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Friday | December 9, 2016
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Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 (PC)

Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 (PC)

Command & Conquer has been one of the most successful real time strategy franchises of all time and with the latest Red Alert incarnation in the series Electronic Arts have created a fun and entertaining strategy game which is sure to appeal to a huge audience.

Red Alert was always a little wacky with the premise of time travel allowing various time continuum storylines to take centre stage. This time the Soviet Union are at the brink of defeat by the Allies and a trio of their leaders travel back in time to kill Einstein. Long term fans of the series will instantly recognise the homage to the original game when Einstein bent time to assassinate Hitler. Unfortunately when the soviets return they discover that altering events in time has rather serious repercussions.

This time around the wealth of acting talent is incredible with the soviets being portrayed by A list actors Tim Curry, Andrew Divoff and Peter Stormare. Electronic arts deserve special commendation for the professional video editing and presentation, you would think you are watching a movie, outside the contexts of a computer game. The injection of humour is also very appealing.

The three campaigns let you play from the viewpoints of the Soviets, The Allies and the Empire Of The Rising Sun … a new found Japanese empire led by the actor who portrayed Sulu (George Takei) in Star Trek. Samurai robots, ninja’s and even high tech manga style women in skirts lead their weird and wonderful forces.

The single player campaigns are strong with a clear sense of tongue in cheek and interestingly EA have allowed these to be played with a friend in Cooperative mode. You control your own forces while your ally does the same, but you pool from the same overall resources. Playing with a human is catered for with voice chat support as well as in game marker drops to draw attention to key positions for joint attacks. Playing with an AI controlled computer ally is beneficial as they do work with you well and you can issue commands for them to head to a specific location or to attack and hold positions. On a regular basis I would have the computer protect a key position (such as a base) while I handled the attacking decisions on the enemy outposts.

The naval side of the game is strong with some great units available such as technologically advanced dolphins, carriers, battleships and submarines. Many units have amphibious abilities so you can quickly move between land and ground which opens up many tactical options. May I also say that the water effects in this game with a capable modern day graphics card are nothing short of stunning!

All in all the game play mechanic hasn’t changed much from the past (and this is really no bad thing to be honest) and the commands will all be familiar to anyone who has played a C&C game in the past. There is also a clear sense of progression as you will not unlock all the units and special commands until the very end of the mission campaigns. If you are a fan of more story driven strategic games rather than the open ended nature of Supreme Commander then this will be sure to appeal.

The economy in Red Alert 3 has been fine tuned over the last release as you can now only assign one collector to each refinery and each can only be tied to one resource deposit, this ensures that early game victories are not possible and I feel it makes for a more progressive style gameplay, rather than a simple rush for refinery building then mass unit creation.

In regards to strategy balancing and overall game play, EA have achieved a very good balance between the three factions and it is clear that extensive play testing went on behind the scenes before public release. It is probably one of the best balanced EA Strategy games I have played in my long standing career reviewing their games.

I briefly mentioned some of the cast members earlier on, but it really deserves special mention because this has to be one of the most accomplished movie directions with a computer game to date. Tim Curry is superlative in his portrayal as the Russian leader with an accent dripping humour. J.K. Simmons masterfully takes control of an attack now, think later US president and Stormare is just absolutely marvellous as a crazed and egotistical commander. For the geeks amongst us who like the drool worthy ladies, EA have no redundancy of coverage with actresses such as Gemma Atkinson parading in a short skirt with cleavage clearly on display. Yum.

The graphics are extremely attractive and during testing I was able to maintain a steady framerate at 1920×1200 via an XFX 280 GTX with everything maxed. Some of the shader and debris effects are classleading in an RTS title, granted there is a certain comic style to the units but it works extremely well within the context of the game. Before finishing the review, I also tested the game with an ATI 4870 and I experienced no performance or stability issues, this game is certainly polished in all areas. The frame rate is locked to 30, which is a reoccuring design decision by EA to obviously keep tearing to a minimum, but it is a shame they don’t let you turn that off as I would like to measure performance with various hardware.

The audio is a nice mixture of rock based guitar riffs to drive home the atmosphere and pace and  composer Frank Klepacki has returned from previous titles to help inject a high octane overtone. Bear in mind that Frank was the man responsible for Red Alert’s "Hell March" and you begin to see that EA took this game very seriously.

Red Alert 3 is a great strategy game and while it doesn’t contain the intense strategic elements of a title such as Supreme Commander, it will appeal to a wider audience as the units are more accessible and the game play is exceptionally well paced. The movie elements just add to the overall feeling of quality and I am confident that this game will appeal to almost everyone who has enjoyed a Red Alert Game in the past. If you fancy a strategy game to entertain and perhaps even involve a friend then the single player and multiplayer aspects will certainly not disappoint.

Gameplay

93/100

Follows the same mechanic as before, but the single player cooperative mode is a breath of fresh air. Extremely fun.

Graphics
90/100

Some of the nicest water renditions I can remember and the shader effects are top class.

Sound
90/100

Great score by Frank Klepacki and high quality sound effects for the action.

Value
93/100
Three decent sized single player campaigns and superb multiplayer replayability.
Overall
(not an average)
94/100

Extremely polished with great long term playability for strategy fans.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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