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by Electronic Arts

lg_screen9-01.jpg (10873 bytes)Red Alert 2 the most recent in the Command and Conquer series of RTS games has just expanded in the form of an expansion pack to rival the original game for both story and game play. Those of you who liked the original will love this expansion even more. This game continues with the same partially cartoon like and sometimes goofy themes that Red Alert and Red Alert 2 have both been based on. New units continue to follow the cartoon like style and give the player some laughs along the way. It is however slightly different and I will outline some of the differences here.

lg_screen7-01.jpg (9647 bytes)Most noticeable of the things that set this expansion off from the original are the units. This expansion changes the units drastically by throwing in a new and totally different enemy who takes some of the Soviet units and add them to its own and unique arsenal. Yuri, formally scientist and Agent of the Soviets, has returned with his own new army fully stocked with his own brand of weapons. On the unit side of his army he gets a menagerie of units ranging from gun toting clones to big mind controlling brain tanks and even branches into mutations. Yuri’s army introduces a new battle for your army, the struggle for their minds. Mind controlling devices and units corrupt your units giving full control to the whims of Yuri. Be it leader or peasant most units will fall to the mind controlling devices of Yuri’s army. In addition you will face the menacing tank bashing incredible hulks capable of ripping even the strongest of vehicles to shreds. What more Yuri can generate these mutations among your own men turning them against you. Once you have dealt with the mind controlling whims and tank bashing hulks of Yuri you still must contend with his home base which is now protected by an interesting device of the past, the gattling canon. This cannon protects the base from many levels of attack with the ability to hit both air and ground units. All this gives the army of Yuri a distinct advantage against both the Allies and the Soviets. Allies and Soviets are not left totally defenseless against the army of Yuri, they have new units of their own. Robot tanks bolster the Allies’ defense and attack giving them the ability to ignore the effects of Yuri’s mind control with these units. Soviet forces now have a quick attack air unit and a new artillery unit all in the form of a attack helicopter that can change into artillery upon landing and giving them both quick attack and damage all in one unit. I have only listed a few of the new units and advances that you can get in this expansion and I will leave them for you to discover for yourselves.

lg_screen8-01.jpg (9696 bytes)Story is again a bit on the unbelievable side but that is just the way that Red Alert has been and always will be. The story surrounds the soviet Agent Yuri who builds devices to control the population of the world and make them his slaves. As the allies you travel time to defeat Yuri’s plan before it is even complete, and get some help from former friends from Red Alert 2. You even travel to Yuri dominated Hollywood and free the actors there who are being forced to film a dinosaur movie later you go into Antarctica to fight the forces of Yuri and destroy one of his domination devices. In the Soviet campaign you steal the Allied time machine and stop Yuri but also take the opportunity to win the original war between the Allies and Soviets. Soviet missions are quite a bit more fun and start out with a quick trip back in time in which you end up fighting dinosaurs. Through out the Soviet missions you visit many different environments and fight a greater assortment of Yuri’s devices than in the allied missions. You even go to the moon as the soviets and your leaders rejoice as Russians finally land on the moon. This new story comes complete with 17 new between mission videos and various in play videos. All the videos still feature the same actors as the original in their slightly goofy but totally enjoyable roles giving the movie sequences a life of their own and a well deserved place in this expansion.

lg_screen11-01.jpg (10124 bytes)Multiplayer is yet again a place where this game shines and still relies on the same tactics to make it a balanced game. Multiplayer games are bolstered by the pre-game abilities to chose your starting position and choose your allies. Also the new coop levels are a refreshing break from blowing up all your friends. Like the original this expansion uses pure destruction to keep peoples’ interests and it does it well. All the new units and buildings add to the balancing act of this game in which every side has powerful and destructive units so that there is no distinct advantage to anyone, except if they are actually better than their opponent. A new badge system helps set players apart from other players by awarding badges for certain achievements such as beating all 4 of the coop campaigns, and making the top 1000 standing in any given month. Quick match games now affect your rank on the Westwood online ladders and a new quick coop option allows you to quickly enter a game with another person and fight a random coop battle.

lg_screen3-01.jpg (10457 bytes)Downsides of this game are small and unimportant but I will list a few of them anyway. One thing is that this game is too easy if played in any mode but hard and still relatively easy in that mode. Playing this game in easy or medium modes gave me a less enjoyable experience overall and playing in hard made some of the game experiences a little bit more enjoyable, namely that instead of fighting nothing you actually end up seeing units to blow up. Second, in the first mission of the allied campaign Tanya gets blown up and it does not affect the game play at all even though it says she will be out of commission for a while.

lg_screen2-01.jpg (10763 bytes)The monster that is Command and Conquer gets a new breath of life with this all new expansion. Great interplay of new units and mixing up of old ones gives this game a whole new taste without having to much change in the way the game is played. As expansions go this one is among the best for tying itself into the original game thus making it a truly enjoyable experience in the Red Alert world. All around this expansion stays true to the Red Alert style and story making it a good buy for all you Red Alert fans.

Jonathan Park   (11/08/2001)


Ups: Classic C&C play; new units; new missions; great multiplayer.

Downs: Possibly too easy?

Platform: PC

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