For Mother Russia!!!
It seems the last couple of days have been filled with exciting game news. EA have officially announced their intention to release a Command and Conquer Red Alert 3 game. Almost seven years on from Red Alert 2, this game has been on the drawing boards over at the Allied Tech Center for a number of years.
Firstly, I can’t think of a reason not to welcome this news. The Command and Conquer series is a popular RTS-for-the-masses type of game which broad appeal. If EA manage to pull of a good sequel then I will be the first one quing up on the release day. However, from the early indications, it sounds as though EA might fall into the trap of making the same mistakes they made with C&C 3.I personally am a huge fan of both the GDI/NOD C&C universe and the ‘Timeline gone wrong’ Soviets vs Allies of Red Alert. When I got hold of C&C 3 I was initially impressed by the visceral graphics and the big names in the FMV cut scenes… but this quickly cooled when I got into the single player missions and found them dull, uninspired and really lacking in any strategic depth. The inclusion of a third race made for an interesting and exciting game play change particularly as their tech tree was completely different (exactly as one should expect.) However EA made the mistake of making them ‘War of the Worlds’-esque which made player hanker for larger, towering, practically indestructible creatures. Instead, the Scrin were given watered down units which had just enough resemblance to make players think ‘War of the Worlds’ but neither looked, sounded or acted menacing enough. C&C 3, for me was a big disappointment with tedious micro management and a complete lack of sophistication making the single player experience dull.
Now lets look back to September, 2000 when Red Alert 2 was released. In many ways it was a great step forward from Red Alert 1. Graphically it was wonderfully polished, the introduction of better and more exciting super weapons and an array of imaginative unit types and tech buildings really shook things up and made for a highly enjoyable experience. The Yuri’s Revenge expansion pack did a great job at introducing a completely new type of playable faction as well as a variety of tweaks whist keeping the much loved ‘tank vs tesla coil’ approach intact. The biggest downside to Red Alert 2 is that it looked far too much like a cartoon and although there was a greater scope for strategy, it was largely overlooked due to poorly balanced units like the Prism tank or Kirov Airship.
There is a lot of talk about how EA are going to introduce a third side to spice up Red Alert 3 etc etc. I think this is primarily what will be their down fall if they are not careful. In the beginning when the first C&C and Red Alert were released, there was a clear divide between them. C&C was set slightly in the future with a completely fictional universe, units and resource. Red Alert was completed different in that it took the same RTS elements, but brought in a realistic (i.e. factually accurate-ish) universe. That differentiation was good but now it seems, especially with what EA did with Red Alert 2, that they prefer the to set their games in a far more fictional universe. I have nothing against this concept (Terror Drone FTW but units like the Squid/Dolphin take it too far) I hope they do not ruin RA 3 like C&C 3.
The biggest criticism that has always been brought against the C&C franchises is that they are prone to tank rushes. Command and Conquer Generals knocked that on the head by beautifully tweaking damage levels by unit type. No longer could a single rifle soldier take down a heavy tank or a building (given enough time) nor could an aircraft unload several bomb loads at an Infantry unit only to have them get up and look around as if they had been taking a nap. If I was in charge of making Red Alert 3, I would make it a mixture of a Red Alert 1/2 technology universe (minus Yuri’s faction) with the Generals damage engine focusing primarily to game-play rather than making it look pretty. To quote Abe Simpson “Just don’t screw it up.” 🙂