A look back at Command & Conquer Red Alert 2
Welcome back, commander!
Command & Conquer Red Alert 2 is for many C&C fans the best in the series. While I wouldn’t completely agree with that, as I think Tiberium Wars is a better game and I like the Tiberian sun story better, it is without a doubt my favorite game in the series. One I still play daily! This will be my short review and look back of sorts of the game.
The story of Command & Conquer Red Alert 2
I said I preferred the Tiberian Sun story as I’m drawn to darker more grounded Sci-fi stories. But the story of Command & Conquer Red Alert 2 is a perfect fit with the game design and feel. The campy and cliche story where you can see the betrayals from a mile away, where every wink to the camera lets you know the actors know this is silly and that you should have fun with them. In the Allied campaign where we are the commander who fights for the freedom of the free world, a faction where everyone is a goody-two-shoes, on one side. And on the other, the Soviet campaign was full of internal clashes and betrayal. It’s so silly and predictable yet it’s unmistakably Red Alert 2 and it works as it has the right balance. Red Alert 3 for example steered too much into campy and over-sexualization and it didn’t work even if the story beats are a bit more unpredictable.
How does it look comrade?
The game looked very nice for the time when it came out and it is a 2.5D game that works in its favor 20 years later. Why? Well, a lot of early 3D games that came out later look awful nowadays. Tiberian Sun is just about a year older, and yet it looks worse because of all the muted colors. Command & Conquer Red Alert 2 with its color palette and diverse terrain (maps) still looks great and the units are easily seen on the terrain. Various mods have upgraded the look of the game to new highs tho some have taken it too far. If you want to see what Red Alert 2 can look like in 2022 take a look at Mental Omega.
Best part of Command and Conquer Red Alert 2
Without a doubt the best part of Command and Conquer red alert 2 are the FMVs. The movies between the missions. I’ve mentioned before that the story is silly and the actors play well into that silliness and don’t go overboard. And there are quite a few well-known actors here. Kari Wuhrer, Ray Wise, and Udo Kier, to name a few, all have a few big movies or TV shows under their belts. Tho Udo could stay away from those Uwe Boll movies.
Another great part is the sound design and music. Sound effects and voice-overs for units are perfect. Sound effects for a big tank sound like a big tank and a “useless” conscript rifle sounds equally useless. The voice-overs are even improved in Yuri’s revenge where every unit gets their special voice-over, in Red Alert 2 some share the same quotes.
The only game in the Command and Conquer series with better sound effects, in my opinion, is Tiberium Wars. But no game has better music. Frank Klepacki has outdone himself with a soundtrack mixing rock riffs with fast-paced electric beats.
What about game-play sir?
There is a reason this game is quite popular among all players. Those who like to play it from time to time. To those die-hard fans that play it every day. Its gameplay is so simple everyone can play and it seems very surface level compared to modern RTS games with countless upgrades, unit special abilities, and other modern RTS staples. Yet it’s deeper than that. It takes a lot to master the game and a good tactic will beat brute force every time. It’s a perfect blend of resource management, resource gathering, action, and micro-management. It never feels too overwhelming
What's the verdict
This game is still fun to play even 20 years later. Its age is often more of a pro than a con since it’s simple enough to get back into the game even if you haven’t played since early 2000.