Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 Review

Red Alert is one of the classics of real-time strategy gaming. Can Westwood follow it up with a worthy sequel? Especially considering that the sequel to Command & Conquer, Tiberian Sun, met with a lot of disappointment? Well read on, for the answer to that question is a resounding 'yes'.

The original Red Alert took place in a world in which Albert Einstein discovered the secret of time travel. He used his invention to travel back in time and assassinate Hitler. An unforeseen consequence of this action was that Stalin took advantage of the power void to his west and began a program of Soviet expansion.

The Allies were able to eventually stop Stalin, and in his place General Romanov assumed power with promises of peace. However, Romanov in reality despised the Allies and what they had done to Soviet power. He began a rebuilding program and when the Allies had been lulled into a false sense of security, flexed the Soviet bear's muscle once more. It is at this point that Red Alert 2 opens.

For veterans of the original Red Alert, the answer to the question "What's new?" is 'plenty'. You'll find few familiar faces among the units of Red Alert 2, and will have almost an entirely new arsenal at your disposal. For example, the Allies now possess 'prism' technology, allowing them to build new units that attack with the power of highly focused beams of light. This technology gives the Allies Prism Towers for defense and deadly Prism Tanks for the attack. These units can feed off of each other's strength, so the more tanks or towers that are placed near each other, the more powerful they become.

The navies of both sides, which were minimal in Red Alert, have been greatly expanded. The Soviet fleet now boasts Dreadnaughts, which are equipped with powerful, long-range missiles, fast-attack Sea Scorpions, and even Giant Squids trained to overturn Allied vessels. Not to be undone, the Allies counter with Aegis anti-missile cruisers, Aircraft Carriers, and trained attack Dolphins.

Also of note ... gone are most of the Soviet air forces, replaced by a single bomb-dropping dirigible, the Kirov Airship. The Kirov is the embodiment of the Soviet attack doctrine which emphasizes slow-moving, but devastatingly powerful units. This runs counter to the Allies' swift-moving, high tech forces.

There are plenty of other new units and structures, but I don't want to spoil all of the fun of discovering them on your own. Suffice it to say that Red Alert 2 is more than a collection of new missions - it is just about a whole new game that stands quite well on its own.