Developers have been trying to get the complex controls of Real Time Strategy games to work on consoles for the last few years, and for the most part these games just haven’t worked out. It seems that with each RTS game that makes its way to consoles developers seem to be getting closer to getting the formula right, and in my opinion Halo Wars has done the best job in trying to feel like a solid RTS game. Unfortunately, Red Alert 3 fails to build on the progress made by previous console RTS games.
For those unfamiliar with the game, it’s set in an alternate universe where World War II never happened because Albert Einstein traveled back in time and removed Hitler in the 1920s. Instead, the Soviet Union rose to power, battling the Allies in the 1950s. Soon the Empire of the Rising Sun rises to power as a threat as well, which was an unintentional result of the Soviets time traveling.
The game does a lot of things well, the environments are colorful and expansive and the units are all unique. Everything in this game is over-the-top, and they don’t try to hide that fact. At one moment you’ll be fighting against parachuting bears, followed by dolphins with sonic weapons attached to their bodies. My favorite unit is the colossal samurai robot that is unlike anything I’ve seen in any other RTS game. There’s an abundance of units to use, some travel by sea, others by air, and the rest by ground. Red Alert 3’s campy cut-scenes and zany units show the game’s great sense of humor and proves that it definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is probably a good thing in the end.
Unfortunately, the zany style of the game seems to have the responsibility of hiding the fact that this game is average at best. The campy cut-scenes end up being the most interesting parts of the game, and they’re dreadful. There’s a well-known cast including the utterly remarkable George Takei, J.K. Simmons, and Peter Stormare. There’s definitely talent here, but there’s never a moment where this talent is put to good use as e almost every scene with these actors is extremely boring.
There is a good amount of variety in the missions, which for any game is important, but especially true for an RTS game. The in-game map looks like it was done in MS Paint, which was a bit distracting when everything else obviously had a lot of time spent on them. There’s a lot to do, you can play the campaign alone or with a friend in the Coop or Versus modes. There are three separate nations to choose from, each with their own campaign and around 20 unique units so there’s a lot of replayability there. The gameplay is well balanced and the load times are unnoticeable, which made the transitions between the briefings and the actual missions seamless.
I wanted to like this game, and Red Alert 3 definitely has its moments, but they are few and far between. EA’s promise of making this game worth the wait for PS3 owners for its improved graphics and performance was held up for the most part. It isn’t a bad game, in the end the game is an enjoyable, albeit mostly shallow experience, but the Ultimate Edition is definitely the one to buy if you’re interested in the game.
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