PC Review: Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3

More than just Command and Conquer 3.5?

In Red Alert 3, the desperate leadership of a doomed Soviet Union travels back in time to change history and restore the glory of Mother Russia. The time travel mission goes awry, creating an alternate timeline where technology has followed an entirely different evolution, a new superpower has been thrust on to the world stage, and World War III is raging. The Empire of the Rising Sun has risen in the East, making World War III a three-way struggle between the Soviets, the Allies, and the Empire with armies fielding wacky and wonderful weapons and technologies like Tesla coils, heavily armed War Blimps, teleportation, armored bears, intelligent dolphins, floating island fortresses, and transforming tanks.

Red Alert 3 asks the question “What If?” What if every bizarre research project and technology experiment for the last 70 years had actually borne fruit? What if the Philadelphia Experiment, time travel theory, teleportation, invisibility, Tesla technology, and a hundred other intriguing research projects had all paid off and gone mainstream? What if the Soviet Union survived and thrived; what would it look like 10 years in the future? What if the Japanese Empire had never fallen and instead became the ultimate high-tech military superpower? The end result is an imaginative and playful vision of an alternate future filled with possibility.

Real time strategy games have come and gone over the years, especially in the Command and Conquer series. I’m not familiar with the Red Alert series until I played Red Alert 3, so I can’t compare them but it’s reminiscent of C&C 3 and C&C 3: Kane’s Wrath with its interface, looks and controls. The story is a different one and perhaps the cheesiest one ever with actors like Tim Curry trying to do a Russian accent, it’s comical at best…but the good thing is that you can tell that they know it’s bad and do a good job in getting through it.

To be honest, you want to ignore the story as its just plain ridiculous. The only redeeming thing about it is the cheesy cutscenes, although they won’t please everyone. Some might have hoped for a more serious story and one that has better acting, but it wouldn’t be a Command and Conquer game if they did that.

The campaign is split into each side of the conflict and the gameplay handles exactly like C&C3, although this time you can do the missions through co-op thanks to GameSpy, it takes a lot of the pressure off as things can get hectic at times and it’s good to divide up responsibilities like building places and training soldiers while the other player leads them to fight. It’s probably the best feature of the game and one that should have been included with the previous C&C games.

For the first time, you can now fight on the sea. Some special characters will even go as close to the edge as possible to target an air strike on battleships. It mixes things up a bit, but to be blunt it seems that it’s all very safe. It does all the standard things but nothing stands out like it should do, it seems to be missing something, an edge to make it better than CC3 other than co-op and standard multiplayer modes….sadly that’s not the case with Red Alert 3.

Visually, the game looks great…especially at 1920×1080 resolution. Everything is bright and has a good vibrant use of colours, it’s definitely the best looking game in the series thus far although it’s not exactly on the same level as say, Crysis (but it was never going to look that good!) Cutscenes are in HD and you will laugh at the ridiculous costumes that the actors are forced to wear for them, they are a joke! The soundtrack is not bad but not memorable either.

The Verdict

Red Alert 3 does everything right, it just doesn’t do anything different from other C&C games. They’ve played it safe and that’s its main problem, the rest is fine…it’s just not groundbreaking or unique, making it forgettable.