September 2, 2011
After a long wait, we received the long awaited sequel.Granted, under EA we came to expect some goofyness in Red alert in the lines of funky colorful animals, and accepted the less serious acting,so that is no longer an issue as it was back then.
Surprisingly, the game is a little less over the top than the previous delivery and offers surprising changes into gameplay. For instance, ore is no longer found in fields, but is extracted from a single mine, like warcraft III. Also, theres a new faction for the first time, and each one is more different from the others than before.While US retains the classic flavor of Red Alert, Soviets follow the "build on the spot" Generals Scheme, and the Empire constructs premade mobile buildings(nano cores), that can be deployed anywhere like the MCV does.
The story follows a similar scheme than the original , but instead of Hitler, its Eistein taken out of the picture(which contradicts the existence of the cronosphere but well, deux ex machina). The rise of the Empire of the Rising sun ensues as a result of the time meddling and a new war erupts.All of this is shown in very good CGI and solid acting from quite some hollywood A and B actors. The graphics are really good, as the water effects are fantastic,the lighting and detail are pretty high too The explosions look really spectacular and the overall battles are mesmerizing.In this regard, this game stands like it never did in astonishing graphics.In terms of sound, they are fullfilling, cheesy and clear.The russians still use their english with their ove-the-top accent, and the japanese speak with the expected accent, and say a few japanese lines.
The sides are pretty balanced and the missions are challenging, and entertaining.Moreso, thanks to the new CO-Commander mode, that allows an AI or human ally to control a friendly army, they offer new strategy options between mixed armies of different sides.
Most missions are pretty lenghty and have different ways to overcome, which results in satisfying conclussions,although the endings are, for the most part, a bit unrewarding and simplistic compared to previous iterations.
While the single player offers a decent campaign and a great CO OP mode, the multiplayer is simply put, terrible.
It is handled in a peer to peer basis by Gamespy, and its done in a very poor way.Errors(like connection errors are common), and stop games from starting, unless the players with the delay are kicked out. This can repeat over and over before getting a decent game.
After the game starts, it is very possible that, if there are more players involved, its gonna have a poor connection quality, slowing down the game to an unbearable crawl. In fact most 6 player games will have horrible connection.
As a matter of fact, 3 v 3 games, are not doable by matchmaking(unlike Starcraft II).They must be manually set up. What will happen is that players can(unlike starcraft), check your ranking in the chat room. If they decide you are bad(by win-lose ratio), they will make sure to put you in the team of worse players,before starting. That way they ensure another win in their lists.
The matchmaking also has a big problem. It does not match you against players of similar experience(it has the option but it does not work). So you will play against top 100 players even if its your first game. You can imagine how will that go in terms of fun-Moreover, the game lets the experienced player know his oponent is a newcomer BEFORE the match.
Players in arranged games would rather leave the game than play with someone without a good win-loss ratio in team. So unexperienced players will find themselves in a hard spot just finding a game.
To make things worse, there are "strategies" widely used to avoid a loss. You can simply disconnect(skips the defeat entirely), or ,the most insidious one, lag it out.If you download (say Ares, or other p2p) heavily, you can manage to stay in the game, while slowing the game to the point nobody can move. You can wait as much as needed until the oponent simply tires out and quits in frustration and you get a free win.This horrible "tactic" is used by some of the "best" ranked players.Whatever it takes to win eh?-unlike other current games, there is no way to report this as it happens.You can go to the forums and report it that way, which is cumbersome enough to detract people.
While you can get an even and satisfying match in this game, it is way inferior to the online mode of 1997 Red Alert, which is a huge disgrace for a game made in 2008.
Finally, the way the game is set up in terms of gameplay is a little bit punnishing(in some maps). Basically the whole game is defined(in most cases), in the first couple of minutes, by taking control of the refineries on the map.The player who gets the first dogs or bears on the refinery win.You can send your own animals to fight it out, and its a match of who-literally-barks first. Oh, and if you are the empire you are screwed, you got no animal to escort your enginer.You can try to send your core to crush the animal but they can just dodge.After that, the player with the money can just make lots of units and starve the poor player by chipping him our or crushing him with many dozens of air units.
Red Alert 3 is a very fun , and good game if you play offline .Online, you will have to build a list of friends first and then enjoy the game. Overall, Red alert has some minor issues in terms of gameplay, and we can only hope the following game takes an entirely different online route, at least to the point of remembering how it used to be. I recommend it to strategy fans of the classics with a warning if they love online.