Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3: the most famous Real Time Strategy series is back with another epic installment of World War 3 pitting the classic Allies and The Soviets against each other, and a brand new enemy, the Empire of the Rising Sun, a vicious robotic force headed by George Takei as The Emperor.
Name-dropping is the real aim of this game, with, for a game, a pretty high-ranking cast constisting of Tim Curry, Jenny McCarthy, Jonathan Pryce, Gemma Atkinson, Randy Couture and others. Sticking to the classic C and C method of having acted cut-scenes rather than CG, which I have always believed is a nice attribute.
This is the first Command and Conquer game that I'm aware of that has quite a large air of comedy about it. It seems that the series has been around for so long now it can have a bit of a laugh about itself, from Gemma Atkinsons innapropriate northern accent and the quite ridiculous outfits, to the comedic optimism of the Russian Conscripts. But this takes nothing away from this game.
Facing more and more competition, EA has had to step its game up a little, having formerly stood alone as master of the RTS realm on consoles. But with this installment, C and C showcases its talents and reaffirms why it deserves that accolade.
The gameplay, obviously, is RTS. It's a marmite genre with some people sticking to it like glue and others much preferring FPS or getting in on the action. But in RTS standards, its perfect. The God view is excellent with simple camera controls, the unit and building controls have been perfected over years and they're an excellent example of pick up and play. the graphics are very good there's very few physics errors and I managed to draw a full week of playing without being frustrated by problems with the game at all.
With the imaginative tri-difficulty of easy, medium and hard. The game caters for all with a very obvious gap in the difficulties with easy being, well, easy, and hard being very hard. I beat all three campaigns on medium with a friend and although being brought to the verge of tears at some points, we soldiered through and I would say, with patience, anyone could learn their way through.
The factions are pretty standard although the variation in the buildings, units and way they're used vary obviously and you have to be very adaptive to cope. For those familiar with the C and C series, the Empire of the Rising Sun are an excellent addition, capitalising on 'Nanotechnology' EA siezed the opportunity to make very attractive new units heavily influenced by Japanimation, noticably the King Oni and the Mecha Tengu, which looks like something out of Gundam, and the Rocket Angels.
The Storyline, as ever with C and C is epic. there's always another disaster waiting to happen, it's death and destruction and invasions left, right and centre, but if it wasn't the game would be no fun. So whilst it's not a defining factor, it pulls its weight and the cut-scenes never fail to amuse.
A new introduction is the idea of an AI ally. This has been done for generations in the Skirmish mode, but never before in the campaign. However, the AI doesn't really stand up to scrunity, the commands arn't very good and I found myself watching my Ally march into an enemy base, kill a building I'd flagged, then subsequently leave without destroying anything else, allowing the enemy to rebuild. But then again, this allows the AI to be replaced with a human Co-op, which is excellent, so I'll let it slide.
the achievements are offline orientated and reasonably easy with approximately 750 for the campaign, which is about 25 hours gameplay. 100 for skirmish achievements which require you to beat AI, and some achievements which require you to do certain things in either skirmish or Ranked online. Beating the Campaign through Co-op gave me around 650 (I missed a couple), and about half an hour of boosting gave me all of the ranked achievements.
In summary, this game is flawless. It's an RTS, so some people may dislike it. But, as an RTS, it's the best console game around today. It's almost perfect in every way. If you like RTS. buy it. Period. If you're new to the genre, this game is the best introduction you can get. And if you don't like RTS', buy this anyway and you might find yourself changing your mind. 10/10.