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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Strategy

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

EA Los Angeles

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

October 28, 2008

 

 

- Has that definite Red Alert flavor

- FMV segments are as cheesy as they should be

- Two-player campaign co-op…

 

 

- … if I could get it to work

- Micromanagement in a game this fast is awful

- Pathfinding issues, especially with water-based units

- Camera feels too close even when pulled all the way out

 

 

Review: Red Alert 2 (PC)

Review: Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars (PC)

Review: Command & Conquer: Renegade (PC)

 

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Red Alert 3

Score: 7.5 / 10

 

I was really looking forward to Red Alert 3.  While it managed to reward that anticipation somewhat – why do I love full-motion video so much? – the experience was less fun thanks to a level of micromanagement that has no place in a real-time strategy game as fast as Red Alert 3.

 

red alert 3          red alert 3

 

Nearly every unit in Red Alert has some kind of alternate mode or “power-up” – it’s not relegated to the new Rising Sun faction, which features units “inspired by” anime characters and Transformers.  Just as an example from the Soviet campaign, the lowly foot soldier can use an assault rifle (default) or a Molotov cocktail.  To be completely honest, by the time I realized there was a secondary “mode” for each unit, I was on the last mission of the Soviet campaign.  While

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playing around with the tutorial or, I don’t know, reading the manual might have made me aware of this fact well before the last mission of the Soviet campaign, once I knew it, I spent the rest of the remaining campaigns trying to use it effectively.  This proved to be a mistake because it just caused frustration.  While fiddling with the toggles of various units it was very typical for either a) the units to be

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destroyed or b) the units to be obliterated by a rushing foe.  I simply abandoned the feature in favor of the reliable “unstrategy” of building up a massive force then stomping through the opponents’ defenses and mopping up with the readily available super weapons, which I strictly adhered to with the 360 version since it made for much easier unit management.

 

The speed of the game really discourages fiddling around with some of the more “advanced” options, especially because it has to be done manually for each unit. So, to properly enjoy Red Alert 3 I had to completely ignore a feature that the development team labored over.

 

Besides layering that complexity on the game, Red Alert 3 features a lot of water and plenty of amphibious and water-based craft that are new to the Red Alert series.  Even this is not without its problems.  By far the worst offenders when it comes to pathfinding, are the naval units, which is strange considering that most water areas are wide open.  When they approach land, that’s when problems happen.  Any irregularity in the coastline appears to be cause for the unit to drop anchor.  This is incredibly annoying when you’re attempting any kind of coordinated attack and the naval component finds a cove in which to take a break.

 

Resource gathering, so much a factor of the Command & Conquer games, boils down to controlling resource nodes on the map.  Ore is kept in large dumpsters and to tap the supply, one only needs to build a refinery next to the dumpster in order to start the collector ferrying ore between the two locations.  In this way there’s a constant supply of ore, which means a supply of credits by which to build your war machine and base structures.

 

red alert 3          red alert 3

 

For each and every mission, you’ll play with another Commander.  While playing solo, the accompanying Commander autonomously moves around the map on its own but will respond to four generalized orders or specific deployment of a superweapon.  The fun only really happens when playing with another human General.  At least that’s been the report of many players.  I, on the other hand, have yet to get an online game going, either cooperatively or competitively.  It’s a technical problem that we have yet to solve though and it appears to be somewhat connected to my serial key which is already connected to an account.  Namely, someone else’s account, which means I can’t connect.  The Xbox 360 fairs much, much better in this part of the game, but how much enjoyment you’ll squeeze out relies directly on your (and your human compatriot’s) proficiency with the controls.

 

One of Red Alert 3’s strongest features is the full-motion video cutscenes and mission intros, which are at just about the right level of camp to be in a Red Alert game.  The tone has definitely changed though, at least when comes to sexing up the female characters.  This is the first Command & Conquer game to feature a full figure on the front of the box; a departure from the headshots of previous titles.  The fact it’s a female figure straddling the box and the foldout of the tech trees has been replaced by a foldout of the “Girls of Red Alert 3” should be a sign this Red Alert features much more cleavage than previous games.

 

It sounds a lot like I actually had no fun with Red Alert 3, but that’s far from the truth.  I have had and continue to have fun with the game, even with micromanagement hell, pathfinding problems, action so fast it’s often the case you’ll lose sizeable chunks of your army before you can get to them to make some orders, and the over abundance of super weapons make a lot of matches a cakewalk.  In spite of all its shortcomings, I have still enjoyed it.  It’s similar enough to Red Alert 2 to feel really comfortable and though there’s been a lot of extra things added to the toy box (and not all of them work), it’s still fun.

 

- Aaron Simmer

(November 24, 2008)

 

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