Command &Conquer Red Alert
Review by Al Giovetti, 11/20/96
Genre: real time strategy
Release: November 1996
Developer: Westwood, http://www.westwood.com
Requirements: Windows 95, Pentium, 8 MB RAM, SVGA, Mouse, 2x CD ROM (Dos: 486 DX, 33 Mhz)
History: Over the past few years, Westwood Studios has produced hit after hit extending back to the time they did games for other houses like Activision. It is really too bad the the fellows at Westwood do not take an interest in chronicling their history on their web site. It would make for interesting reading.
Prior to Red Alert, there was Dune 2, Eye of the Beholder I & II, Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn, Command & Conquer: and Covert Operations, all mega hits. And after Red Alert there will be Command & Conquer: The Tiberian Dawn. Happy gamers the world over await the release of Westwood games. You should to.
Plot: Well this time around we scrap the tiberium plot and pick up a new one, where you mine ore and gems to build with and make money. A plot that comes before and explains the GDI and NOD. This time Hitler never came to power. Einstein traveled back in time and killed Hitler as a young man.
A new sun dawns, a red sun of the Russians in the person of Joseph Stalin, perhaps the most ruthless butcher of the 20th century. The Russians replace the Germans, Italians, and Japanese as the aggressors in World War II. This is a World War where time travel, Tesla coils, rockets, bombers, submarines, and tanks reign supreme.
The Soviet empire is storming into Europe. Towns are falling and countries collapsing. You take the role of the modern forces with submarines, helicopters, and other weaponry and work to stop the tide or take the role of the Russians.
Gameplay: Control every unit on the map, including air, land and sea. New formations control for special tactics. Waypoint plotting for easier commands in missions and more control over the path taken.
New units dictate new play. The Russians have slow heavy units including heavy and mammoth tanks, flame throwers, grenadiers, Hind helicopters, Badger bombers, submarines, V2 rockets, attack dogs, rifle infantry, engineer, harvester, minelayer, mobile radar jammer, transport ship, MIG and yak fighters, Paratrooper, Parachute Bombs, Spy Plane, transport helicopter, and Tesla coils. The Allies have speed, technology and stealth on their side, with rifle infantry, rocket soldier, engineer, thief, AT Mine Layer, Ore Truck, jeep, APC (armored personnel carrier), artillery, transport ship, destroyer, longbow apache, GPS Satellite, Sonar Pulse, cruisers, gunboats, spies, medium and light tanks, rocket launchers, infantry, and medics.
The Allies Chronosphere can transport one unit to anywhere on the map. The Allies’ Gap Generator covers an entire area with an impenetrable cloud to prevent the Soviets from using their Missile Silo attack accurately. The Soviets also have the Iron Curtain which makes units temporarily invulnerable. The Cruiser has massive 8 inch guns that can reach far inland and decimate enemy structures and units.
Engineers are back and now they can repair friendly structures with one, but no longer can you capture an enemy structure with one. It requires that you take a structure down to the red in order for one engineer to take over the structure. While Westwood assures us this makes for more balanced play, I for one will lament the loss of the one engineer take over, since now take overs will be impossibly hard to pull off. Many felt that the most fun in the game was taking over the other guy’s structures.
Missions and Scenarios: There are over 20 missions each for the Soviet and Allied side, seven more per side than was originally planned. Many of the missions require the allies to heal wounded soldiers to win the scenario. Most of the missions are base building rather than the other missions where you had to figure out exactly how to use a limited force to win. Players wanted the base building missions and not the puzzle ones.
New units and structures to command include thieves, medics, attack dogs, spies, land mines, tesla coils, mobile radar jammers, saboteurs, destroyers, cruisers, bombers, paratroopers, and submarines. Special new structures called the chronosphere and gap generators will have special functions in the game.
The maps are much larger than they were in the previous games. Many people will like the larger battlefields. (I know I do - Ed.) Play the AI opponents in a new skirmish mode when there are no online opponents. Skirmish can also be used to refine the maps.
Artificial intelligence is smarter than ever. New difficulty settings will allow game players to adjust difficulty to their skill level. Replaying games over and over at ever increasing levels of skill should add to game play. Base construction and management AI is improved.
Graphics: Compatible with standard VGA and Super VGA. There are two graphics modes: a highly detailed Windows 95 mode with larger size map area in the central screen including smaller units and stuctures and the low detail DOS mode that has massively large structures and units when compared to the smaller size of the map displayed. It is much easier to play in the Windows mode, since you have a better command of the local area you are concentrating on. Clicking on the smaller units is understandably more difficult in the Windows 95 mode, but moving and controlling units is easier. You will like the new Windows 95 mode. Too bad you cannot go back and play the original game in Windows 95. See article on Command and Conquer Gold for Windows 95.
Animation: Three dimensional cinematics for the cut scenes between battles, portraying a large cast of characters, including Stalin and Einstein. New characters, such as Tanya must survive the battles or you cannot win, since they appear in the cut scenes. Migs attack in one of the cut scenes.
Music score: Three dimensional audio
Voice actors: Hammy actors return for the cutscenes with voices used for the men when they answer commands.
Utilities: An automap is included. The map editor will allow many to create their own scenarios and multi-player terrain. The editor will allow you to edit the attack and defense ratings of each unit, if you want to tweak the opposition and return to the default settings when you are through experimenting.
Muliplayer: Up to six players can play head-to-head on a internet or network. Chat during play accommodates longer messages, and more information. Set up faster with more options.
Al Giovetti, Dune II: The Building of A Dynasty, Electronic Games, volume 1, number 9, June, 1993, pg. 74.
Al Giovetti, Eye of the Beholder II: The Legend of Darkmoon, Compute, volume 14, number 6, July, 1992, pg. 86-87.
Al Giovetti, Eye of the Beholder, QuestBusters, volume 8, number 5, May, 1991, pg. 6.
Chris Hudak, http://www.gamespot.com/previews/redaler/index.html
Glenn Broderick, Computer Player, volume 3, number 5, October, 1996, pg. 59
Jason Bates, PC Gamer, volume 3, number 12, December, 1996, pg. 238-239, 91%.
-- Al Giovetti, The Computer Show, 1615 Frederick Road, Catonsville, MD, 21228-5022, 410-747-0396 http://www.charm.net/~wizards/computershow/