Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3

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Not to be confused with Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars.
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 cover - Natasha (Windows version)

Red Alert 3 cover art

Developer(s) EA Los Angeles
Publisher(s) Electronic Arts
Composer(s) James Hannigan
Frank Klepacki
Timothy Michael Wynn[1]
Mikael Sandgren[2]
Series Command & Conquer (main)
Red Alert (sub-series)
Engine SAGE
Platform(s) Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, OS X
Release date(s) Windows:

Xbox 360:

PlayStation 3:

OS X:

Genre(s) Real-time strategy
Mode(s) Single-player, co-operative, multiplayer
Distribution DVD-DL, Blu-ray Disc, digital distribution

Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 is a 2008 real-time strategy video game developed by EA Los Angeles and published by Electronic Arts. It was released on October 28, 2008 in the United States for Microsoft Windows PCs and October 30, 2008 in Europe. An Xbox 360 version was released on November 11. On January 21, 2009 EA officially announced Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 - Ultimate Edition,[11] the PlayStation 3 version which contains bonus material extra to that of the Xbox 360 and PC versions and released on March 23, 2009 along with the OS X version by TransGaming. The game is a continuation of the Red Alert games within the Command & Conquer series. Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 – Uprising, a stand-alone expansion pack, was released for Windows in March 2009. It was offered via digital distribution.[12]

Like the previous entries in the Red Alert series, the game is set in an alternate reality from World War II, in which the Western Allies fought the Soviet Union. In Red Alert 3 the Soviet leadership, facing defeat, goes back in time to kill Albert Einstein and prevent his assistance to the allies, paving the way for Soviet domination in the present. However as an unintended consequence, a third world power, the Empire of the Rising Sun, is created and all three sides go to war. All three factions are playable, with the gameplay involving constructing a base, gathering resources and training armies to defeat other players. Each faction has a fully co-operative campaign, playable with an artificial intelligence partner or with another human player online. The game intersperses strategy missions with full motion video footage featuring an ensemble cast led by Jonathan Pryce, Tim Curry and George Takei as the leaders of the three adversaries.

The game received mostly positive reviews, with reviewers citing the co-operative and multiplayer components as strengths, along with the enhanced role of naval combat compared to other real-time strategy games. Commonly cited weaknesses included aspects such as unit pathfinding.

Gameplay[edit]

Almost all structures can now be built offshore, out of reach of some enemy units - and in reach of others.

Red Alert 3 retains the core RTS mechanics of the Command & Conquer series. Warring factions harvest resources using vulnerable collectors and then use those resources to construct military bases and forces on-site. Structures form a shallow but wide tech tree with a variety of units and elusive superweapons. Weapon types are specialized to the point where a rifleman can withstand direct hits from an anti-tank cannon. Red Alert 3 '​s major refinements are the addition of the Empire of the Rising Sun to the factions of the sub-series (similar to what Tiberium Wars did with the Scrin faction), a co-operative campaign, and expanded naval warfare.

The "single-player" campaign is now fully co-operative. Each mission is played alongside an ally. When played online, this is another human player. Offline it is one of several computer-controlled characters. Teams share income and generally start with the same forces. Computerized characters can be given simple commands, such as an order to take a specific position or to strike a specific target. The campaign has nine missions for each side. Each side's plotlines are mutually exclusive, unlike Tiberium Wars and its preceding and following expansion packs, but like most of the other Command & Conquer games.

Naval warfare is emphasized as another front. Executive producer Chris Corry has stated that many units are now amphibious, trading effectiveness for increased flexibility. Buildings and entire bases can be constructed on water, save for such things as ground or naval unit production facilities (e.g. tank factories are ground-only, but Tsunami tanks are amphibious and can be produced in Naval Yards),[13] and players who "ignore the ocean [are] likely forfeiting a significant part of their potential economy to their opponents." Further stressing this is the fact that, despite some campaign maps being entirely land based, all multiplayer maps have significant bodies of water in them.

The use of naval units and various unit abilities also helped players counterattack their opponent's units specific to that unit's strongpoint; for example, a Soviet Stingray's secondary ability, Tesla Surge, sends a surge of electricity in the tesla boat's area, damaging units from attack dolphins to terror drones.

Almost every unit in the game has a secondary ability. Their usage varies: some are toggled on or off, others are targeted, and still others are triggered the instant one presses the button. Imperial construction vehicles are able to deploy into buildings at any specified location, a Soviet Hammer tank can toggle between an anti-tank gun and a leech beam that can leech HP from enemies, and an Allied artillery piece can engage its shields with a button press but with a cooldown period before they can be used again. All abilities are bound to the same key. The game also features experience points that are used to upgrade unit types and to buy "commander abilities," which call in air strikes, recon sweeps, magnetic satellite beams, etc. Commander abilities have no resource costs but do have significant cooldown periods.

Ore fields as resource sites have been removed. These originated in the first Red Alert as a functionally identical equivalent to Tiberium, and what were ostensibly strip mines had ore growing out of the ground. Gameplay mechanics haven't changed a great deal since fields have been replaced with stationary ore mines. Strategic ore-refinery placement and covert refining are impacted to an extent.

Design[edit]

The first Red Alert revolved around a down-to-earth World War II between the Allies (including Germany) and the Soviet Union, with some high-tech esoterica, such as weaponized tesla coils linked to Tesla's abortive death rays and limited time travel linked to the rumored Philadelphia Experiment. Red Alert 2 featured a Soviet invasion of North America with tanks, conscripts, gargantuan airships, and psychically dominated anti-ship giant squids; its expansion, Yuri's Revenge, escalated matters up to UFOs and Soviets on the Moon. Executive producer Chris Corry stated in a pre-release interview that Red Alert 3 will further differentiate the playable factions from each other and "[play] up the silliness in their faction design whenever possible."[14]

The Soviets and Allies have a mix of old and new features. Soviet units lean towards ruthlessness and brute force: giant Kirov airships are retained and flak troopers are now penal troops, while attack dogs are an Allied unit that the Soviets have replaced with functionally identical armored war bears. New units include heavy tanks known as "Hammer Tanks" that can tear weapons from the enemies they destroy with a magnetic beam, light anti-infantry walkers known as "Sickles" that can jump over terrain elevations, the amphibious "Stingray" attack craft with twin-mounted tesla coils, and amphibious AA-only "Bullfrog" transports that can only shoot their passengers out of a "man cannon". The Soviets have lost their nuclear technology due to the events of the backstory, but can leverage their simple tech, cheap units and "quick fix" structures like the Super Reactor and Crusher Crane, enabling them to easily overwhelm enemy bases. Soviet armour are considerably tougher than Allied and Japanese on the whole, and augmented with their infamous Iron Curtain, can be extremely dangerous.

A major change from Red Alert 2 is the Soviet air force: in addition to Kirovs, the Soviets have access to MiG (Mikevich and Guroyan) fighters and versatile attack helicopters. In lieu of nuclear bombs, the Soviets have developed the Vacuum Imploder, a warhead which sucks humans, vehicles and damaged buildings into a dense hole before exploding.

The Allies come with a wide variety of gadgetry (mostly nonlethal), much of it as a comeback of Red Alert 2's advanced units. New units include Hydrofoils with weapon-scrambling rays, unarmed helicopters with freeze and shrink rays, and an amphibious destroyer with treads and magnetic armor that can draw enemy fire. Allied units have a variety of different accents and "good guy" overtones: their basic infantry unit is the Peacekeeper, which seems to have been derived from riot police. Red Alert 2's advanced chrono-technology has been largely but not completely lost, so that the Chronosphere superweapon remains and the returning Tanya unit is now equipped with a "time belt" that allows her to wind her location and health back a few seconds. Allied advances are driven by the FutureTech corporation in Einstein's absence. Since the tech and base building takes some time the Allies are more patience-friendly.[15] The Allies' predominant strength is in air power, with the best selection of aircraft available ranging from bombers to air superiority fighters. The Allies' ultimate weapon is now the Proton Collider, a cannon which utilises unknown physics to cause great destruction at an atomic level.

The Empire of the Rising Sun has infantrymen in samurai armor with energy rifles and katanas, giant transforming mecha, ninjas, a psionic schoolgirl, and submersible planes/flying submarines. Several of the Empire's key units can change forms to switch from land-to-air or sea-to-air, giving them much greater versatility than Allied or Soviet units. Conversely, some of their "core units" are weaker than their counterparts, forcing the player to produce them in large numbers or use them effectively with support. Japanese naval units, however, are considerably capable, from dedicated anti-ship cruisers to heavy battleships. Their forward bases are easy to build and fully functional bases don't take much power. Their buildings also have no proximity requirements, allowing the Empire to expand its bases much more quickly and efficiently—and by extension to nab ore mines faster. Being in the altered timeline, the Japanese are now masters of psychic/psionic weaponry, not only with their commando, but with their Psionic Decimator. This ultimate weapon launches a wave of energy which can level a base. They also have the Nanoswarm Hive, a machine that generates a nanoparticle shield, similar to an Iron Curtain, but which is stationary and prevents anything coming in or out.

The campaign mode maintains the theme of camp warfare played perfectly straight, with the occasional secret volcano lair, android infiltrator (Empire of the Rising Sun campaign) or an anti-Soviet madman (Allies; has to be killed) as the President of the United States, and more than one thing shooting lasers out of its eyes. It also uses Full motion videos featuring real-life actors. Filming started in April 2008.

Plot[edit]

Facing defeat at the hands of the Allied nations, Soviet General Nikolai Krukov and Colonel Anatoly Cherdenko use a time machine beneath the Kremlin to travel back to Brussels in the year 1927 at the International Physics Conference and eliminate Albert Einstein, thus changing the future.[16] Returning to the present, General Krukov discovers that Cherdenko is the Premier of the Soviet Union and that the Soviets are on the brink of conquering Europe. However in this alternate timeline a new faction, the Empire of the Rising Sun, has risen in Japan who declare war on the Soviets and Allies desiring complete world domination, something they perceive as their Divine Destiny. The world is then plunged into a three-way war between the Soviet Union, the Allies and the Empire.

Soviet Union[edit]

In the Soviet campaign, the player assumes the role of a newly appointed Soviet commander whose first task is to expel the Imperial Japanese forces from Soviet territory by defending the city of Leningrad, securing a satellite launch facility and eventually re-taking a Soviet naval base on the Pacific coastline.

Afterwards the Allies are rallied together by President Ackerman, forcing the commander to lead attacks in Europe on their HQ in Geneva, and later capturing and securing a research lab in Mykonos; during these assaults, an attempt is made on Premier Cherdenko's life. The fight against the Allies in Europe culminates in a strike against the Von Esling Airbase in Iceland; during the conflict, Cherdenko names General Krukov as the traitor who tried to take his life, ordering the commander to kill him.

Next the Soviets launch an invasion of Japan, to kill Emperor Yoshiro in his palace at Mt. Fuji. Despite an initial setback, the commander successfully defeats all three Imperial commanders and kills the emperor on board his large battle mecha, effectively eliminating the empire from the conflict. Dr. Gregor Zelinsky, the scientist who created the time machine, contacts the commander and tries to reveal the events that has altered the past, but the communication link is abruptly cut and Zelinsky soon disappears.

The Premier orders the commander to Easter Island, to arrange a trap for the Allies, under the ruse of a peace treaty, effectively removing the Allied Military leaders from action, only for Cherdenko to finally declare that the commander has outlived his usefulness and launch a surprise attack against him; fortunately, he is defeated and killed at his volcano fortress. Soviet commander's launches a final invasion on New York, and to destroy the Statue of Liberty. The war ends with the player becoming the next Premier of the unopposed Soviet Union.

Allies[edit]

In the Allies campaign, the player takes on the role of a newly appointed Allied commander, who must first repel a Soviet invasion of Great Britain. Later, the Allies launch operations on the European mainland, retaking Cannes and saving Allied leaders there and destroying the Soviets HQ in Germany. The campaign however leaves both sides vulnerable to the Empire of the Rising Sun, who make their move by sending a floating fortress to blockade the Allies and the Soviets from entering the North Atlantic.

This prompts a joint attempt between the Allies and the Soviets to repel the Japanese, retaking a naval base in Gibraltar and destroying the Imperial fortress in the North Sea. U.S. President Ackerman, who did not approve of such a coalition, goes rogue, and attempts to destroy Moscow with a laser superweapon in Mount Rushmore. The Allied commander defeats the Ackerman's forces and the president himself.

With the alliance secured, the coalition plans a joint attack on Tokyo to wipe out the entire Empire military leadership with one stroke. This critical battle gets complicated when the Soviet forces fail to show up, leaving the Allied forces to fend for themselves. Despite the overwhelming odds, the commander succeeds again, wiping out the Empire's forces.

After the battle of Tokyo, Dr. Zelinsky defects to the Allies and informs them about the time machine he created and what the Soviets did; he also warns them of Cherdenko's secret gathering of force in Cuba, prompting the Allies to investigate further. Discovering the Soviets have constructed secret Kirov Hangars beneath sporting arenas, the Allied commander eradicates the Soviet forces in Cuba, preventing specially modified Kirovs from leaving Cuba's airspace.

Following this, the commander and his forces are teleported to Leningrad, and ordered to bring the Soviet leaders to justice. Cherdenko and his General attempt to escape to the Moon but are captured and placed in a Cryo-prison for life. The Vice President of the United States accepts power as the new American President in a public speech informing of Ackerman's treachery and he was only trying to "protect us" and thanks the Allied Commander for his heroic deeds.

Empire of the Rising Sun[edit]

Emperor Yoshiro's strategy involves striking at symbolic targets such as important monuments and employing fear to deteriorate the morale of the enemy. On the other hand, the Emperor's son, Crown Prince Tatsu, advocates direct strikes on true military targets, although his father would overrule him. The validity of the emperor's strategy however is soon challenged by the Allied full-scale attacks on Pearl Harbor at the Imperial islands of Hawaii and on one of the Empire's Floating Fortresses in the Pacific. Though both attacks are repelled and Hollywood is taken, a joint Allied-Soviet task force gains a foothold in Yokohama.

Having replaced President Ackerman with an android doppelganger, the Emperor learns of Zelinsky's defection and Cherdenko's time travel. This devastates the Emperor, as he thinks there can be no "Divine Destiny" if history can be altered. He surrenders the leadership of the Empire's military to his son. Under Prince Tatsu's command, the joint Allied-Soviet invasion of Yokohama is repelled and a full-scale attack on the Kremlin results in the deaths of Premier Cherdenko and General Krukov. Finally, the Empire invades Amsterdam, which holds the Allied Headquarters as well as FutureTech, the company responsible for much of the Allied technological advances. At the brink of defeat, Dr. Zelinsky's deploys a prototype FutureTech ultraweapon that annihilates almost everything in the city. Yet the remaining Imperial forces succeed in destroying what was left of the Allied and Soviet forces. Thus the war ends and the Commander is given the title of "Supreme Shogun".

Cast[edit]

Soviet Union[edit]

Allied Nations[edit]

Empire of the Rising Sun[edit]

Also starring[edit]

Soundtrack[edit]

Composer Frank Klepacki returned to write three tracks for the game. When interviewed regarding the matter, Klepacki indicated a strong desire to contribute more, but admitted that due to the fact that he is no longer being employed by Electronic Arts and currently works for Petroglyph Games, this may be contractually impossible. At the RA3 Community Summit in June 2008, Klepacki showed a video to the entire C&C community in which he stated that he had been hired to work on Red Alert 3, and that he was composing Hell March 3, the most recent update of Red Alert's iconic theme.[17][18]

In November 2008, Crispy Gamer[19] reported that James Hannigan and Timothy Michael Wynn wrote the bulk of the game's remaining 114 minutes of music, with Hannigan composing the 'Soviet March' menu theme along with music for the Empire of the Rising Sun Faction, and Wynn the music of the Allies and the remaining Soviet tracks. Music4Games has also covered the game's music score.[1]

The band From First to Last composed several remix versions of "Hell March" and "Hell March 2", featured on the Red Alert 3 soundtrack shipped with the Red Alert 3 'Premier Edition'.[20]

A song in the soundtrack by James Hannigan is called "All Your Base Are Belong To Us", a reference to Zero Wing and the internet meme of the same name.

Multiplayer[edit]

The game features online multiplayer, originally via GameSpy servers. Due to the shutdown of GameSpy, original Red Alert 3 online services not available. A separate online solution, provided by Revora, is called C&C Online.

Development[edit]

Naval warfare is greatly emphasized in Red Alert 3.

A third Red Alert game was unofficially announced by Electronic Arts' then executive producer and C&C lead Mark Skaggs in December 2004, shortly after the release of The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth.[21] However, Mark Skaggs left Electronic Arts for reasons unspecified shortly thereafter, and there was no mention of a "Red Alert 3" until February 12, 2008, when the US PC Gamer's April issue cover was published on the Internet featuring the cover story "Red Alert 3".[22] Red Alert 3 was then officially announced by Electronic Arts on February 14, 2008.[23] On May 17 the first trailer was released.

Public beta testing[edit]

A public beta test was announced on February 2008, stating that PC users who registered a code contained in Command & Conquer 3: Kane's Wrath or Command & Conquer 3 Limited Collection by September 15, 2008 could participate in a multiplayer beta test.[23][24] From July 24, 2008, people who registered their beta key started to receive an e-mail stating that the participants would start receiving their Key and Client Download link throughout late-July and August.[25] FilePlanet members were also able to participate in the beta, with keys available on a first-come, first-served basis from August 22, 2008.[26] The Red Alert 3 Beta servers were closed on September 29, 2008.

SecuROM[edit]

Executive producer Chris Corry stated that Red Alert 3 would come bundled with the controversial[27][28][29] SecuROM software. The game will have to be activated the first time online, but can be activated and installed only five times per serial.[30] Note that an activation is system targeted, so users can reinstall as often as they want on one computer but activate only on five different computers. After the fifth activation, consumers will be required to contact EA Customer Service for every additional activation. He has also stated that uninstalling the game will not return the used installation back to the user.[31] However, after several patches released by EA, in the released game, uninstalls do return the installation back to the user.[32]

In the aftermath of Spore's SecuROM controversy, there was an outcry amongst some circles of customers who began threatening to boycott Red Alert 3 if this game was bundled with such digital rights management mechanisms as well. In response, EA announced that in Red Alert 3 the activation limit would be increased from 3 to 5 activations per machine. Many customers remained unsatisfied, stating that for all intents and purposes they will be "renting" the game from EA at full price.[33][34] The 1.05 patch provided users the ability to de-authorize the game in the game settings menu.

Prior to the game's release, Corry noted the longevity of other Command & Conquer titles and acknowledged that it was unlikely that authentication servers would remain online in years to come, which would prevent future users from authenticating. Corry stated that "once the game has lived its natural life and the risk for piracy has died down, we... [will] decide to decommission the authentication servers [and] we will first make a patch available that will disable copy protection from the game."[35]

On January 8, 2009, the game became available via the Steam platform[36] with SecuROM. However on February 19, 2009 a patch was released removing SecuROM from the game;[37] it remains protected by the Steam DRM.

CD key[edit]

There has also been a stated issue with a "limited" number of copies of the game shipping with the last digit of the CD key missing from the manual.[38] EA's initial response was to "Guess" the last digit as a workaround,[39] but this was revised shortly after this was made public, to:

If you are trying to install Command and Conquer Red Alert 3 and the code is only 19 characters long, then it is missing the last letter or number. This was due to a misprint on a small number of manuals and we apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.

In order to get a replacement code, please click the "Contact Us" link on the left side of the page to send an e-mail to our team.

If you would like you can also contact us by phone using the number found on page 28 of your manual.[38]

Later EA opened a page where the missing digit can be obtained without need to contact the support, but a free account on the EA site is required.[40]

Marketing[edit]

Red Alert 3 could be preordered from August 20, 2008 and contained bonuses including the Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 game, an exclusive multiplayer map, a bonus DVD containing various films, and Red Alert 3 desktop wallpapers.[41]

Premier Edition[edit]

The Red Alert 3 Premier Edition features a soundtrack CD (including remixes of "Hell March" and "Hell March 2"), and a bonus DVD containing making-of documentaries, footage from the developers, scenes from the shooting of the game's cinematics, and strategy tips. The game also includes a code for the download of exclusive multiplayer maps and a key for a beta of a future Command and Conquer game. It comes in a Soviet-themed tin case with a poster of the women in Red Alert 3. In the UK, the Premier Edition is exclusive to retailer GAME.[42]

In Taiwan, an exclusive limited Premier Edition was released, featuring an additional item, the Dicota Red Alert 3 backpack.[43]

On September 18, 2008, EA announced that copies of Red Alert 3 would include a code to unlock an exclusive item in Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning known as the "Kossar's Helm" for a limited time.[44]

EA Singapore as well as 'Gamers.com.my' had also announced that they would be launching an exclusive Red Alert 3 Commander's Pack in Singapore and Malaysia. It was launched on October 27, 2008 for Singapore and October 28, 2008 for Malaysia. This Commander's Pack includes the C&C Red Alert 3 Premier Edition, C&C Red Alert 3 Dicota Notebook BacPac, and a Microsoft Sidewinder X6 Gaming Keyboard with Garskin Red Alert 3 decals. Exclusive posters and Soviet T-shirts were given to those who arrived earliest at the game's launch. A smaller and cheaper edition of the Commander's Pack called the Officer's Pack was also released. The Officer's Pack contained the C&C Red Alert 3 Premier Edition and C&C Red Alert 3 Dicota Notebook BacPac.[45][46]

Ultimate Edition[edit]

On January 21, 2009 EA announced that the Red Alert 3: Ultimate Edition would be released on PlayStation 3 in March.[47] According to senior development director David Seeholzer the visual quality of the game would stand up to high-definition Blu-ray definition.

According to EA, Red Alert 3 would have better graphics and performance on PlayStation 3 than the Xbox 360, thanks to the complex renderer from the PC version.[48]

However, the request of many potential customers to take advantage of the PlayStation 3's capability of using a mouse and a keyboard for gaming purposes, even with threats of not buying the product,[49] does not seem to be fulfilled. Seeholzer rather refers to the "step forward" made in developing the control interface for console, than giving a clear answer to the question in an interview with IGN.[50]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings PC: 81% (40 reviews)[58]
Metacritic PC: 81% (38 reviews)[59]
X360: 77% (15 reviews)[60]
Review scores
Publication Score
1UP.com PC: A-[51]
Game Informer 8.75/10
GamePro PC:4/5 stars[54]
GameSpot PC: 8.0/10[52]
GameSpy PC: 4/5 stars[53]
IGN PC: 8.2/10[55]
Official Xbox Magazine 9.0/10
PC Gamer UK 88%[56]
PC Gamer US 92%[57]

Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 has received generally favorable reviews with an average critic score of 81/100 on Metacritic and 81% on Game Rankings, citing a strong cooperative and multiplayer component. Although the game does not innovate much on its two predecessors and basically follows the same road of Red Alert 2, this wasn't seen as a bad thing by everyone. It has been praised for seamlessly integrating naval warfare into gameplay, generally a neglected feature in real-time strategy games, though excessive focus on this aspect has been criticized as well. The game has been praised for its less serious story and brighter, more colorful environments than those found in Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars. The decision by developers to use more "strip mines" instead of the traditional ore field has been met with mixed response.

References[edit]

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