The gaming press may be a jackpot. When Westwood Studios launched Tiberian Sun, just about every game magazine and website struggled to make it groundbreaking. After several months of anticipation, the sequel to the original Command & Conquer preceded Star Wars: Phantom Menace: too much hype, too little entertainment. In reality, no game could have lived up to the expectations about Tiberian Sun, and the game actually had some pretty well-crafted missions, a variety of units, and balanced gameplay.
The proper sequel to Command & Conquer: Red Alert is not exactly a Herculean leap in creativity, but it fits pretty much the standards you would have for one of the best game developers around. There was very little buzz about this title, but it goes beyond what little attention the gaming community gave it. Red Alert 2 does succeed in offering some simple innovations and a much quicker speed than previous games. Really, it's a return to the original game design. Command & Conquer featured several language-in-cheek pre-mission cutscenes and 3D-rendered action sequences. Red Alert 2 provides even better introductions to each mission, thanks to the well-acted scenes of some faces that you would definitely recognize from TV and movies. The made scenes are the finest the genre has to offer, and they help get you geared up for action.
In reality, the full-motion video is part of the actual game itself, helping to bring the plot. You will instantly find that Tonya has returned to fight for the Allied forces, and her video counterpart adds a sluggish aspect to the game. More than anything else, the missions are just fun to play. Each mission has some clever new goals, and you're going to blow up a lot of things, wind your way through a lot of labyrinths, and improve your strategies. The interface of Red Alert 2 has improved. Unit queuing is a transition from Tiberian Sun, but you can now switch between modes to queue buildings or units. There is also a new menu at the bottom of the screen that allows you to perform grouping and guarding functions, something that used to be done (and still can be done) through key commands.
Unit variance is greater than ever before. I noticed that rocket-propelled infantry units were very useful because they were not encumbered by the ground. As normal, finding the best way to use all the new units is part of the fun. I also enjoyed using the new Desolator device to scorch the areas on the map to make them impassable, thereby thwarting the enemy's assault. The days of the tank rush are gone because the costlier units can all be used for rushes, and each unit has its own strengths and weaknesses. It is also true that the Allied forces are theoretically better trained and that the Soviets are essentially better off en masse. This helps link the game to the original and makes it feel like a sequel.
One of the looming concerns of this series is how well it compares to the latest wave of RTS games. True 3D games like Force Commander are very poor graphically, and Red Alert 2 looks a lot better even though it uses 2D maps and animated sprites. Yet Dark Reign 2 is a more fun game to play because it feels more realistic. Red Alert 2 still feels like a simulation, and there's never any effort to make the graphics look realistic. Dark Reign 2 makes good use of its game engine so that you can immerse yourself in action and strategy at the same time.
Thank you for reading and I'm wishing everyone the best end of the year,