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Retro Monday – Command & Conquer: Red Alert

Command and Conquer is a real-time strategy (RTS) game series that is split into three different universes. Today we are looking at the Red Alert universe, specifically Command & Conquer: Red Alert. It was released in 1996 for PC and 1997 for PlayStation. It was made by Westwood Studios and the series is still ongoing with Red Alert 3 coming out for PS3 and Xbox 360.

The game starts with a cutscene that shows Albert Einstein going back in time to kill Hitler in 1924 stopping the Nazi’s rise to power. Unfortunately, this causes Russia to become more powerful and instead they start a war.  As said above, Red Alert is an RTS and that entails building various buildings which in turn gives you better buildings, that can give you a map, certain vehicles, special weapons, Tesla coils and so on.

The things you build can also grant you better troops. You start off with rifle men and grenadiers, but later you can get more types, like rocket men, who fire rocket launchers. Each troop type has its benefits over certain things – rocket troops are more effective than rifle men for taking out vehicles, you also have a harvester which gathers your resources with which you use to build. It’s the same with vehicles, some are better for taking out a variety of enemies.

I played this thinking the design would be too archaic to be as enjoyable as newer more modern, better functioning RTS games, but it’s actually still good to play. Although you don’t – at least to my knowledge – get the hotkeys that you get nowadays, and the fog of war is broken, as when you reveal a part of the map it stays revealed, but it plays well enough and is engaging to boot. The acting is bad during the mission briefing cutscenes, but I think it’s pretty fun – the good kind of bad. The gameplay is more simplistic, but it’s smooth and fun, while still making you think about what you are doing, and, from memory it get’s more difficult later on, where unit management and resource gathering is key to success.

Visually it’s pretty decent, everything is recognisable, you can easily tell your troops, vehicles and the terrain apart, and so on. The UI is pretty simple, you just have the a bar on the left with boxes in which the building stuff takes place. Musically there’s some really good stuff there, the sound effects are pretty good, with the gunfire sounding OK, and then people’s death screams sounding well. The actual music itself has some really good guitar riffs and some nice sinister sounding music fitting for war and music styles in between.

I must add that I did have one problem, that was irritating more than anything. It didn’t really affect the game, but the game on my monitor went slightly off the screen. It meant that there was a little missing on each side of the game, so for me where it may say ‘Destroy the enemy’  it would say ‘stroy the enemy’. As I said, not game affecting, just a little annoying. Luckily, the stream was the full game and didn’t have this problem.

Verdict: Recommended

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