Review by rafdox

"You are in Control General... What are you going to do?!"

Westwood has done it again. When you thought the series couldn't get any better, it proves you wrong. Say goodbye to the NOD and GDI forces and welcome back your classic struggle between the Americans and the Russians, the Red and the Blue, the Good and the Evil, the...
well I'm sure you get the point by now. New units, new buildings, new characters, new strategies, same but creative story. I've played every single one of Westwood's Real Time Stratedy games (Command & Conquer, Red Alert, Tiberian Sun etc...) and I'm not sure if this the best one of the series but it makes a great case for itself. Read along and you make the judgement.

----[ Storyline ]----[ 7 ]

Well what can be said about the storyline? It's your typical bad guys versus the good guys. But let me say that it is well done. The cut scenes before each mission are very cool and they look great. Yuri is one interesting character too, his voice alone can haunt you throughout the game. The plot is not the greatest and most original script but it's quite good so no complaints here. On a side note, Tanya is played by Kari Wuhrer in the cut scenes and well let's just say that is pure eye candy ^_~

----[ Graphics ]----[ 9 ]

The graphics are one of the best parts of the game. Visually this game is superb. You'll notice that many buildings are a lot more flashier and bigger that previews installments which isn't the best idea in my opinion but they make great use of the graphics engine and overall fit in nicely. There's been a considerate effort on Westwood's part to make the buildings and units different, visually, on each side and I think they did a good job with it. There's no way you'll confuse an Allied Ore Refinery or Barracks to a Soviet one. Each unit had a unique feel to it and looks great on the screen. Animation is very smooth and the explosions are very impressive. The thing that impressed me the most is that the game shows off realistic physics. For example when a building blows up there are many pieces flying around, some bounce around for a while while others hit units damaging or killing them. When blowing up a bridge the pieces that fall in the water can actually be seen hitting the water and cause a splash. When something explodes on the ground and there are some vehicles around you actually see the vehicles bounce up and get pushed a little bit, stalling them for a second or two. I know these are minor details but they add so much to the realism of the game.

One of my favorite things about the game are the realistic monuments and buildings included. The Eiffel Tower, the Pentagon, the Statue of Liberty, St. Louis Arch and so on. This is especially fun when you are creating your own map (which you need a stand alone editor to create with) You can really come up with some strange things...

Don't be discouraged by the extremely long time the game takes to load in the beginning because once that is over with there aren't many slow downs in the game and everything flows pretty smoothly. Although many times, especially in multiplayer mode, when there is a HUGE number of units on any given map gameplay slows down a lot. This doesn't happen very often but when it does... beware because it is no fun at all. Everything moves like a turtle and well it's almost like there is no point of playing anymore. From my experience this happens almost strictly in multiplayer mode. Which does come into play if you're playing with another person or say maybe 4 or 5 brutal enemies for the fun of it. Too much strain on the computer? Mind you I have a 1.4 Ghz Athlon with 320MB of Ram so... I dunno about that one.

----[ Gameplay/Fun ]----[ 9.2 ]

Is this game fun to play? You bet it is! I constantly see my myself coming back to this game over and over again. Then again my opinion could be a little bias on this since I really enjoy RTS games, but on the other hand I haven't really played Red Alert 1 or the original Command and Conquer as much so I suppose that is a statement here. Also I usually play tag team with my roommate versus the computer most of the time so I can't say too much about how gameplay is between 2 people versus each other over the net. But the couple of times I did play someone I had no trouble at all.

The missions are creative and fun to play. Some missions are ridiculously easy while others out right frustrating, but that is the good part about it. For some missions it will take a while to figure out just what to do to get through them so you need to figure out how to go about it. Makes you think and plan and I like that. However, once you've figured out how to beat the mission then that's pretty much it for that, unless you want to find another way of trying to beat it but you probably won't bother until much later.

If you're looking for an extravagant ending like the intro then I'm sorry to say you'll be disappointed because all you get is the ending credits. I know I was... but heck all the in between cutscenes are great!

The way point system until you figure out how to work it, is a pain but once you do it's smooth sailing from there. By the way it doesn't really take long to get it down so don't worry too much. Most people don't even use it actually, but it can be the difference. Westwood made a huge huge effort to making the navigation of this game easier and they have succeeded in doing so. On the right hand side bar they split it into 4 sections, Normal Buildings, Defensive buildings, Foot Units, and Vehicle Units. This alone make gameplay SO much better. You don't have to fumble around clicking up and down the menu screen like in the previous games. They also have optional bars around the screen that basically are the shortcuts you use throughout the game like making groups, centering on them, allying with someone etc... etc... They are unobtrusive for the most part but like I said they are optional.

Garrisoning buildings is another new concept in this game and it's such a good idea! Infantry so many times are deemed useless in these games, but just throw a few of them in a couple of building and you have a formidable power. Great for defense or choke points. Speaking of defense, there is a major improvement in defense capabilities in Red Alert 2. The defenses are much stronger and hold up longer. They actually ''protect'' your base very well.

My big beef is with the Super Weapons, the Weather Storm of the Allies and the Nuclear Missiles of the Soviets. In my opinion they are both way too destructive, I mean if you have your base clustered together and your opponent uses one of these on you, your base will be almost completely whipped out! In essence if becomes a fight on who can take out the other person's Super Weapon first. The Chronosphere and the Iron Curtain aren't as bad. There's a bright side to this of course. In multiplayer they can be turned off!

The AI is a story of itself. To be blunt it's cheap and stupid many times. First of all they build at an amazingly faster rate than you are yet you have the same resources, go figure that one out. Then again this has been around forever in the Command and Conquer series. There usually is a pattern that the AI falls into and once you see it the computer is toast. By a pattern I mean the computer will attack let's say from one direction by air all the time, or send in paratroopers on one spot, or take the same path to reach your base. Things of that nature. I don't mean to be totally discouraging because the computer has many moments where it is very slick so it's not always that bad.

Another thing I like about this game is how each country has it's own little perk unique to it. For instance France has the Grand Cannon and Germany has the Tank Destroyers. This gives the game that little individualization that each player likes because he can pick the country that fits his style best. Someone tank rushing you all the time? Nothing a couple of Tank Destroyers can't fix.

----[ Music/Sound ]----[ 9.5]

The Soundtrack of this game is very very good. I actually can't remember a Westwood RTS game with a bad sound track. The genre is a mix of harder rock and a tiny touch of techno at times, but it fits perfectly with the mood of the game. Not much else to say about that except that it is a welcome addition.

Moving on to the Sound Effects. The voices of the units are, how should I put it, funny, strange, and stereotypical? I'm not sure but I get a kick out of them, especially the heavy Russian accents on the Soviets side ''For Moder Rassia!!'' (I couldn't resist) There are only so many different types of responses and they do get repetitive after a while but they don't bother me that much. They are funny to listen to so it doesn't take away much from the gameplay.

Sound Effects of guns, missiles, prism towers, tanks firing, etc.. etc.. are a bit generic but the get the job done. No complaints here. They do sound realistic, especially if you have a subwoofer on your system. When pieces of bridges or shipyards or anything nearby the water fall into the water they actually make a splashy sound. I thought that was very cool because it sounds real and well it's never been implemented before that much.

----[ Replay Value ]----[ 9 ]

Replay value in the campaign mode is relatively low because once you beat it that's pretty much it. You can challenge yourself on a harder difficulty or try out new strategies to win the different missions but that's as far as it goes. The real gem here is multiplayer mode. Playing against other computer controlled enemies will get boring after a while because they usually develop patterns and keep on doing them.

Online multiplayer is what this game is all about. Playing other human opponents online is the best aspect this game has to offer. Replayability here is huge because there are hundreds of people out there to play with hundreds of gameplay styles and strategies. It's here that you test your skills as the commander of your army!

Overall Red Alert 2 is all that and a bag of chips as long as you're into RTS games. It's definitely one of the best ones out there at this time and probably for a while. I'm not sure how you can rent a PC game to try it out but even so it's worth owning. Even if you have never played an RTS game before this is a good one to get your feet wet with.

Overall Score 9 out of 10 (This is not an average, just a general feel for the game)

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 05/08/02, Updated 05/08/02

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