Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 Review
by Gauss

Basic Information:
Developer: EA Los Angeles
Publisher: Electronic Arts
North American Release Date: 3/23/2009
European Release Date: 3/27/2009
Trophies: Yes

Red Alert is one of the arms of the Command and Conquer franchise. It follows an alternative reality where Einstein invented Time Travel and went back to kill Hitler. Without Hitler, Germany joined the Allies in World War 2 to fight the Soviet Union. Red Alert 3 follows yet another fork in the road after the Soviet Union goes back in time to kill Einstein in an attempt to gain the upper hand, upon their return they find that while the Allies are on their wits end, Japan has risen to power and joined the fray.

Red Alert 3 is an RTS, meaning you are a commander commanding groups of up to 50 units and your goal is usually to stomp all the other guy's units and destroy his base. What is really impressive about this RTS in particular is just how varied the strategies for doing this can be... Too often these games degrade into either unit upgrades being too complicated to be worthwhile or the units you get early on being the only ones worth building because all the others are too specialized.

Red Alert 3 doesn't have that problem, in a truly great move EA not only kept the units balanced, but kept the tech tree in check as well. What you will find is that no one specific unit is able to over-power any one other unit, all of them have a nice mesh of checks and balances. Your artilleries are able to dish out lots of damage, but with very poor reaction time and reload, so they are able to be over-whelmed by quicker units. Those units can't take damage though so even in large numbers they are easily thinned out with heavier units, but heavier units are slow and easily taken out by artillery. Its a great thing to behold when even in the last levels you will still find a need to build the lowest units in your tree to preserve your strategy.

What's even more impressive is that Red Alert 3's factions are truly varied. These are not simply three clones with different names for the same units.

This is where Red Alert 3 truly shines. The multiplayer aspect is not bad, it actually is a great RTS MP system. The singleplayer is always where the most fun is to be had. In this case you have 3 campaigns of 9 missions each, featuring a difficulty curve that rises as you'd expect with the most difficult missions being toward the end and building off of what you have learned in previous missions nicely.

The story varies depending on your faction. The Allies are the primary again, and their story focuses on repelling the soviet invasion out of Europe before the Japanese launch a surprise attack, which prompts a ceasefire as well as a hilarious mission involving Mount Rushmore. All handled in between cutscenes featuring Tanya and the lingerie your communications officer is wearing.

The Soviets are all about world conquest and focuses on repelling both fronts while dealing with Tim Curry's goatee and his volcano fortress and some bountiful cleavage provided by your communications officer. The Japanese campaign features less scantily clad women but is by far the funniest, full of robots, George Takei, and the US invading Japanese held Pearl Harbour.

I am sure many of you read those last two paragraphs and went "what?" As I said before though, Red Alert 3 is not a game to be taken seriously. This is a game which focuses on gameplay, and the story is merely something to keep a smile on your face and keep you interested just to see where it goes next.

If Red Alert 3 suffers anywhere, this is the spot. The primary problem is for a game that is built around Co-op, the Co-op system in this game is too tedious. Co-op is done invite only rather than having an open lobby where players can pair up from a pool.

In competitive multiplayer the game holds up well, matchmaking works wonderfully. What's more is the maps are built such that rushing is difficult, a breath of fresh air for any RTS fan. To the un-informed base-rushing is the FPS equivalent of camping, it takes no real skill and can quickly suck the fun out of people who don't enjoy sitting in one spot with their thumbs up their asses, or in this case don't want to spam the same low-level unit 50 times. Turning a strategy game into who can build the most units the fastest.

Red Alert does this by putting base defences in a separate build cycle all its own and making the maps large enough to provide sufficient time to build a set of them while still being able to build your primary structures.

Red Alert is obviously an RTS, something that is inherently difficult to implement on a console due to the fact that it has evolved on the PC. Without a doubt I can honestly say that, more than any other game in the genre to date, Red Alert 3 does the best job of being accessible to the console in terms of control without being overcomplicated or dumbing down the strategy aspect.

The end result is a port of a PC game that is the truest to the father game, with the only difference being the radial interface. Every aspect of the game is kept intact.

The game is also breathtakingly beautiful, in more ways then one. In true Red Alert fashion the cutscenes between missions are campy and over the top featuring women in scantly clad uniforms and lines meant to be comical. Its a great example of a game in the truest sense, its not meant to be taken seriously, often to the point of poking fun at itself. The graphics are also incredibly beautiful for a strategy game, where at any one point in time there may be 50+ units on the screen... Which this game handles well.

Its a breath of fresh air in a sea of games that seem to think fun is beneath them. Not to mention any game which features a Japanese faction with transforming robots is awesome in my book.

The trophies for Red Alert 3 are difficult. Without a boosting partner several of the trophies will have you pulling your hair out, particularly beating all 3 campaigns on hard. This is a great trophy game to pick up if you are looking for a challenge as this plat is not a "one-night, no-skill" endeavour. There is a guide on these forums.

Gameplay: 9.5/10
-Truly a fun game. Its a wonderfully built RTS with a very nice balance and 3 varied factions.

Singleplayer: 9/10
- Red Alert 3 is not a game to be taken seriously, the singleplayer focuses heavily on the gameplay. The story is very tongue-in-cheek.

Multiplayer: 8/10
- Very well built for an RTS, particularly for a console. My only complaint is the lack of a Co-op matching pool. Invite-only Co-op means there is legwork beforehand.

Technical: 8.5/10
- A very beautiful game with a very well-built control scheme. It is truly not dumbed-down for the console.

Overall: 8.75/10 Superb