The 3rd among the Command & Conquer’s Red Alert series. The last Red Alert installment was released in year 2000. Both Red Alert and Red Alert 2 were a hit, and as far as I’m concerned – Red Alert 3 is yet another hit!
The Soviets and Russians again, it’s almost always they’re assigned the role as baddies in computer games. Good guys are usually the Americans or British. I have no idea. Anyway, the story in Red Alert 3 is pretty much like that of Red Alert 2. The Soviets decided to use their Time Machine invention, to travel into the past to save their falling government.
The time travel was a success and future was glorious for the Soviet, however their change also led to the rise of a new super-power, the Empire of the Rising Sun!
The story for each faction varies, ultimately you’re leading the faction to their glory, unfolded as you accomplish each mission.
Yes, it is another C∓C game BUT it is by far the best among the C∓C series. 😀 Sure, Tiberium War and Tiberium War : Kane’s Wrath were good but I personally think Red Alert 3 (RA3) is a bunch more fun game to play.
In fact RA3 was really good, so good that I just had to finish the game and continue the fun by playing the skirmish and have online gaming sessions too, couldn’t get my ass off to write the review. 😛 Then work game in, jammed up my writing pipeline.
So anyway, back to the game – it’s fun fun fun. Yes, and unlike the other C&C where the building methods are pretty the same, the developers made a really awesome change by altering even the basics of how the structures are laid. For example, the Allieds maintain the usual [ click > build > place ] method of building structures where the structures are only placed upon completion while the Soviets use the [ click > place > build ] method where the structures’ location is set before it goes into construction.
Now the interesting faction among the structure building was the Empire (nothing to do with Star Wars) where each structure is build as a nanocore, these mobile structures will require you to move to the desired location and then deployed.
The really odd part would be how the technology are upgraded. The Allied requires you only to upgrade the construction yard’s tech to access higher level units. However if you build a structure like say a factory on an expanded base (far from construction yard) then you will have to upgrade the Command Hub (the unit used to expand base / area) before in order to access the technology.
The Empire on the other hand, requires you to upgrade all factories individually, which kinda sucks when you have to pause production just to do that. Ironically the supposedly least advanced among the race, which is the Soviet, would have the tech available to all factories regardless of where you place them.
With that aside, let’s talk about the units – those who are fans of Red Alert 2 such as myself would appreciate the retaining of the many memorable units such as Kirov Airship, Apocalypse tank, V4 Rocket Launchers, Dreadnoughts, Terror Drones, Mirage Tanks and so on…… but doesn’t it seem like the retained units are mostly from the Soviet? Yes, apparently so, the allied units are pretty much changed.
The units’ secondary abilities are really fun to use, it could be offensive, defensive, both or neither. Offensive secondary ability would be like the Empire’s harvester where it has a combat mode, or the Soviet conscripts’ molotov cocktail throwing that does damage to buildings. Defensive ability would be like Allied’s Hydrofoil where it disables enemy weaponry, or the Allied Assault Destroyer’s shield ability. Then there are units like the Soviet’s Hammer Tank where it actually does work as offensive and defensive, by using the leech beam it heals itself while the target loses health. Then there’s the NEITHER part, such as the Soviet’s Sickle where the secondary ability is to JUMP across terrain while the Bullfrog’s secondary ability is to launch infantry units into the air, useful for landing them on higher ground – looks pretty much like a circus troupe when in use. 🙂
I can’t be listing all their secondary abilities as many of them are really awesome and when well used, can turn the tides of battle. The most interesting unit has to be that of the Empire, where their units such as the Mecha Tengu and Striker VX, and even their Defender platforms actually CONVERT! Mecha Tengu would certainly remind Anime lovers of Macross (ok, to some of you it’s Robotech) where it actually transforms from a ground hovering anti-infantry to a jet. Strike VX on the other hand are chicken-like anti-air units that transforms to a helicopter mode for anti-ground purpose. 🙂 Cool eh? The Defender platform on the other hand, just converts between anti-air and anti-ground modes.
The fun doesn’t stop with just the units and structures, while going through the battles across the map, you gain points and these points can be used to unlock Top Secret Protocols with a myriad of odd-stuff like time-bomb, air-strikes, additional units, and many many more. Their abilities vary from faction to faction and can turn the tides of battle as well (It kinda reminds me of the special upgrades you have in Company of Heroes, some of you may also remember seeing such feature in C&C : Generals).
One thing I must highlight, and even PRAISE Red Alert 3 for, is their tutorial. It’s the most entertaining and most uniquely done tutorial I’ve ever played. It not just get your feet wet into the game but the comedic touch makes the lengthy tutorial not only intuitive but fun!
Graphics and Sound
Absolutely stunning – I love what they did with the water effects and the units are all very detailed, I like how even the gunfire lights up the body of the unit when firing. The whole game itself is so colorful that many actually commented it’s cartoonish (if there is such a word) which I totally disagree as I’m absolutely bored with dull-colored RTS. 🙂
Most graphic cards, like even the HD4670 could do well at high detail settings, according to others who tried it. I tried the GTX280 on full details at 1680 x 1050 resolution, and I rarely get lags. On 9800GTX+, lowering the AA level to 2x or 0x helps a lot. So ideally HD4670 and similar cards would work fine even on 1680 x 1050 with high details, and would only lag when more units and action are on screen.
While the sound of units and explosions aren’t something I’d put my focus on, I must say that the unit speeches are interesting. Ok well, actually it’s only the speech of the Soviet units that are interesting. 😀 The rest are pretty stale. The Sputnik unit from the Soviet reminds me of Borat.
Soundtrack was awesome as usual, the song at the main menu is rather catchy despite having a Russian touch. Then of course there’s the ever popular RA2 track titled “Hell March” that’s retouched. Unfortunately there’s no Play List like what we had on Red Alert 2. 🙁 Overall good soundtrack, just not as memorable as Red Alert 2.
And what’s more interesting about this game is the HOLLYWOOD quality cast – with hotties such as Autumn Reeser, Vanessa Branch, Gemma Atkinson, Jenny McCarthy, Ivana Miličević. And it’s not just the babes, let’s not forget the outstanding male casts such as Tim Curry, J. K. Simmons, George Takei and Jonathan Pryce, just to name a few. 🙂 I love the cut-scenes, the Soviet campaign had Ivana Miličević accompanying you almost all the way, for the Allied campaigns – you have the sweet Gemma Atkinson. Unfortunately Kelly Hu was chosen for Empire campaigns, which I think is far from being as attractive as that unknown girl wearing a sexy kimono in a number of the cut-scenes.
Overall – I’m impressed, I enjoyed all the cut-scenes. It’s good, the story isn’t exactly logical but heck, it’s entertaining and that’s what counts in my book! The Empire’s cut-scenes were rather serious, I mean it’s DEAD SERIOUS kinda thing. WHY SO SERIOUS!??!?! 😀 It’s RA3! It’s supposed to be fun!
Network / Online Gaming
While logging into EA’s network was rather slow, I must say that I love the interface. the interface is far more flexible than any C&C network gaming interface so far.
Online gaming experience, despite using Malaysia’s notorious Streamyx network, was actually very playable. 😀
My only complaint is that there are no 8-player maps. WTH!?!?! I have no 4 vs 4 maps?!?! What were they thinking!?!?! Yes, as you can see I’m not pleased with this. Other than that, I have no further complaints.
Before we conclude, I must highlight that Red Alert 3 allows co-operation mode for all the campaign missions! I know, I could’ve highlighted this point earlier but I decided to keep it in the NETWORK section for relevancy sake.
See, in all the campaign missions in RA3 – you enter the battlefield with a co-commander that you can command and coordinate with, which is something really different from all other C&C games. In hard mode, the co-commander could get in trouble sometimes and in some cases, looking your co-commander could end up being a loss for you as well.
I did manage to hold out and win even with the co-commander wiped out, however in some missions – it’s impossible to win without the co-commander. In fact, the co-commander is sometimes of an annoyance, especially when they end up failing to help by defending properly – that’s where you could invite a competent (or not) friend to join you in the game instead of relying on some occasionally dumb AI.
The campaigns in HARD mode are generally medium / easy in my book while occasionally there are missions that really test your skills to the hilt. I tried medium mode but I found it too easy.
It’s a great game! I have no regrets buying this game and certainly think that it refreshes the Command & Conquer scene once again!
PC Specifications Used
The computer setup used for this review.
|Processor||Intel Core2Duo E7200 Overclocked @ 3.61ghz|
|Graphic Card||ASUS ENGTX280 TOP 1GB|
|RAM||2x 2GB OCZ DDR2 PC2-8500 Reaper HPC Edition|
|Cooler||Sunbeamtech Core-Contact Freezer Heatsink|
|Monitor||20″ Dell Ultra-sharp Wide-screen LCD|
|Operating System||Windows Vista Home Basic 32bit|
*I’m sorry for going MIA for a while, my computer for article writing and publication acted up a few days back and ………… you know……… *