Red Alert 3 is a fantastic game. Released more than ten years ago, it still surprises and captures imagination. It has excellent gameplay, some decent quality of voice acting, famous in-game short videos, very known and memorable soundtrack and of course particular traits of any Command & Conquer game: harvesters, engineers, capturing buildings and repairing bridges, global abilities and micro-management.
Let me start from the very beginning. Red Alert 3 starts shortly after the events of Red Alert 2 but for some reason is not directly tied to the events of the previous part in the series. It still tells a story of an alternative past, where Soviet Union fought with Alliance, adds new faction – the Empire, which combines ultra-technological units with ancient tactics, has a campaign, allowing you to see each of three sides of a conflict and gives you an opportunity to try all of three factions in multiplayer – although network services are not active, you can still play the game against artificial intelligence.
The strongest part of every Command & Conquer game is units and Red Alert 3 is not an exception from this rule. All of them are balanced, very well combined with each other, have very useful abilities or alternative attacks and can be trained for almost every situation. Game designers from EA Los Angeles did their job right and adopted the legacy of Westwood Studios in the right manner – all of the squads from Red Alert 3 are felt identical to the armies from the previous parts in the series, even harvesters and super units, which turned out to be absolutely different (although some players still miss Yuri super unit from Red Alert 2). All troops are needed here – some of them are good against infantry, but weak against heavily armored vehicles, while others do incredible amount of damage to all kinds of machines but barely harm the infantry.
All of them can be divided into three main categories: aerial, naval and the ground ones, and are used for different purposes. For instance, some small vehicles of Soviet or Allies are excellent against airborne targets but can’t do any damage to marine or ground units. Similarly, Soviet’s dreadnought can deal a lot of damage to ground targets but is helpless against squads attacking from the air. If you want to win in this game, you need to combine all types of troops and send them into the battle together.
The only exception from this rule is super units. Tanya, Natasha or Yuriko can destroy the opponent’s base on their own, without the help of any other troops in the game. Yuriko turned out to be the strongest and the best hero in the game. Not only her battle cry can kill all infantry in the certain radius around her, but she can also can hit airborne targets, unlike Tanya and Natasha, who don’t seem to be able to do that. In addition to that, Yuriko destroys buildings faster than any other super hero in the game – it’s a pure pleasure to send her to the opponent’s base and then, avoiding the turrets, ruin all key buildings to win the game afterwards.
Tanya is weaker than other two super units – she actually needs a close contact with a vehicle or a building to destroy it and easily becomes shot before that. Natasha is capable of devastating opponent’s bases too but requires more time for this and can’t do anything with flying units and always becomes an easy aim for them.
Other squads are special too. A helicopter, which freezes things, a huge tank, capable of overrunning opponent’s vehicles, huge bombers deploying troops on the battlefield and bombing everything around them. The Empire has transforming units, which can switch between two states – for instance, in one of them it’s a light vehicle capable of fighting infantry very effectively, in another it’s just a jet aircraft for fighting opposite flying units.
The Empire turned out to be the best faction overall, very fast and convenient to use. Winning, playing for them is very easy: even when you play against AI on Hard difficulty the game does not create many obstacles for you.
Soviets is another faction to use, very fast and with many tactics. Allies turned out to be the slowest in development but still are very effective, if you know how to use the strong points of this side of conflict.
Allies have technologies of teleportation, which allow deploying three or four tanks and one or two laser cannons to your opponent’s base to destroy efficiently at least part of it. Heavy bombers will finish the ruination and the game may finish in your favor as well.
Soviets have a technology of complete invulnerability of all of its vehicles in certain area and very strong dirigibles, which can destroy all of your opponent’s buildings if you create enough of them. However, it’s much easier to train helicopters – they are very fast, efficient against ground targets and, accompanied by fighter aircrafts, can demolish all of the targets.
The Empire have multipurpose units, which are equally good against all types of the vehicles (flying, ground, naval ones), infantry, which can do a lot of tricks and of course Yuriko, who wipes out the opponent’s base entirely just in a few minutes. Soviets have artillery, Allies – laser cannon, which acts as an artillery too; the Empire has its own counterpart of it. All of the factions have naval units, flying and ground ones.
All typical traits of previous games in the series are still here. You can still organize a zerg-rush by tanks or send engineers to capture your opponent’s buildings – now they are yours! Your opponent however can do the same, so you have to install turrets early in the game everywhere, just to make sure it won’t happen (and protect yourself from terror drones of Soviets, which can destroy a harvester and slow down your development of the base).
You can do a lot of other things, for which C&C games are loved. How about building twenty dirigibles and ordering to visit the enemy’s base? How about building a dreadnought, which missiles can destroy buildings far away from the sea? There are plenty of options of course. By the way, super weapons are still available, but their power is highly reduced – now they are needed to clean the base from generators and other small buildings.
Huge thanks goes to level designers, who managed to create maps with many paths and directions of attacks. You can use marine units in some of them, aerial and ground in others, but their variety and variety of maps creates many different strategies, which prolong enjoyment from the game and make you return to it once again.
Speaking of it, Red Alert 3 is a very captivating game. You may spend here forty-fifty hours easily in total. The game always has something to offer and even after many (un)successful attempts you may still have a thought: “What if to build a transport vehicle, put five engineers there and send it to the opponent’s base to capture the buildings? What if to build twelve Century bombers, put sixty Javelin troopers there and send them via para-drop? What if to create tanks and deliver them to the opponent’s base by helicopters to avoid the lines of defense?” The amount of opportunities and strategies is indeed very high there.
Gameplay is typical for an average RTS game: build base, gather resources, do some kind of stuff and win the game afterwards. The sound and music are pretty functional, some melodies, including the main theme are remarkable and are easily remembered. Interface is good, typical for C&C game, but nothing special. The same is true for other traits of the product. The game leaves positive impression after all.
If you’re looking for RTS with variety of tactics, Red Alert 3 may be the product you need at the moment. Almost twelve years after it’s release, it is still good as if it were released yesterday.