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Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 Review

publisher: EA
developer: Westwood Studios
genre: Strategy

P266, 64MB RAM, 350MB HDD, 4X CD-ROM
ESRB rating: T

release date: Sep 23, 00
» All About Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 on ActionTrip

November 07, 2000
Nikola "Bunny" Zakic

Huge media campaigns promoting computer games almost became a tradition. From the day the programmers announce they're working on some supposedly revolutionary game all to the day that its actually published, we have to suffer a storm of previews, interviews, promises and screenshots which inflame our imagination and give players something to discuss in the forums, and provide hits for gaming sites. Still, apart from all this the media campaign always makes you feel like you're trying to watch a movie at the cinema, while somebody from the back row keeps commenting on the movie, and revealing key points of the plot.

Well, just like that back-row bugger, Westwood announced some six months ago a lot of details on the sequel to Red Alert, the game that became a synonym to RTS. All the juicy details that made my mouth water made me write a detailed preview including the complete list of unites and buildings, the entire plot and features. As I look now at C&C: Red Alert 2 in front of me, I remain in a way indifferent, for it's just what I expected it to be; no more, no less. Westwood fulfilled all the promises it gave; yet I would have appreciated if they kept some features in the dark in order to pleasantly surprise their fans. This way, Red Alert 2 has all the elements of a fun and captivating game, still with a d'jà vu about it.

The plot concentrates on the hypothetical conflict between the allied forces and the Red Army, and their battles in America. I'll leave out the details because we already discussed them, and if you missed the article, well, here it goes here.

The game uses the same engine as C&C: Tiberium Sun. The 2D graphics engine and for that matter, everything it borrowed from Tiberium Sun isn't bad at all, because all that allowed the game to be published this quickly. The game also features some novelties that completely separate it from the rest of the serial.

The interface suffered drastic changes. It's the most comprehensive one I ever saw in the C&C serial. Four separate tabs allow faster construction of units and vehicles. This will speed up base development and gives you time to concentrate on tactics. This game also introduced the ADVANCED COMMAND BAR. Which remains sort of a mystery to me. It lets you build formations, set waypoints, and o some other things using the mouse instead of the keyboard, but I personally found it quite useless.

One thing that confused me was that they actually included two tutorial missions in the game. The best thing about the C&C serial was that they are easy to use and that intuitive that anyone capable of moving the mouse and pressing the button at the same time had a great chance of becoming a successful general. The programmers still figured that this is too much for an average player, and provided two training missions in which you can learn how to move your units and shoot at the enemy. To make the thing even more ridiculous, the tutorial explains not even one of the advanced features like rely points or waypoints.

Maps and objects are far more colorful than they were in Tiberium Sun, the terrain is animated, and maps are crammed with NPCs going about their business. The battles will mostly take place in cities, with famous American and European landmarks adding to the atmosphere. The Statue of Liberty is one of the first things to be destroyed by the Russian invasion, and Pentagon and several more buildings we cannot wait to see torn down ever since the "Independence Day" will soon follow it. Some missions will prohibit you from destroying certain objects, but I doubt anyone will resist crushing the White House or Kremlin, even if it meant restarting the mission.

The game introduces a great number of units each with specific functions. Some units became much more powerful, so that you'll see buildings collapse after being hit by a single rocket. This doesn't mean the game swill be shorter because the projectile power and fire rate have been perfectly balanced. The battles will take place on ground, water and in air. The soldiers can gather experience and advance in ranks, but you cannot take them from one mission to another. Tanks with a great number of kills will induce extra damage, and be harder to kill, and as some missions will require destroying hundreds or even thousands, the veterans will sure play an important role. As no unit is omnipotent or indestructible, you'll have to combine different units in order to succeed. This sentence is a clich' (Whoa, there goes that word again -Ed.) in RTS reviews, and eventually it all comes down to massing up strong units and moving very quickly towards the enemy (rushing, that is). Red Alert 2 may succeed in making the players try something else than mere rushing (allied Prism Towers are ideal for destroying groups of Russian tanks, and a couple of powerful Yuris present an impassable obstacle for allied armored vehicles). All units have been well animated, and packs of dogs running down their prey through the woods or a Russian invasion (numerous paratroopers landing on Pentagon while heavy tanks destroy the last allied defense lines) are just some of the sights that will make your adrenalin flow.

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8.5   Very Good

The most comprehensive interface in CC serial, great number of buildings and units, excellent gameplay balance;

Déjà vu.


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