Command & Conquer: Red Alert PC Review

Right, here’s the deal, old Einstein thought it’d be a great idea that once he’d invented time travel he’d go back and cause some harm to lovely Adolf Hitler and therefore we’d miss out on the fun of World War II. Well he did it you know, good for him we think, not so, now Stalin’s the baddy. The story goes that the old boy Communist had no-one to restrain his plans for domination like Hitler; us Allied folk just have a habit of being a bit slow I guess. Well as the story mode of the game begins Europe’s pretty well been taken over and its you versus the mighty Reds. Well all this is assuming you use the Allied disk after all ? You can fight on the side of evil after all, as you will do I expect, we all need to dabble.

Graphics

Graphically the game has just stood the test of time, but let’s be fair, this is a retro gaming review and this game is a fair few years old but graphics were never the games strong point. The top down view means the graphics serve their purpose but no more, they’re simple but effective which does all help in retrospect to help the game run smoothly on today’s machines even in the thickest of scraps. On the other hand the introduction when the game is loaded and the between-mission cinematics are excellent to watch, the story is acted rather than animated which aids to give a more…realistic feel to the story even if it is a slight fantasy, there’s nothing like the human touch.

Gameplay

The game’s strength lies here, the gameplay is still superb even in today’s world of games that require more than a 486 machine to run. The menus are self-explanatory as are the in-game ones: structures in one column and vehicles/men in the other. Then once you’ve built everything just drag a box over your units and attack, very cut-throat and simple, as war should be. However, while simplicity is bliss, gameplay is also what can harm this game’s appeal. Especially by the contemporary standards the A.I. can be at times… well frankly shocking. The CPU opponents have only one floor in fairness, they don’t build tanks or planes, but on the hardest difficulties and with the patches/editors available they are certainly a match for any man. The A.I. lacks, most frustratingly, in your own units. The sheer bloody determination of your tanks to separate from each other during an attack so they can be picked off by your foe can bring you to the point of madness; just ask fellow staff member Space if you don’t take my word for it.

Sound

The musical score is second to none; almost every pc user will have heard the opening tune of “Hell March”. The character voices in the cinematic sequences are acted so there’s no problem there either. A simple computerised voice crackles out whenever something’s going wrong so that’s cool too, as is the simple replies of “yes sir” and “affirmative” given by your units. In fact the only complaint about the sound could be that there’s not enough of it, but at the same time there is enough, ahh well take your pick, I’m sitting on the fence here.

Lifespan

Well I’m still playing it and it’s been out years, that’s a good lifespan. The only fault you could find is that there are very few patches and no mods out for the game. This gives many people over to the Total Annihilation school of strategy where, with the right downloads and add-ons, there are numerous units and maps to add/create plus new A.I.s to download.

Overall

This game’s a classic with almost anyone who’s played it, even those who’ve come to it fairly recently. It’s certainly retro but it paved the way, no arguments, this game’s still not bad, but with other modern offers in a sea of Real-Time Strategy at relatively low prices it’s probably best just to find a friend who’s actually got it before you spend any hard earned pennies.

9 out of 10
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