Review by Pikachu1918

"A Great Series, given a half efforted sequal by EA"

Introduction

This is just a quick recap for those who are not remotely familiar with what the Command and Conquer Red Alert franchise. This was a Westwood Title; the last one came out in 2000, under a joint management of EA Games and Westwood Studios. It's clearly been a while since EA Games came out with something new, and it shows. Since there are some good concepts I see here, some recycle stuff, and some stuff I out and out HATE. It's an interesting little universe for anyone remotely familiar with the concept of psychohistory.

Just in recap the situation for those who don't know this history of Red Alert, Albert Einstein built a time in the late 1950s, and went back to the 1920s, where he killed Adolf Hitler shortly after World War I when he was leaving Austria and heading for Germany, this resulted in World War II never happening. Instead the two super powers, the USSR and the Allied nations went at it instead. The first game ended with the Allies winning the war, and the USSR becoming a vassal state.

The second game started when the USSR decided to try and reclaim its former status, which it fails to do. This game appears to start as Moscow is falling during the second installment of this game. Premier Romanov has fled and been captured, while two of his officers decided to use their own version of the Allies time technology. They go back to the 1920s and kill Dr. Einstein, the previous two games become irrelevant in a sense, since Hitler couldn't die, since Einstein couldn't kill him, which explains in a sense how Japan comes to become a world super power.

Story: 8/10

When I originally read how this game was going to go, I admit I had my concerns. It's easier to build a game where you have, a good guy vs. bad guy story line. The addition of a new third faction seems to be something EA Games has been pushing into all the Command & Conquer games recently. Sometimes as a player you feel its pure featurism; there is no point or reason for this additional faction.

I'm pleased to say in this case the addition does make sense and one that I can approve of. The Japanese offer a much different style of play, and tactical thinking that you get of either side. The ongoing story from the internal point of view does make sense and is plausible. You will face choices in game which will reflect what you see between missions. Some of the in game videos between missions will see corny, where you almost want to roll your eyes. However, you know what? The corny acting is part of the game when it comes to Command & Conquer. Mind you I am left thinking that EA tried to push the busty babes a little too much during the vidoes.

Gameplay : 7/10
Where to start? It seems EA Games like to try and fix what isn't broken when it comes to gameplay. I've got two legit axes to grind, and I know allot of players will side with me on this one. The first being is that you can't choose a side, do all the missions and celebrate that faction winning. Instead you're ‘encouraged' via an in game warning to play the factions in order from left to right. While it's good to try new ideas, this isn't a good one, sometimes a player likes to go with one set of forces and finish the game. Its worked for four Command & Conquer titles, why not this one.

Assuming you've played the recent Command & Conquer Tiberium Wars, you're going to see yourself recycling allot of the same tactics. This is partly due to the influence of a good title having on this one; it's also due to the fact that you can only mix things up so much. There are some additions to this game, such as naval forces to force you to work on new playing methods both on the offensive and defensive side.

There are some new ideas which are good, and do make the score of 7/10 make sense. There is one thing I've seen allot of in Red Alert 3, that is something previous C&Cs's lacked, missions where you're given limited units and an objective. It seems there are more of these missions in Red Alert 3, and it's nice, since it forces the player to learn the units in question well, and focus on different tactics other than the all units charge at once idea.

That being said about units, in Red Alert 3, each unit has duel features. This is both good and bad. Good since it allows you once again work on new ideas on how to use a unit. The downside being that you almost certainly need to hot key every unit type separately, which is a real pain on the control aspect of things. Yes, if you put multiple unit types under one hot key, only one of the switches for the other way the unit can function will show. With a game like this, you need to three critical things, command, control, and communications. Sadly EA didn't think about the one of the three Cs.

Graphics: 5/10

I know, you're looking at that score and whistling on why as to why it's so low. Just to be clear here, I played this game at maximum settings, it's not one of those low graphics/poor system complains. Usually in an RTS game like this one, you're not there for the eye candy; however I felt I got burned in a sense.

Here is the thing, I am looking at the system requirements, and then I play the game. I am seeing better graphics in Tiberium Wars, which has lower system requirements, then I am seeing in Red Alert. Don't get me wrong, the graphics are still respectable, the different environments and such are beautifully rendered with artistic care. However, it seems Tiberium Wars came out with a better graphics engine at the end of the day over Red Alert 3.

Sound: 7/10

The sounds for the game are adequate, nothing special to write home about, but the in game music does the job well enough. It sounds good enough to be a war title, but nothing that will have your writing up EA and asking for a copy of the sound track.

Multiplayer: 5/10

I wish I could divide this score in a sense, besides offer a score to summarize the two. Since as someone who likes to play alone, the consistent offer to play with others is annoying. Since even during solo play, either you play with a human in co-op mode, which is clunky, or you play with an AI. I mean the worst part is that the co-op mode doesn't work over a LAN, and it's clunky online. I think Gamespy's own system is better than the one hacked up in Red Alert. There is no way to confirm if the other play received your offer, or to see how skilled s/he is. I mean I don't know about you, but I have friends who come over with a lap top, why not permit players to play over a LAN? Why force the player to log online to play against a friend who is 10 feet away?

The actual system to log on and play online during none mission play is simple and sweet. However, the problem is the present maps that are part of the game lack creatively. It's like EA designed half a map, and used it to make the other half. I mean games like this are suppose to force you to think, and with few exceptions, EA doesn't want you to think during online play, which is disappointing.

Replay: 9/10

This part of the game does create some good value, since you've got loads of missions, skirmish mode, and let's not forget online play. It'll take you upwards of a year to beat this game every way a person could think up.

Final call time!

If you've read my reviews before, you know I love FINAL CALL TIME! You now know Command & Conquer Red Alert 3 as well as I do, and you want me to one line the response to the following question,“Do I buy it or not?” Do NOT buy it now. Wait until it drops down to say $35-$40.

Don't get me wrong its a good solid game; the problem is that it's too easy in some cases, the system requirements don't match the product being given. I mean there was a patch for it on release date, which shows EA was sloppy with the code work, the real kicker is that the game ends with you. You want more problems? About mid-way though the soviet campaign you can almost hear them say, “Expansion pack is coming soon”, which is hard to swallow, a good expansion pack not something you can see so early on during the game.

The good parts are the story line, how each faction has completely different methods of operation as opposed to the others. How EA actually realized certain things couldn't come to pass without Dr. Einstein. This is really at best a so-so effort by EA on a series, that while I am glad to see it come back, I think deserved better than this second hand effort EA gave us. Now I must be off to charge a Tesla tank gaming fan.


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 11/05/08

Game Release: Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 (US, 10/28/08)


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