Red Alert 3: Tim Curry will take your apple pie
Updated: Jan 7, 2019
I have a soft spot for the Command and Conquer: Red Alert series, they were fun silly romps though increasingly ridiculous missions with weird and wonderful units. Red Alert 2 in my mind was the peak of the series where each faction had their own unique units and styles. The comedy was spot on with the right balance between the goofy and the serious. It took me a lot of persuading to get Red Alert 3 for a number of reasons, the biggest one being that the now defunct EA Los Angeles would not be able to live up to the high marks of the original studio; Westwood (who EA killed off five years prior to RA3). I am happy to say that I was wrong with that assumption; it is a good game regardless of its predecessor.
The game opens with the Soviet Union on the verge of defeat by the Allied Nations, Premier Anatoly Cherdenko (the one and only Tim Curry) and General Nikolai Krukov (Andrew Divoff) are preparing to flee the country when Cherdenko leads Krukov into a underground lab where Dr. Gregor Zelinsky( the wonderfully hammy Peter Stormare) has invented a time machine. With this device the Premier zaps back in time and kills Albert Einstein which changed the timeline. This change turns the tables on the Allied Nations but creates a new threat in the form of the Empire of the Rising Sun from Japan. Killing Einstein also removes all the weapons the man invented for both the Soviet and Allies from the timeline. As a result war and chaos once again consumes the world.
Please keep in mind that if you are expecting a realistic RTS you are getting the wrong game, this is a game series that had weather control devices, time machines and giant electric samurai robots of death, even the first Red Alert had time travel in it! Red Alert 3 takes everything up to 11 with said killer robots, evil psychic schoolgirls and laser cannons firing from the Mount Rushmore monument.
However despite the creative units (Empire of the Rising Sun has some of the most imaginative units of all the factions) I feel that the game did itself a disservice by killing Einstein because most of the Allied and Soviet units, super weapons and buildings are less interesting and closer to the realm of realism which makes them less memorable. Red Alert 3 has an increased emphasis on navel combat as you can build certain structures on water and more units are amphibious, I like this change as navel combat in RA2 was never really the focus and as a result was not the best. RA3 has great combat and the versatility of the units make the game play unique to its predecessor. Some of the annoying elements like ore mining have been streamlined to prevent long wait times between return trips by having the ore mines always be next to the refineries. You will in theory have a reliable amount of money pouring all the time. If you have played any RTS you will know what you would need to do, micromanage your units and building so you can crush your opponent. The game suffers from wonky path finding which lead to some sad instances when I have a small armada stuck running into a wall because they cannot find the rout on their own, or my massive assault was foiled by a dastardly increase in level terrain.
Please note that RA3 does not have multiplayer anymore as EA has shut down the servers. I cannot comment about that aspect.
The acting and writing is all very campy and over the top, but everyone is having fun. I love Tim Curry and George Takei every time they are on screen just because of the sheer charisma those two have. Everyone is a stereotype of different degrees and everyone has fun with it. The trouble with this is that RA2 had a balance, the mostly straight-faced performances of RA2 made the stupid things funny, that is not to say RA3 is not funny, quite the contrary. It is still funny but with the game being aware of its predecessor’s legacy it becomes too silly and too campy which in turn leads to jokes that either fall flat or become irritating. The fact that the game knows that everyone is a cartoon character there are more unfunny jokes as there is no straight man that the jokes and wackiness can bounce off on.
The graphics are what one would expect from a RA game, colourful and cartoonish, the units and buildings are distinct and easy to pick out. The FMV segments look good today even if the CGI is a little off at points. However the videos do not focus on this a lot and is not too distracting.
Red Alert 3, while flawed is a great send off to the series. The game respects and loves the series, it might have misunderstood some of the elements the series had but it does not detract from the simple fact that Red Alert 3 is a fun time.
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