Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3

One of the greatest games is back after missing in action for seven years. Is Red Alert 3 the follow-up we’ve all been waiting for?

In a different timeline, the world is in chaos. A Cold War hasn’t ended and Soviet Russia is fighting a war for control of the world with other nations such as England and America.

This has been the setting for Red Alert, a game series spawned by Westwood’s & Electronic Arts’ Command & Conquer series. Designed to come before Command & Conquer, Red Alert puts the player in the role of an unnamed commander in both the Allies & Soviet shoes.

The original was released in 1996 and was followed up with the excellent Red Alert 2 5 years later in 2001, a game which featured a Russian invasion of the nation of America. These games were immensely popular and while the original Red Alert had a somewhat serious tone to it – a throwback to the dark force with which Kane ruled in the first Command & Conquer title – Red Alert 2 threw that away and adopted a more comical & cheesy story-line that featured mind control squid among many of the new inventions found in its arsenal.

Seven years later, Electronic Arts are back with a new game and a new plot. No longer is it Russia versus the Allies; no, now Japan’s Empire of the Rising Sun are jumping into the mix with some of the coolest and craziest weapons you’ll ever see including giant mechanized samurai fighters! Yes, it wouldn’t be a Red Alert game without the Russians back and now they’ve got Tim Curry to take the helm as you become the Red leader. And much like the past Command & Conquer games, the addition of an all-star cast is revived here with George Takei, JK Simmons, and Jonathan Pryce being among the many professional actors used to play out the game.

Unlike the past titles, Red Alert 3 is seen in full 3D. Much like Command & Conquer 3’s use of the engine seen in Command & Conquer: Generals, Red Alert 3 now gets to play out in a 3D world unlike any Red Alert game in the past. Better than even the Tiberium Wars engine, Red Alert 3 has a more refined zooming system, better colours, and what seems like more fluidic control. It’s nice to see the Electronic Arts haven’t gone back to the drawing board and have stuck with something that works for Red Alert 3 because this is one area where it works really well.

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The AI has taken an improvement too and now gamers who found that even Brutal wasn’t enough in the most recent C&C game of “Tiberium Wars” should be well ready for a decent match. While the artificial intelligence does employ very similar tactics time and time again, starting on each map you’ve never played is sure to bring out a mission you’ll want to start again and again for fear of almost certain death.

Adding to a better AI is the addition of video personalities, a feature which makes the Skirmish mode seem even more realistic as your enemies respond to your presence with small videos seen over the communication system. It’s not just in Skirmish mode, however, as these little video personalities make their way into the campaign mode at every turn.

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It’s a shame that Electronic Arts LA made the campaign missions a bit too short. You’ll just be getting into the campaign when all of a sudden it ends. This is a real shame because every campaign, the groundwork for Red Alert 3 does a lot to make you feel as if you’re playing for a real point. Only suddenly does the ground fall from your feet and your left with the next campaign and an inclination to scratch your head wondering how it just ended.

Even with that though, Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 has a lot going for it. In many ways, it’s the Command & Conquer game that everyone wanted with Tiberium Wars but didn’t quite get. Tiberium Wars was good, but Red Alert 3 is better. With unique characters, bright colours, and artificial intelligence that’ll really make you think, Red Alert 3 has a lot going for it. The video sequences are still a little bit cheesy, but its the sort of style you never get bored with. And if you do get bored with the single-player campaigns, hit up skirmish mode and online multiplayer for a game that you won’t put away any time now.

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Developer: EA LA
Publisher: EA Games
Classification: M
Formats: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
URL: Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3

Reviewed by Leigh D. Stark