Command & Conquer: Red Alert review
C&C Red Alert is a real time strategy game (RTS) developed by Westwood Studios in the 90’ s. After the successful Command & Conquer game, they made a new game using same formula and engine but expanded with sea/river warfare and new lore. They chose for an alternate history scenario.
C&C Red Alert is going to be remastered soon. The remaster is awesome news indeed.
The game nicely applies a formula with same 3 key points previously applied in C&C:
- Well done RTS gameplay in a great campaign.
- Cool CGI videos displayed between fights.
- Good OST that fit nicely in the game.
There is also a nice mix of units for warfare. Regular infantry, commando unit, armor, ranger, airplanes, helicopters, submarine, ships, mine layers, nukes… and other weird units. Just name it.
But this game adds some things to the mix, on it’s own, to make it just awesome:
- Skirmirsh mode (non-campaign single battles).
- Scenario editor (it’s great, it let’s you to customize units and tweak stuff).
- Scripted events ingame adds some flavour to campaign scenarios (and helps the AI harass you).
There are some difficult missions, which is great. You got to prepare yourself for attacks from AI.
The game is truly a gem but it isn’t flawless. There are few design flaws affecting gameplay:
- Infantry is unbalanced. It has firepower and it has its uses (rocket soldiers as AA), but it’s defenseless and too easy to counter (refer to Appendix for details).
- Tanks, with their AP ammo, are slightly weaker against infantry when it’s proned. But proned infantry is vulnerable to be crushed by tracked vehicles (which includes tanks).
- Air units can’t scout map. IMO helicopters “should” be able, but can’t.
- Game requires some micro management to units during combat. It’s needed both to deal against inf and to avoid inf to get crushed by tanks (evade key). Also micro should be done with light tanks to deal against heavy tanks.
- Every air unit needs it’s own building. 1 air unit, 1 building. Which means a lot of base space and time. Relatively, of course.
- Videos look very dated, they need a remaster.
Game is still more than enjoyable. It’s warfare RTS in its greatness.
Why to play?
If you like real time play and tactical games, this is for you. If you are into electronic music or warfare themes, this could be for you too. If you never tried RTS but you like MOBA games like LOL, then you should give a try, it’s a fun genre.
You want other reason to play this game? Here you go, most epic song you’re going to find on a RTS. Hell march:
How to acquire
Red Alert was released free by EA. You can legally download it from anywhere. I recommend unofficial patching it with RA download and patcher. The same installer can be used to download the vanilla game (original CDs) with expansions.
Alternatively, you can use unofficial installers for Red Alert: PortableRA. The installer adds the game campaign/maps/videos with official/unofficial patches and extra content.
Red Alert is also bundled along other C&C titles. Search for “Command & Conquer The Ultimate Collection” in Origin if you are interested in all the franchise.
Important news: Electronic Arts could be developing a remaster of C&C and C&C Red Alert games!
Version / Platform
I’m reviewing C&C Red Alert (released ‘96) for DOS/Windows, which is basically the same game as the newer release for Origin platform. I recommend playing that or fanmade remakes that just patch game.
There are two expansions for the vanilla game (called Counterstrike and Aftermath). Those are included in the Origin release. The expansions just add more scenarios, MP maps and units, so it’s not really relevant.
There is an improved PS1 version, called C&C Red Alert Retaliation. This version has both expansions and extra content, like videos. That content can be found today on fanmade remakes and can be also added to Origin/CD game in the Previously mentioned RA patcher.
Some fan made remakes are OpenRA and PortableRA:
- I didn’t enjoy OpenRA because I just like more the original, but part of community is playing it. Is a new engine and, last time I check, seemed oriented to MP.
- PortableRA seems more like a installer/patch, seems good to me.
Finally, we could have a remaster soon (same game but updated engine and graphics). That would be amazing and a good reason to go to Origin and buy it. I hope they respect OST and include the scenario editor again.
Games like Red Alert
Here I’ll list few games that apply same RTS concepts:
- Command & Conquer. The previous iteration is as awesome as Red Alert.
- Dune 2. This is the game that set the RTS genre as we know it.
- Warcraft Orcs & Humans. Fantasy theme, great story/lore. First game from Blizzard, were everything started.
- Warcraft 2. Continues the saga, it’s a balanced game. This time there are no dungeon scenarios, but they introduced sea and air units.
- Starcraft. Sci-fi theme and excellent multi-player.
- Tzar. Unknown but good fantasy game. It has got sidequests and heroes.
There are other RTS games that evolved distinctly, so they’re worth noting:
- Age of empires 2. Age advancing acts like a tier and has a notable impact in RTS game mechanics.
- Empire Earth. Played like AOE, but spans in a much longer time, like Civilization games.
- Settlers 2. More on the strategy side than tactical, as units act on their own.
- Warcraft 3. This game introduced in-game cinematics and a powerful scenario editor. A fan made scenario (DOTA) is the predecessor of MOBA genre.
After playing many times to C&C Red Alert, I can only recommend it. Missions are varied and more than “destroy the enemy base”. There are many units to use and Allies are different from Soviet. Game art is good (a bit aged but still fine).
Counters against Infantry
- Any explosive ammo or warheads
- 155mm artillery.
- 200mm cruiser cannons.
- nukes 💀.
- Machine guns:
- pillbox turret.
- ranger M60.
- APC M113.
- Yak machinegun.
- Hind chaingun.
- Colt M1911 pistol (Tanya).
- flamethrower infantry.
- flame towers.
- Tesla weapons:
- shock infantry.
- tesla coil.
- tesla tank.
- AP mines.
- Crushing (by any tracked vehicle).
- VX gas.
- Dog bites. Well, if they manage to reach target, it’s an awesome insta-kill. Sadly, dogs are very weak and bugged.
Now you’ll understand that this is an armor vehicle focused game. 😂