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Command & Conquer: Red Alert

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Released: 1996

Genre: Strategy

Format reviewed: PlayStation

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Developer: Westwood Studios

Submitted by: Clarance Frank

Command and Conquer is a real time strategy that takes key elements from Dune II and improves on them in every area – the game map is much larger, there are more military buildings and units to develop, and with these additional units comes a much greater complexity and depth to the gameplay.

Red Alert continues the storyline of the original, sort of – Einstein, Hitler and Stalin all somehow become involved, and battle commences. In a nut-shell, what we have here is conflict between the Allies and the Soviets featuring a host of conventional and unconventional weapons in a strange alternative reality. Each side have certain technological strengths and weaknesses, and it’s up to the player to develop a strategy in each campaign map to play to strengths and exploit the enemies’ deficiencies.

The fun of C&C comes in building up your armies ready for a big set piece battle – fulfilling all those Action Man fantasies during childhood – while building up an impenetrable defensive stronghold that will keep your armies safe against a constantly skirmishing enemy. And all the way through the amazing soundtrack subtly changes to reflect the current action.

Completion of each campaign reveals more of the cheesy storyline as well as introducing more military technology and vehicles to play with. The campaigns really suck the player into the C&C world, and it’s not uncommon to play this game right through the night – addictive. After the campaigns have been completed there’s a skirmish mode to be enjoyed – campaign maps can be chosen to battle against up to three computer opponents (and a human opponent as well via the link cable), and the repeat play here for me is phenomenal!

Although a mouse can be used on the PS, the vast majority of users are going to be using a PS controller to direct the action, and this works well, fine tuning the control system used in the first game of the series on the PS.

Westwood invented the real-time-strategy genre as we know it today, and certainly C&C Red Alert marks a high point in the genre’s development.