Quick Review: Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3

Unless you've been living under some rock, you'd know Red Alert 3 was released recently. If you know me, you'll also know that I'm a fan of the EA LA age of Command and Conquer games - but let's face it, after the abominations that were C&C2 and RA2, any improvement I would've seen as a godsend.

Red Alert 3 turns up the craziness a few notches - loads of units are amphibious - and naval warfare is BAAAAACK. If there's anything that I notice - it's that the scissors-paper-stone philosophy that's been creeping around RTSes is a lot more pronounced in RA3. I haven't felt the need to keep such a varied unit base in a C&C game before, of course that could be my skills improving a little bit - but there's no denying there's a greater focus on micro, with nearly every unit having some skill that get be triggered by the 'F' key - which using correctly will get you out of a lot of sticky situations.

The campaign is rather short - 9 missions each side, no intertwining storyline, no canonical ending (apparently) since all the sides seem to just kill everyone else at the end of the game, which is reminescent of the Generals story, where nothing seems related. That being said, they did hide a few pleasant surprises in the story - and if you look around and pick pieces up here and there, you can build a timeline of the missions - since some things don't conflict with each other - but it doesn't help that there is no canonical ending, since they all end similarly: death to all the enemies. (If history is any indication, the Allies ending is usually the one considered canonical. Heh.) I would've liked a intertwining campaign, but hey, the missions are fun, and you get to play with the 3 commando units of the 3 factions at some point. (Not to mention a certain Empire of the Rising Sun campaign-only epic unit.)

They've also introduced the concept of disables/suppression where certain units can immobilize or disable other units (and sometimes make them more vulnerable to damage) - which stops you from relying too much on small numbers of powerful units, or at the very least, make you pay attention to the battlefield.

Me being me, you know which side I favour. :D Empire of the Rising Sun FTW!

The Empire is the only side that doesn't have an airfield. :D And this is why:

And at the press of the 'F' key later:

(The screenshots have been downscaled from 1680 by 1050 to 1280 by 800 to save space - no reason to put super large screens to make a stupid point, and yes, I did lower the shadow quality - although it was unnecessary, I was too lazy to change it back.)

I don't think any C&C fan should pass up on this instalment, the skirmish mode is fun (with the 3 varying AI per side to keep you interested for slightly longer than usual with their varied strategies - you still kick their asses though). The fact that there are three locations units can be in (air, land and sea) although makes you plan a little more with what units to bring around and which units to keep - which makes both attacking and defending and interesting endeavour.