|System: PC, X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA LA||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 28, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1 (12 online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Derek Hidey
Command & Conquer has become a solid contender in the world of competitive multiplayer RTS gaming. Realizing this, Electronic Arts has been hard at work continuing the series' many faces, one of the most popular being Red Alert. Moreover, this third installment harnesses all of the unique characteristics that make Command & Conquer games stand out and then takes them to the next level.
The premise is simple: the Soviet Union is losing ground to the Allies. To help their cause, the Soviets once again rely on time travel, this time to eliminate Albert Einstein. With Einstein out of the picture, the Allies' technology is far less advanced and nuclear technology doesn't exist. However, altering the timeline in their favor comes at a great cost and brings rise to a different threat in the Empire of the Rising Sun. At this point, each campaign plays out like a battle-royal full of cheesy dialogue and acting.
Red Alert 3 boasts some impressive visuals on the PC. While it lacks the visual scaling abilities of games like Supreme Commander or Sins of a Solar Empire, its charm isn't in how many units can be squeezed onto the screen at once. Instead, the game relies on its own unique and quirky art design and style. Exaggerated and ridiculous units are both detailed and colorful, making Red Alert 3 stand out against the backdrop of RTS games attempting to provide realistic visuals.
While very colorful and vibrant, Red Alert 3 isn't breaking any ground in the way of graphics. It's actually just barely on par with what most games are capable of achieving. Nevertheless, realism isn't, and never was, what the Red Alert series was ever attempting to simulate. The ability to run the game on less powerful computers is always an advantage, especially when playing online. It is important to note that Red Alert 3 is in no way an ugly game. Its style is simply unique and interesting, which may or may not be appealing.
The controls are pretty straight forward for an RTS game, and Red Alert veterans should be right at home with the way things work in Red Alert 3. Selecting units, issuing orders, creating control groups, etc., are fluid and easy to manage. There is the ability to zoom the camera both in and out, but zooming out seems almost pointless, since it barely goes out any farther than its default setting.
One of Red Alert 3's most notable features is the ability to play through the single-player campaign with a friend. Every mission is setup to be played with an ally. If you choose to play by yourself, however, an A.I. ally will step in, which isn't too bad. It helps that you have basic control over the A.I. without having to micromanage units and resources. For example, you can tell your ally to attack a specific position or target, or have them defend an area. Once the issue has been ordered, the A.I. determines the specifics. So, while playing solo is definitely a way to go, joining up with a friend or random stranger makes for a much more fulfilling campaign experience, especially when playing on the harder settings.
Unfortunately, the A.I. is one of the least impressive parts of Red Alert 3. There are a definite number of pathing bugs and glitches that result in units getting stuck running in place against edges. Sea units seem to have the most trouble getting around, getting stuck on the edges of land and spinning in circles. While these issues are certainly fixable through the release of patches, they can be extremely frustrating because of how often they occur. And, when you're relying on an A.I. ally to follow simple attack/defend orders, the last thing you need is for those units to get stuck on some corner while you're left to fend for yourself.