Genre: Real-Time Strategy
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA LA
Release Date: October 28, 2008
After all these years, it is nice to see that the Red Alert series still has its tongue firmly planted in its cheek. Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 has been eagerly awaited by fans for some time now, and though we only got a taste of the multiplayer so far, things seem to be living up to their expectations. While it makes use of a more modern interface and some control enhancements alongside its shiny new engine, underneath it all, it still has the tried-and-true gameplay that fans should expect from the series. Red Alert 3 is a game of war, only complete with Japanese schoolgirls who double as psionic warriors and war bears that maul enemy infantry.
The multiplayer we participated in contained two maps from the full game, allowing up to four players to face off against each other. There are three fully fleshed-out factions to choose from, with the Allies and the Soviets still clashing with each other as well as with the series newcomer, Empire of the Rising Sun, a Japanese faction with a taste for high tech and pop culture. Don't let their cute schoolgirl unit fool you because backing her up are probably a squad of ninjas supported by mechs who can transform into jets.
The actual gameplay doesn't differ too far from the formula that's already been established in the series. Each player must build a base, power it using power stations, and keep the money flowing in from refineries. In a more modern twist, the control scheme has been overhauled in many ways. Players can set things up so that right-click gives orders instead of the traditional left-click method that the series has hosted so far, but other things, such as being able to set up rally points for new units, have been tweaked to work much more effectively. In a nod to other popular RTS titles, Red Alert 3 has tabs that allow the player to access and queue up unit production regardless of where they are in the battlefield.
Many units have special abilities that can be used to great effect, from kamikaze tactics to the ability to launch infantry into the air only to parachute back down into battle elsewhere. Some units may sacrifice protection for reload speed, so the tradeoff must be considered carefully, while others, such as the ability to burrow into the ground to avoid getting run over by a tank, are a much easier choice to make when just such a thing is about to occur. These abilities aren't incredibly powerful, but simply knowing when to use them can significantly turn the tide of a battle.
What this doesn't describe is how odd and fun the multiplayer portion of Red Alert 3 actually is. While bread-and-butter ideas still hold true, such as tanks fighting each other while garrisoned infantry take potshots at passing units, your mind has to switch gears when you see a parade of Soviet war bears parachute down from the skies to decimate a squad of your infantry. Nothing in the game is truly realistic, which adds to the entertainment element. When you have tesla tanks electrocuting ninjas encroaching on your base while a single giant robotic mech is tearing up your refinery, you begin to see the appeal of the title's over-the-top action.
Red Alert 3 is visually impressive, with a large use of saturated color to make things pop. This not only makes it easy to distinguish friendly units from the enemy at a mere glance, but also distances the game from falling into the trap of everything being a shade of grey or brown. Special effects such as fire, smoke, and bolts of electricity add even more personality to the mix. Essentially, the graphics match the gameplay: far from realistic and in the most enjoyable way possible.
At least from a multiplayer standpoint, Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 seems to be hitting all of the right targets. The same tried-and-true gameplay from the series has been left intact, while augmented with a more modern take on player control as well as a vibrant new engine. Pitched battles with odd and unique units peppered among more traditional tanks and infantry are common, which is a series norm that the newest entry of does not disappoint. With a release date looming, Red Alert 3 looks to be all set to make a strong entry into the genre like few other titles can.
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