Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2
After the hype that TS received, followed by its lukewarm reception, RA2 was met with a significantly more muted response even though it is arguably the most beloved game in the C&C franchise. With both Hitler and Stalin removed from power, Westwood conceived of another way to post a threat to ‘murica. First, the Soviets still exist even though by the time RA2 was released, in reality, the USSR had been dissolved for years, yet they have a new weapon: long-distance mind control. Now the cheeseball-factor is overwhelming. In the intro video alone, Yuri, the individual capable of mind control has the phone number to US missile control, and prevents them from executing a retaliatory nuclear strike against the Soviet invasion rather than the President himself. Although two missions into the Allied campaign, the President and General Carville are both under Soviet control, wouldn’t it have made sense to dominate them from the start? Regardless, the Soviets manage to invade America and the US only notices just as the missiles are a-flying. Fitting for this scenario, the game goes way over the top with its fantastic unit concepts!
One positive thing I can say about TS is that it created a precedent in the C&C series for absolute unit diversity, and Westwood continued what they started in RA2. Again, with the exception of the Engineer, no two units are alike—not even the MCVs (Mobile Construction Vehicle) or even the Attack Dogs, for the Allies use German Shepherds while the Soviets use Siberian Huskies. The amount of balancing that was necessary to get this game rolling had to be outrageous, and I don’t even know where to begin!
I’ll just cover faction highlights.
The Chrono Miner is one of my favorite changes and additions to the series, especially with the addition of Soviet Terror Drones. In trouble? The best resources too far away or in a location to dangerous to invest in a full expansion? Just send over the Chrono Miners and they teleport back to base! Allied GIs differ from traditional basic infantry in that they can deploy into their own bunkers, increasing the damage that they can take and dish out. I have always thought Rocketeer Infantry to be silly, but without them, the Allies have no Tier 1 defense against air units. The Chrono Legionnaire is one of the coolest units in the history of the RTS, and they are insanely OP. They can teleport anywhere on the map (though the farter they go, the more vulnerable they are until they “reappear.” They can freeze targets until they are zapped from existence forever—units or buildings. Chrono Legionnaires are stupidly powerful, but not impervious, because they are ground units with no defense from air. As far as armor is concerned, only the Prism Tank is of note in my opinion, because even though they are lightly armored, they hit so hard from so far away that the Soviets have almost no counters against them except V3 Rockets or large numbers of flak.
The Allies fair much better in the water than they did in RA. Dolphins are not only adorable, but also fast and deadly, and a good counter to Giant Squids. The new version of the Destroyer is now equipped with Osprey bomber planes that are specifically used to fight Soviet submarines. No more unreliable and weak depth charges! The Aegis Cruiser counters V3 and Dreadnought rockets, and the Aircraft Carrier replaces the Cruiser, though its self-generated planes are more accurate than the Cruiser’s bombardment even though the planes can be shot down.
Prism Towers are on par with Tesla Towers, which is the first time in C&C history that base defense options between factions are virtually a 1:1 ratio in power. The new Weather Control Device is simply Devastating, and are also practically 1:1 in power to the Soviet nuke. Of course, the Weather Control Device offers a much more unique effect both when it is ready and when it is deployed. That kind of attention to detail, right down to the lightning bolt shooting into the sky after it is used, and the ensuing storm cloud formation and radar jamming, is admirable. The same can be said of the Chronosphere, which can teleport multiple units instead of simply one like in RA. Sometimes, it is smarter to Chrono some Apocalypse Tanks onto water rather than your own units into the enemy’s base.
Soviet sea units are not as outrageously strong compared to its RA counterpart, but the Dreadnought appears as a more balanced version of the Missile Submarine, being a unit that cannot be submerged. Soviet Subs are not as strong given the counters available to Destroyers, though the Giant Squids rock just about anything that does not have a dolphin present.
Yuri’s Revenge is a fond expansion in the eyes of many, but I personally didn’t care for it specifically because it introduced too many units which broke the game. Yuri clones, Brutes, and Gattling Tanks and a slew of faction-specific additions to multiplayer jacked everything up. Even so, it was nice to play a few more campaign missions, even if players could only play with the Yuri faction in multiplayer.
CONTINUE TO PAGE 6 FOR C&C 3: TIBERIUM WARS