The Command and Conquer series is often credited with popularizing the real-time strategy game on PCs and beyond. Kitschy and laden with sci-fi tropes, the Command and Conquer series went on to inspire a spin-off set called Red Alert, of which 2008’s Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 is the third mainline installment in that separate series. Think of Call of Duty: Black Ops but for the RTS set.
Download Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3
Probably the single largest provider of fodder for action flicks in the 1980s, the Cold War is long dead and buried but that doesn’t mean games don’t revisit its themes from time to time.
Some even posit alternative histories altogether and ask “What if?” the struggle between the Soviet Union and the United States had never ended.
Though few people would claim that Command and Conquer was a serious game series, even fewer would argue that Red Alert was a serious game. At its heart, however, the gameplay mechanics and underlying logic of Red Alert’s gameplay is deadly serious even if its narrative is not.
Imagining a world in which the Soviet Union and the United States still struggle against one another for hegemony, Red Alert combines tropes from 1980s action films with 1950s red-scare communism myths for a narrative and gameplay structure that is off the walls but totally unique.
In fact, it is hard not to notice how much more overtly charming the Red Alert series is when compared to the mainline games that spawned it.
This third game even involves time travel and alternative ends for World War II. There are three main factions for players to choose from: the Allies, the Soviets, and Empire of the Rising Sun (the Japanese).
To flesh out the central narrative, Hollywood luminaries like George Takei and Tim Curry star as ensemble actors in full-motion video sequences that mimic the look and feel of the original Command and Conquer FMV sequences.
Basically, the game hearkens back to its past and its fanbase while also trying some new, zany stuff at the same time. It is pretty glorious if a bit shorter than other games in the series.
To extend the lifespan of the game, however, Red Alert III has some of the best multiplayer RTS outside of StarCraft. You can set up custom matches and face off against foes with a variety of objectives in different game modes. While later games might come down to who has mastered hotkeys and mechanics more thoroughly, Red Alert III’s old-school sensibilities in this area are refreshing when compared to the somewhat overly structure experiences offered online today.
A great game for fans of Command and Conquer and a real showcase of how effective not taking yourself too seriously can be, Red Alert III is a great game in a storied franchise that helped popularize real-time strategy games for many people.
- Addictive and intuitive gameplay mechanics
- An interesting (and crazy) story
- Hollywood FMV sequences are that extra EXTRA touch that lets you know that Command and Conquer hasn’t forgotten their fans
- Short campaign
- The three factions don’t seem remarkably different from one another
- Online multiplayer might be tough since the game is over a decade old at this point.