doubt the best strategy war game on the Playstation to date is
Command and Conquer from Westwood Studios. The fact being that the
programming team who were responsible for converting a PC game,
which was deemed too complicated to feature on the Playstation games
console, deserve the highest commendation. Adapting from keyboard to
joypad buttons and mouse to directional pad took a little getting
use to but before too long the control system seemed second nature.
With over 50 missions to play, spread over two discs, value for
money did not come into question, however there were a few grumbles
at the lack of a two player link-up mode that would have provided
the icing on the cake.
Red Alert is indeed the icing on the cake, in fact there are also a
couple of cherries on top, a huge dollop of cream in the middle and
and at least a dozen candles thrown in for good measure in a game
that will surely brighten up the gloomy winter nights. There are a
whole host of new building to construct, troops to train up and
vehicles to acquire in this prequel to C&C where relevant points
in history have been altered to provide the compelling story line.
Back in the mid 1940's a young Albert Einstein was messing around
with time travel. He hatched an ingenious plot to travel back to the
days when Hitler was a youth and remove him from the picture. In
doing this he inadvertently leaves the way open for a certain
Russian dictator, Joseph Stalin, to march his troops across Europe
and create a whole new threat to mankind. Your mission is to assume
the role as Commander of the Allied or Soviet forces during an
alternative Second World War. Command or Conquer, the choice is
& Conquer: Red Alert is a strategic war game. The player
controls a number of platoons and vehicles by using a simple point
and click method to issue your units with orders. Victory is
achieved when you either complete your level mission or simply blow
the crap out of every opponent on the map. Isn't war a thing of
The game comes packaged on two CD's allowing you the option to play
one of the two distinct fighting forces, Allies or Soviet. This
offers two games in one as the missions for each side are completely
different providing an alternative outcome.
I say two games in one, but I stand corrected as there are actually
five games contained within the Red Alert package. Skirmish mode
allows one player to battle against one, two or three CPU controlled
opponents in a fight to the end. Then there is Link-up mode where
two Playstations are connected via a link cable and two monitors. In
this mode you can battle it out with a mate in a head to head war
over several special terrains. CPU teams may be added to offer an
alternative tactical event.
action in Red Alert is once again intermingled with many stunning
FMV clips that have become part and parcel of the C&C series.
Real actors provide a constant update of the unfolding story while
some of the action scenes are genuine movie quality.
The in-game graphics have been vastly improved from the original
Playstation game. Although they are still small, the units now look
sharper and less blocky. Vehicles omit a trail of smoke as the
damage begins to take it's toll, building smoulder as they are about
to collapse while explosions are now even more realistic. When
troops are annihilated they leave a smear of blood near their open
graves which offers further insight into the horrors of war. The
battlefields have lost that barren look as fighting now takes place
over a wide range of terrain. Rivers run through richly cultivated
civilian towns, oceans allow the war to spread onto the sea and,
because the Russians are involved, there is lots and lots of snow
spread around some of the levels. In the aftermath of battle the
ground is covered with craters and scorch marks from aerial bombing
raids which again was a nice touch.
All of the tiny sprites still manage to have their own individual
look and personality, making it easier to tell the Commandos from
the Engineers and the Rocket launchers from the Medium Tanks. They
all move smoothly and at different speeds, carrying out attacking
and defending maneuvers independently of each other.
I don't wish to spend too much time on the graphical content as the
Command and Conquer series is all about gameplay and Red Alert has
that in abundance.
click on each unit with the cursor will activate awareness from your
troops with a simple "Yes Sir"," Right away Sir"
or "Ready and waiting". Your orders are acknowledged with
a response of "Affirmative" just to let you know that they
understand your command and are on their way. Throughout the
building process your actions are confirmed by the dulcet tones of a
military overseer who gives you the nod when equipment has been
constructed and more importantly, when your base is being attacked
by those sneaky foes.
All of the weapons used by your troops have their own firing and
exploding sounds which when combined recreate the tense atmosphere
of bloody warfare.
The background music is precisely that. It stays where it belongs.
Now that's okay with me because tunes that accompany movies such as
The Dam Busters and The Great Escape tend to send you a little
gun-ho and that is certainly not the frame of mind to play Red
do I start with a game that is as deeply gratifying as Red Alert?
Okay, single player mode seems like a good starting point.
After settling back and enjoying the FMV intro the option screen
comes up to give you a nudge. Selection between Allies and Soviets
matters not as you will undoubtedly end up playing both. The main
difference is that the Allies tend to use foot soldiers and
helicopters while at sea they are treated to Landing Boats,
Cruisers, Destroyers and Gunships. The Soviets on the other hand
train killer dogs, rather crap submarines and a wonderful range of
air power that includes a spy plane and a rather splendid aircraft
that parachutes men behind the enemy lines. Both sides get to use
various forms of military tanks, vehicles and troop carriers.
Before each scenario you receive a briefing where the objective is
explained to you. The missions vary from 'wiping out all building
and enemy troops' to 'sneaking a spy into your opponents tech
centre'. Not all of the missions take place outside as some involve
sneaking around a fortified castle.
The whole view of the game is from above and to make your task more
challenging, at the start of each level the entire battleground is
blacked out, giving you no idea where the enemy is located. This
forces you to set a few troops off on a scouting mission, to locate,
but not disturb the enemy. In practice this is a very simple task,
just hold the X button on the control pad and move the cursor over
the troops and vehicles you wish to assign. As these scouts move,
they uncover their surrounding area for all to see.
Using the money that is electronically deposited into your bank
account at the start of each mission, you must first build a
construction yard and then a power station to energize it. Barracks
provide facilities for training up troops, weapons factories allow
you build vehicles such as rocket launchers, tanks, mine layers and
APC's, while on the defensive side there are flamethrowing
contraptions, a wonderful electric pylon that frazzles anything that
gets within range, gun turrets and camouflage pillars. All of this
construction costs money which is collected by mining trucks that
venture over the battlefield in search of valuable minerals. You
need to keep an eye on the trucks at all times, during its search
for wealth it will probably stray into enemy territory and get blown
to pieces because the drivers are one hell of a set of dumb mothers.
So now you have the basics. The trouble is, the enemy are also
mining and building. They may well greatly outnumber you in both
numbers and weaponry. Many is the time when you will be happily
building up your forces only to be ambushed by the enemy in a quick
surprise attack, blowing up your factory, destroying your barracks
and stealing your wealth. Yeah that's right, you don't have to
destroy everything, you can acquire engineers that can sneak into
enemy buildings and make them yours!
This means that you always have to consider that the enemy is
building up its forces as well as you, so just waiting and waiting
until you have piles of cash to spend on loads of heavy artillery
just isn't the answer. Sometimes a quick and clever attack at the
start of the level (when the enemy is still weak) can be the best
The control system allows you to assign troops to defend your base
and they will automatically engage the enemy if they get too close.
You can split your forces into groups, sending some through the
enemies front door, while simultaneously sneaking another group
through the back door. Very quickly you will be carrying out quite
complicated tactics with ease and without a technical manual in
Vast improvement in the gameplay comes from the new items of
military hardware. As many levels include some sort of sea to cross
you can construct a shipyard and begin producing warships. This adds
even more depth to the game as you must now ponder a while before
building your construction yard. Too near to the shore line and a
fleet of battleships will float up behind you and bomb the crap out
of your base, too far away and the enemy will quickly surround your
camp with similar results.
If you get fed up with those nuisance rocketeers and riflemen
sniping your tanks then why not construct a couple of dog kennels.
These allow you to train up a pack of vicious alsatians and then set
them onto the foot soldiers with remarkable results. You can also
place them as guard dogs around your camp and should a soldier get
within sniffing distance, the dogs will take off like a shot to feed
on their prey. Of course they can always be squashed by a rolling
tank or fried on a skewer by the wonderful flamethrowing troops, but
what the hell - this is war.
So where is the enemy camp? Ah, a common problem and could only be
discovered in the original game by sending out a small unit or a
kamikaze squad to stumble across. Not anymore because now you can
construct a building that allows you to train spies. That's right,
an undercover sleuth will don a disguise then wander through the
enemy encampment and the fools will not even batter an eyelid. This
will uncover the misty terrain so you can keep an eye on the enemies
construction progress and be forewarned of an impending attack.
There is a down side to this dastardly deed. Dogs. Yes, those
vicious canines can sniff out your enemy spy and sink think razor
sharp fangs in his butt.
Aside from the standard single player game there is the option to
practice the two player mode by selecting the Skirmish option.
Select from five countries, sixteen maps and up to three CPU
controlled teams in a battle to the death. You decide on how many
units each team will begin with and how many credits are deposited
into the bank. There are also options to regrow the covering shroud
and regrow the deposits of ore. While you are playing in this mode
you may occasionally come across a small golden crate. By touching
it you will unveil the mystery contents - some good, some bad. You
may reveal a stash of cash, a powerful tank, another mining
vehicle..... or it may blow right up in your face destroying all
Red Alert is superior to C&C in all departments but the gap is
further widened by the inclusion of a two-player link-up mode.
Yippee! You can now set up a Skirmish against your best mate by
connecting two TV's, two Playstations and one disc in each for an
event that nobody, but nobody should miss out on. There are sixteen
special battlefields where each player is dropped upon with minimal
supplies. Your future is then in your own hands.
Do you quickly seek out your foe and damage their base?
Do you gather as much wealth as quickly as possible and attack with
Do you construct a heavily defended fortress and cower behind your
The possibilities are limitless.
will be many readers out there who were put off playing Command and
Conquer because of it's seemingly 'stuffy' style of gameplay. I mean
who wants to play boring war games, that's for geriatrics. You are
wrong in your assumption. C&C Red Alert is griping, thought
provoking and probably the most addictive game I have ever played.
If you purchased C&C then don't miss this game. Red Alert is
If you are a C&C maiden then go ahead and break your virginity
with a two player link-up experience. I guarantee that you will
always remember your first time.
a single player game Red Alert has so much depth and playability
that I would recommend any strategy fan to purchase this product.
With the inclusion of link-up mode I would say that any gameplayer
who doesn't buy this game is stark raving mad.
I can't get to sleep at nights for dreaming up tactics to destroy
my kid brother. He is so good at this game it makes me sick. I issue
this warning :- one day, I tell you one day......
If there is one flaw with the game it is when you link-up with a
second player and include either one or two CPU teams. There is too
much movement for the console to cope with and the game will suffer
several periods of frustrating slow down. However, as the inclusion
of CPU teams is a bonus then you really can't blame Westwood for the
is easily my favourite PlayStation release of 1997. Westwood have
managed to create a game that while being very difficult at parts,
never gets frustrating to the point of wanting to give up and play
The addition of the two player link-up mode gives this game
lastability and opens it up to much younger players, who will get
loads of fun out of just building up hundreds of troops and sending
them all at once to face their enemy.