Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 Review
What would it take to get you to play an old fashion real time strategy game? If you base it off of the StarCraft model you would want easy handling of the interface, units that go beyond rock-paper-scissor fighting, and a fun variety of factions. Now what if you toss in oodles of babes, crisp graphics, the absence of climbing tech trees, crazy units, and a story based on time travel and Albert Einstein? You get something close to C&C: Red Alert 3.
So the story starts with the Russians changing history by going back in time and killing Einstein before he can make his bombs. From there you have your option of playing as Japan, Russia, or the Allies, all of which have had major technological advances, perhaps illogical, but advanced and cool war machines. The stories don't sync up, which may have been better, they are all just separate of each other and play out where you lead one faction to victory. You are aided by a leader and some female assistant, along with the many commanders fighting alongside you. Even though the story lines don't do much to compel you, since they have predictable twists, they are nice to see through for the performances.
That is probably the main selling point of this game, the live-action cutscenes with some familiar actors who don't just mail it in. The likes of Tim Curry, J.K. Simmons, George Takei, Peter Stormare, and Jenny McCarthy keep the story entertaining while playing their parts very nicely; not award-winning acting but you can tell they get the half-serious nature the game intends. It's almost a campy story, but it has the just right mix of ridiculousness and good acting to pull off a story presented to you in "talking head" fashion through video screens. Of course the babes keep your eyes glued to the scenes, even if you aren't paying much attention to the story. Sure, the babes are just there to "warmly" transition between missions, but they certainly don't hurt this game.
To help the story are the slick visuals and menus. The animated movies make for pleasant eye-candy, but are much less frequent than the live-action movies, and that's too bad because they are all pretty awesome. Between missions are nice visuals and tiny summary videos for what you are to do in the next mission, and the menus outside of the gameplay have this weird but good quality that makes me think I like to navigate them. Even the sides of the screen for the live-action scenes seem to draw you in to the feel of each faction. It's just the little things about the presentation the developers really nailed.
The campaign is your standard RTS action, but it's more mission-based than any RTS I've ever played, and the levels flow much smoother than if you were to just camp and build. Unfortunately, after the missions of intrigue that start most levels, most do turn into building up your army from a base and sending them after the enemy. What helps is that you have an ally in every level that you can order around and tell him or her where to focus military efforts. Though the levels are varied and have many unique and interesting tasks that allow for elements other than pure RTS gaming, the vast majority boil down to you attacking a pre-set enemy base.