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A.P.I Review: COMMAND & CONQUER
RED ALERT RETALIATION
Developer: Westwood Studios OPTIONS: S.SHOT
SCREENSHOTS:
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: Electronic Arts 1-2 Player Link-Up
Game Type: Strategy War Game Memory Card
Review Date: October 1998 Mouse Compatible

Setting the Scene


Shhh!  Listen everybody!  As part of my therapy I am now standing up 
and wish to relay this message.

"I am addicted to Red Alert link-up mode!   I must have my weekly fix 
of skirmishing with the enemy or else I will go completely insane."  
There... I said it!  The truth is now out.  Boy, do I feel better.  
One vice down, two to go (mind your own business!).

The Command & Conquer strategy war series has been around for ages on 
the PC having accumulated a hard-core set of fans.  Transition over 
to Playstation was always doubtful.  I mean... these type of war games 
were for geeks, not the thoroughly modern man that was being portrayed 
as your 32-bit Mr Average.  Wrong!  

The original PSX title sold in it's millions and was considered a fair 
challenge.  Last years sequel, Red Alert, proved far more formidable 
but was forgiven due to the inclusion of that wonderful link-up mode 
which has taken up so much of my recent life.  The third in the series 
begins where Red Alert ended.  If Retaliation was Doom it would be a 
Cyber Demon.  If it was Tekken 3 it would surely be Heihachi Mishima.  
If it were Gran Turismo it would definitely be Stage 11, A-International.  
Retaliation is rock!  Dare you accept the challenge.       

The Command & Conquer world is a different place. There never was a 
World War II - as least not yet. Hitler never rose to power.  Instead, 
Joseph Stalin's Soviet empire storms Europe and the Allied Forces fight 
to hold on to their sovereignty. 

While the war rages on, Allied and Soviet scientists are hard at work 
perfecting forbidden technologies.  What they are about to unleash is 
so devastating, the entire strategy of war will have to be rethought.

It is time for you to harness these new technologies to bring the enemy 
to his knees. Now you decide the ultimate fate of the struggle between 
the Allies and Soviets. It is time for Retaliation.

Genre


Retaliation is a strategic war game that contains 34 Red Alert missions 
never before seen on the PlayStation, more than 100 Multiplayer maps, 
seven new units and 16 new battle songs.

Retaliation will also have 19 new video mission briefings, half of which 
star Barry Corbin (Northern Exposure, WarGames), who plays the Allied 
general.

As with Red Alert for the PlayStation game console, Retaliation will 
support the Mouse and Link Cable. There's also a skirmish mode, so you 
can practice new strategies against AI players before using them on your 
next victim. Players will be able to save their games at the start of a 
mission by using a memory card.

Graphics


Anyone who has witnessed or played a Command & Conquer game before will 
have noted that the graphics are usually termed as 'functional'.  I 
completely disagree with this terminology.  You name any other game that 
can cope with a couple of squadrons of rifle infantrymen, grenadiers and 
rocket soldiers on the screen at the same time!  Let alone when there's 
also half a dozen tanks, rocket launchers, artillery, a couple of ore 
trucks and a fleet of ships or subs constantly moving around.    

Regardless, they are very similar to those seen in Red Alert.  If you 
haven't cast eyes over over a C&C game then I'll attempt to explain.  
All of the vehicles, troops and building are constructed from sprites.  
They still manage to have their own individual look and personality, 
making it easier to tell the Infantry from the Engineers and the Rocket 
Launchers from the Mammoth Tanks.  Everything moves smoothly and at 
different speeds, carrying out attacking and defending maneuvers 
independently of each other.  All of the building have their own 
individual design and shape, although team colors remain constant 
throughout.  After playing the game for only a few hours you will 
quickly be able to determine which is your war factory and which is 
the barracks.

The visual effects are excellent, especially when a trooper is 
electrocuted by a tesla strike.  When tanks sustain near-maximum 
damage a small puff of smoke warns of it's impending demise.  Total 
destruction of a vehicle leaves a small crater in the earth from the 
resulting explosion, while the surrounding area of ground remains 
burned by scorch marks.  Each shot fired in anger can be seen to move 
towards it's intended target, whether it be a grenade lobbed by hand 
(a small flash) or a nuclear warhead smashing down on an enemy base 
(a huge mushroom cloud).

Retaliation has it's fair share of FMV movies dispersed throughout 
the game immaculately presented and well acted out.  Before most 
missions your commanding officer will sit in front of the screen and 
explain your orders in detail.  After a successful mission an 
accompanying movie is shown, which although high in quality, is very 
short in duration.  Sadly these visual treats have now become so 
scant that a blink of the eye would miss them.

Sounds and Effects


To be perfectly honest I always prefer to switch off the music when 
playing these type of games.  The reason being is nothing to do with 
the standard of tunes, more that I would rather be instantly alerted 
to my troops cries for help than be distracted by a foot tapping rhythm.  
For those interested there are 13 pieces of high quality techno music 
to accompany your march across the battle field.

The game sound effects are brilliant and bring a little humor into the 
morbid world of warfare.  Each trooper and vehicle responds with an 
instant "Yes, Sir!" or "Vehicle reporting!" to your every command in an 
accent that will bring a wry smile to your face.  The sound that a 
trooper makes when he is killed depends on the means of his death.  A 
bullet will provide a short, sharp, "Uggh!".  An exploding rocket offers 
a surprised "Blugghh!".  While death by flamethrower sends out a 
lingering scream of pain as the fire bubbles up the flesh... sort of 
a "Yeeeaarrhhfuggaaahh... uggh!"

There is also a sort of in-game 'commentator' who warns you when your 
base is being attacked and when each building under construction is 
ready to be located.  A most helpful chap!

Playability


For those new to the Command & Conquer range of games I'll attempt to 
convert you by describing the style of gameplay (the rest of you can 
skip the next few paragraphs).  First you get a choice of playing a 
campaign, a skirmish or a link-up skirmish.  Then you must decide 
which side of the fence you prefer to fight on - Soviet or Allied.  
Actually you will end up playing both because each side has their own 
set of missions on a separate disc.  Dependant on the side you choose 
will decide on your selection of weapons.

Campaign is the single player mode involving varying missions and tasks.  
Before the level begins your commander will brief you on your main 
objective which must be completed to win the battle.  This could be as 
'simple' as destroying all enemy presence in the area... to single 
handedly sneaking a spy into their camp and stealing secret documents.  

Retaliation missions offer more variation than past C&C game with many 
interesting fresh tasks such as poisoning the water system by dumping 
the contents of a supply truck into a waterfall.  There are also 
occasions where Soviet civilians speak out against their countries 
involvement in Western Europe, therefore you are ordered to slaughter 
the dissidents.  It doesn't matter that these happen to be men, women 
and children... orders are orders.

When your mission begins you usually start off with only a couple of 
troops and trucks alongside a mobile construction vehicle.  Decide 
where you wish to build up your base and then press the action button 
to see the mobile vehicle unfold into a construction yard.  This 
building is the heart of your operation and must be protected at all 
costs.  Within the immediate vicinity of the yard you can now begin 
expanding your camp.  

First you need to construct a power plant to provide electricity to your 
buildings.  Next you require an ore refinery which sends out a truck to 
collect valuable minerals - these precious stones bring in the money to 
finance your construction.  Barracks allow troops to be trained.  War 
Factories produce tanks, rocket launchers, artillery.  Naval bases 
provide ships and subs.  Airfield planes and choppers etc.  

Obviously once your base is established you will need to protect your 
investment.  For this purpose there are various forms of immovable 
weapons and structures that may be placed around your base such as gun 
turrets, tesla coils, mine fields, concrete walls and wire fencing.

At any time the enemy may wage an attack on your base and you won't 
have a clue when this is about to happen.  This is because all of the 
terrain that has not been crossed by your troops is completely blacked 
out.  This encourages the sending out of small hit squads to see what 
danger lies up ahead.  Once an area has been revealed it will remain 
visible for the remainder of the game.

Not all the missions take place in the open.  Several involve moving a 
number of troops through a maze of underground bunkers (I hate those 
levels!) while avoiding getting slaughtered.

Controlling each troop or vehicle is simply a matter of pointing your 
cursor on them and then clicking at the point you wish them to move.  
By dragging your cursor a group of vehicles and men may be all ordered 
to move to the same position.  A mouse is preferable, but the game 
works fine using a standard control pad.

Skirmish mode can be played as a single player game against up to three 
CPU controlled opponents, or by far the best experience is to link-up 
two Playstations and take on a mate with up to two CPU opponents.  
There are 105 maps within skirmish mode (including the same maps from 
Red Alert) which should allow you to wage each war in unfamiliar 
surroundings for many, many months.

Those who have already been converted to Command & Conquer strategy 
games will be wondering what's new about Retaliation.  I'll tell you!  

There are 34 brand new missions that take place in the snow, mountains 
and fields across Europe.       

Apart from the now standard aircraft, helicopters, paratroopers, repair 
bays, turrets, tesla, mine layers, transporters, ships, subs and ore 
tucks there are many new units that will be available for solo and multiplay:

*  The Tesla Tank, which fires long range electric blasts. The electric 
discharge also scrambles enemy radar.  Taking the Tesla Coil's destruction 
into the field, the Tesla Tank is a valuable addition to the Soviet arsenal.  
With its long range and powerful electrical discharges, the Tesla Tank is 
effective in both offensive and defensive roles.  As an added bonus, the 
electrical discharge from the Tesla Tank also jams enemy radar.  Used in 
conjunction with normal Tesla Coils, Tesla Tanks provide added security 
against Allied assaults, and ensure that low-power conditions won't hurt 
Soviet defenses.

*  Shock Troopers, who carry portable Tesla generators capable of giving 
the enemy a deadly jolt of power. They can't be run over by enemy vehicles.  
Another use of Tesla's inventions, Shock Troopers are sturdy (if somewhat 
slow) infantry units that carry a portable Tesla generator, capable of 
delivering large jolts of electricity to any unit or structure.  Well 
worth the price, Shock Troopers can not be run over by enemy vehicles.

*  Missile Subs, which can cruise underwater without notice, then surface 
and attack land targets with long range missiles.  Realizing their navy 
lacked first-strike capability, the Soviet Empire has developed a new 
class of submarine capable of launching attacks on inland targets.  The 
Missile Sub's weapons are nearly as powerful as those of the dreaded 
Allied Cruiser, with the added advantage that they can submerge and 
surface before the enemy knows what hit them.

*  The Chronotank, capable of teleporting anywhere on the battlefield. 
It's armed with heat-seeking missiles.  The ChronoTank is the latest 
advancement in Allied technology.  When fully charged, the unit has the 
unique ability to Chronoshift itself, allowing it to appear anywhere on 
the battlefield.  Its missile launchers are accurate and fast, adding 
punch to any assault.  Unlike the regular Chronosphere ability, the 
ChronoTank will not automatically return to its original pre-shift location.


*  The Demolition Truck, your own portable nuclear bomb.  These drone 
units carry an atomic bomb triggered to detonate on impact or destruction.  
Targeting a Demolition Truck on any unit or structure, or force firing on 
terrain will make the truck move to its destination and detonate.  Care 
with their use is advised­many a foolish commander has lost his base when 
an air strike destroyed the Demolition Truck before it could leave the 
confines of the base.

*  The M.A.D. Tank, which sends out a shockwave that damages vehicles and 
buildings.  The M.A.D. Tank, or Mutually Assured Destruction Tank, is a 
final-solution weapon.  Once activated, it builds up a powerful harmonic 
shock wave.  When fully charged, it detonates, destroying itself and 
damaging every unit and structure within a large radius around it.  
However, infantry are unaffected by its detonation.  If the unit is 
destroyed before it detonates, the destructive effect is neutralized.

*  The Field Mechanic, your best friend when your legion of tanks is in 
need of a tune up.  A new trooper for the Allies, the mechanic can 
repair vehicles in the field.  Slow and unarmored, he is an easy target 
for Soviet infantry and tanks.  However, his ability to repair any 
nearby friendly units more than makes up for his lack of defense.  Like 
the medic, the mechanic takes time to repair a unit to full strength.

*  In Retaliation, a new ranking system allows mission progression through 
four theaters of war for both the Allied and Soviet missions. Access to 
each theater depends upon the your rank, and as your rank rises so does 
the difficulty of the missions. After beating all of the missions for 
either side, you achieve the rank of general and get to see a new final 
Allied or Soviet movie.

The missions in Retaliation are divided into four theaters of war for 
both the Allied and Soviet sides moving across Ukraine, Austria, France, 
Spain and finally England.

Value for Money


If you are already a convert to the Command & Conquer strategy war games 
then Retaliation is a must buy title.  The difficulty begins at the point 
where Red Alert finished and with four secret missions as your reward for 
completion, Retaliation will takes an age to complete.

For the uninitiated among you I would suggest that you first purchase Red 
Alert before even thinking about Retaliation.  No point beginning at the 
top of the ladder.  Enjoy the journey up.
Opinion
MARTIN
GRAPHICS: 16/20 Stuff the missions, Retaliation is worth it's weight in gold for the link-up mode alone. For those who are concerned about the slow down when including two CPU controlled teams into your own private war then I believe we have worked out the reason. Apparently if any of the CPU vehicle becomes jammed inside it's base then the game virtually grinds to a stop. It may be risky.. but if you can manage to get a few troops near the blocked vehicle and launch a few shots then the game should return to normal speed.

The mission are more of the same, only far more difficult to complete. Thankfully those annoying password saves of the past have been replaced by the more gratifying Memory Card system. Should you finish the game in it's entirety then you are rewarded with four new missions where the enemies are Giant Ants. Brilliant!
SOUND: 8/10
PLAYABILITY: 49/50
VALUE: 20/20
OVERALL 93%

 

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