fire and go prone when suppressed.
As with other Command and Conquer games, Red Alert 3's soundtrack is one of my favorite soundtracks ever. Many Command and Conquer veterans may remember the composer Frank Klepacki. He was behind the music making arts within Command and Conquer games up until Command and Conquer: Generals. He returns in Red Alert 3 to make his unforgettable soundtracks for Red Alert 3, as this game won't be Red Alert 3 without Hell March 3! Other composers, such as James Hannigan, Timothy Michael Wrynn, and the band From First to Last made the rest of the soundtrack. Most of their works are almost as unforgettable as Frank Klepacki's compositions. There are different battle, defeat, and victory themes for each of the three Factions, and there are also different environmental soundtracks for each map and mission (such as European soundtracks for the cities of Geneva and Amsterdam, or the cold music within the mountains). Overall, Red Alert 3 has the best soundtrack of all the other Command and Conquer games, hands down.
As for the sounds, all Units have some well-rounded quotes (such as Just like training video! for the enthusiastic Conscript). All gunshots, explosions, and death sounds all sound like they should be.
Now onto the most important part of a video game: Gameplay! The gameplay is balanced and solid. The Classic Command and Conquer-based gameplay returns, as the MCV (Mobile Construction Vehicle) is used to establish bases, and other Structures are produced from there. The Tiberium/Ore fields are replaced with Ore Nodes. Refineries are placed next to these Nodes to collect income, so players don't have to focus too much on resource gathering anymore. Producing Units and Structures use the queue system from Command and Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars. More production Structures can be produced in order to produce more Infantry, Armor, etc. at once. Red Alert 3 expands the principle of naval gameplay as its primary milestone, as Structures can be erected on both land and water. Additionally, some Units are amphibious, giving them a huge advantage on maps with lots of land and water. Each faction also has its own Unit to expand on far away areas away from their main base.
There are four different classes of Units: Infantry, Armor, Aircraft, and Navals. While the Infantry and Armor primarily travel on the ground, Navals steer through the waters and Aircraft dominate the skies. Infantry Units are able to Garrison Structures for extra protection, although this insurance can be defeated by a Unit from each Faction (The main grunt for each Faction either goes into the Structure and clears out the occupants, or throws a Molotov to flush the enemy out). All Units excel at fighting a certain class of enemies, but are either unable to or are poor against other certain Units. This creates a Rock-Paper-Scissors kind of strategy, so a diverse bundle of Units is key to winning in battles, along with using Special Abilities wisely. Although the Units will sometimes have difficulty pathfinding, they often know what to do in most situations. The AI (Artificial Intelligence) is sufficient and quirky. All Units also have some sort of special ability. During the Campaign, two armies can play in all the missions against the enemy. The second army can be controlled by another player or by one of the AI generals in the game. The game also comes with its own wacky tutorial (featuring the Guardian, Hammer, and Tsunami Tanks!), which is very clear, thorough, and funny.
Much like all other RTSes, Red Alert 3 features online gameplay. Co-Op gameplay is available along with the Solo campaign, and two players can duke it out side-by-side during the Campaign. Online is fairly organized, competitive or cooperative, and the replayability is nearly endless. The Co-Op mode is unavailable on LAN. To date, EA (Electronic Arts) has released five different patches since its release, so it looks like they'll maintain this game for a while.
Red Alert 3 is one of the finest games available, and it's good for both new players and Command and Conquer veterans. It features insane Co-Op gameplay, and as of today, the game's Worldbuilder is also available for those who wish to craft their own maps. So what are you waiting for?! Buy this game already!!
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 12/14/08
Game Release: Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 (US, 10/28/08)
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