Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2

a game by Westwood
Platform: PC
Genre: Strategy/War
Editor Rating: 7/10, based on 1 review
User Rating: 6.9/10 - 11 votes
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See also: Command & Conquer Games, Red Alert Games

Overview

America invaded. The President under attack. Russian armies are on the move again. Now is the time for war, now is the time to strike back. Would you take the helm of the allied forces and fight back with the remnants of the American army, seeking to take back the US homeland from the evil Russian invaders? Or would you become the Soviet commander, fighting for Premier Romonov, backed by the psychic commander Yuri, seeking only the glory of the USSR?

And thus we have Red Alert 2, one of the latest releases from Westwood Studios and the newest title in the Command & Conquer family of titles. Red Alert 2 is a Real Time Strategy (RTS) game created by the company which practically invented the concept and it more than lives up to its predecessor's reputation.

With both a detailed single player campaign and some very fun options for multiplayer, including the World Domination Tour created for Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun, Red Alert 2 gives a rich and expansive RTS experience.

Gameplay, Controls, Interface

Far and away Red Alert 2’s strongest category, the gameplay will not disappoint. Gone are the problems with tank rushes and engineer raids, as Westwood has decided to focus on ‘balancing high,’ a fascinating principle. It relies on strong units that can deal out large amounts of damage, preventing the original problems with tank and engineer rushes. In fact, they are so confident in this concept that they’ve included a host of powerful combination attacks, rather than just the old engineer rush, that would have unbalanced any other game of this type.

Like a normal RTS game, Red Alert 2 relies on the creation of a base with a series of preset buildings. As these buildings are created, they serve any number of uses -- from building units to providing new technology with which to wage war. The way this is handled is a slight disappointment from games of this genre, as the basic rules governing creation of buildings and units are the same as they’ve always been in Command & Conquer, with little innovation.

The single player experience in Red Alert 2 consists of a series of 12 missions for both Allies and Soviets, with each mission having a Full Motion Video (FMV) cut-scene, which explains the backstory and the next mission. These FMVs are grea,t in my opinion, as they portray the story purely from the side of the game you’re playing (allied or soviet), and none of the story relies on having played from the opposite side. If you only want to play through the Allied missions, everything will make sense.

Graphics

Following Gameplay, Red Alert 2’s graphics are its second strongest element. Each unit has a lot of detail and, although only in 2D at 16bit color, they are highly detailed and move very well. Combine that with maps that are wonderful to look at in and of themselves and you’ve got a graphically impressive title.

Audio

Although the sound effects in Red Alert 2 don’t have the sheer mass of such games as Starcraft, they do have a relatively unique character. Each unit has a distinctive series of sounds, many of which are obviously faction specific, from the eerie sounds of the psychic trooper to the southern drawl of the Rocketeer commandos.

Red Alert’s soundtrack is entirely too appropriate for the missions, strong and dramatic for the allies, and grim and determined for the soviets. The two major problems I found with the soundtrack were its repetitive nature and complete lack of any action specific music, such as battle music that heightens as the fight grows more intense.

System Requirements

Miniumim: PII 266mhz, Win95/98/NT4.0 with Service Pack 3.0 installed, 64MB of RAM, 4x 32bit CD-ROM, 350MB HD Space, 2MB Video Card w/16-bit Color.

Multiplayer: Two player -- 56kpbs modem, TCP/IP Connection, or IPX LAN. 3-8 Players -- P450, 128MB RAM.

Reviewed On: AMD K6/2 400mhz, Win98, 64MB RAM, 4GB HD, Diamond Viper V700U, Creative Labs Soundblaster AWE 64, 24x CD-ROM.

Relation To Previous Installments

Without a doubt, Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 does everything that Tiberian Sun should have, but didn’t. It shines, it sparkles, it destroys even the toughest of stains. With vastly improved graphics, enhanced gameplay, and a far easier interface, Red Alert 2 is definitely the most advanced Command & Conquer title ever produced.

Room For Improvement

Unfortunately, the same gameplay that makes this the best Command & Conquer title ever, is also its greatest hindrance. Although certain bugs in the balance of forces have been resolve, nothing has been done to change the basic feel of the game. There isn’t any innovation in the areas of building or unit production and ‘superweapons’ still take minutes to charge and function like one shot weapons.

Bottom Line

Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 is probably one of the most entertaining RTS titles I’ve played all year. I came, I saw, I saved Washington, DC from certain destruction. Although the gameplay hasn’t changed much from the original, the updated graphics and the resolution of minor bugs make this a wonderfully enjoyable title.

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