Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 Impressions - First Look

This whimsical real-time strategy series takes place in a world where the Cold War never ended. We take a look at the next chapter.

It's been quite a while since we last checked on the Command & Conquer: Red Alert games, but maybe the time is right for a new chapter. The classic formula of real-time strategy games is built on harvesting resources, constructing a base, and churning out armies to crush your opponents before they can do the same, but this unusual strategy series was built around an alternate history. This is a world in which the so-called Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States never ended, and in which all the potential of experimental technology from that era, from the Manhattan Project to Tesla coils, was actually realized as devastating (and in some cases, fantastical) weapons on the battlefield. The series is set to return with Red Alert 3, a new game built on the modern Command & Conquer 3 Tiberium Wars engine, but with all the over-the-top enthusiasm of a summer blockbuster popcorn movie. We recently had a chance to take a look at the game in motion.

Red Alert 3 will return to an alternate-history universe in which the Cold War never ended.

Like with the previous games in the series, Red Alert 3 will take place during the extended Cold War--in this case, just after the Soviet assassination of one Albert Einstein by means of the recently discovered technology of limited time travel. Yes, time travel. As lead producer Chris Corry explains, the Red Alert universe is much more of a humorous and playful place, perhaps because all of the outlandish technology that was being researched at the time seemed plausible. What if time machines had worked? And if they did, why not circus cannons that launch armored, parachuting bears over walls into enemy territory? No, we're not making that up. Yes, parachuting bears are actually in the game, and they're supposed to be very powerful units, because they are bears, after all.

Along with the bears will come more than an hour's worth of full-motion video cinematics featuring the kind of Hollywood talent you might expect from a C&C game. Considering the setting of the game this time around, the actors (who have not been revealed yet) may be given a little extra leeway to chew the scenery a bit, along with a colorful look and feel that's suitable for the game's lighthearted tone.

Yet although the game will attempt to maintain its ties to classic C&C conventions such as full-motion video cutscenes and the "fast, fluid" style of gameplay that characterized Command & Conquer 3, Red Alert 3 will still be going in some very different directions. For starters, the conflict will no longer be confined to a two-sided war between the armies of the Allies and the Soviet forces. Yes, Red Alert will now have a third playable faction: the Empire of the Rising Sun, a faction inspired by World War II Japan, which we saw in action briefly. In addition, the game will not only feature a full campaign and competitive multiplayer, but also a cooperative mode that will let you play through the game with either computer-controlled allies or a human friend.

The game will have fast-paced gameplay, naval strategy, and bears that you can shoot out of cannons.

The game will also feature a tweaked pace that perhaps won't end as quickly as some top-level matches of Command & Conquer 3 do, perhaps to let players explore more strategic options and get a chance to research the most powerful military units and superweapons at the very top of the line. In addition, you'll probably need a little extra time for exploring, given that Red Alert 3 will also distinguish itself from most other real-time strategy games by having a highly integrated naval game. Interestingly, the naval game will be crucial to victory in Red Alert 3. Not only will the game feature units that are seafaring-only as well as amphibious (can operate on either land or water), but it'll also include resource nodes in water and will even let you build bases in water. As such, if you decide to not get your feet wet, your opponents may be able to develop larger and richer holdings than you by seizing water-bound resources, and you may not even be able to reach your enemies to attack their base if they're out in the water and all you have are land-bound tanks.

We were able to watch a brief demonstration that showed the kind of back-and-forth gameplay you'll see in a typical match. It began with Soviet forces using a standard MCV (mobile construction vehicle) attempting to build up a small, landlocked base. The Soviets will apparently be able to develop new bases very quickly, but their unfinished structures will be especially vulnerable to damage while they're still being built. We watched the Soviets build a refinery to harvest a nearby resource node, as well as a handful of energy generators, and then move on to an infantry barracks. The barracks were used to commission the infamous C&C engineer unit, which has the ability to seize buildings. In Red Alert 3, the engineer unit is also equipped with an amphibious raft. The engineer hopped into the nearby water to take control of a lighthouse on a small island, and control of this structure opened up a massive line of sight that revealed a huge enemy installation. The Soviet faction then built a handful of sickles, which are mechanical walker units with antipersonnel armaments, though these units were quickly plastered by allied air units that bombed out the base.

Undaunted, the Soviets rebuilt their base, this time churning out bullfrog walkers with antiair flak cannons that shredded the returning Allied flyers. What followed was a constant back-and-forth struggle as land, air, and sea units from all three factions took each other on in a grand game of rock-paper-scissors--a balance philosophy that will clearly be at the heart of the game's unit design. We watched as antiair vehicles took down flyers, while getting trashed by antivehicle units, only to be bombed back into the stone age by naval destroyer ships. The remaining units on each side got mopped up by huge King Oni mechs from the new Empire faction, which we saw very little of otherwise.

Red Alert 3 aims to offer over-the-top gameplay with tongue-in-cheek humor.

Interestingly, Red Alert 3 will also feature multiple terrain heights. Units on high ground will enjoy a tactical advantage in terms of line of sight and offensive advantage, whereas units on low ground won't even be able to see their elevated enemies. This makes leaping units such as the Soviet bullfrog walkers extremely useful, as well as the aforementioned parachuting bears--who will, incidentally, be vulnerable to antiair fire while they're falling from the sky.

It's clear from what we've seen that Red Alert 3 won't exactly offer the kind of buttoned-down, deadly serious experience you might have seen in other, more straightforward strategy games, but it should still clearly offer plenty of strategic depth, especially given the new naval gameplay. Even in its early state, the game looks excellent visually and has a bright, colorful appearance that works well with its humorous tone and over-the-top units. Keep an eye on GameSpot for more updates as we approach the game's release later this year.

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Discussion

315 comments
Gojuka
Gojuka

Argh! Why change the formula? I don't really like the idea of a lighthearted Cold War. There's the new battlefield game for that!

DarthReaperx
DarthReaperx

Puts a new spin on the "Russian Bear", heh heh heh.

xialon
xialon

Game looks even better then Tiberium Wars. However, I don't understand why they call this a RTS game. Company of Heroes is a RTS. Spamming mobs on units is not called stragety. Oh. That is why they call it RTS. Real Time Spamming.

sauron901
sauron901

woo hoo parachuting bears, doesnt that sound exciting!

_FORCE_96
_FORCE_96

Looks great. I hoipe it will be much better than Tiberium universe. Loving the wacky units and i don't see why there is a problem with the parachuting bears. Can't wait to get it.

VXCOM
VXCOM

C&C series are my favorate xD.......hemm...im worried bcoz the units looks more like a "KIDS TOY"....and not like the old* C&C...yea its new...but too weird*funny looking (i dint mean bear/dolphin....its the g'unit+tanks=no hard shapes*)......anyway cant wait to grab it...."HELL MARCH"

Feibie
Feibie

comes out autumn omfg awesome

Kleptos21
Kleptos21

Why are so many people shocked by the whole parachuting bears? Doesn't anyone remember RA 2 and the allied controlled dolphins? So what's the huge 'omg this is gonna be stupid with the bears' thing we got goin on here? If you actually read the article, or have played the games in the past, you will realize it is supposed to be a bit wacky and different. I for one can't wait for it to come out!!!

sagi2711
sagi2711

Should be worth buying... if I have the cash to get it...

medwayman
medwayman

Had to force myself to keep reading after "parachuting bears".

skywarp001
skywarp001

Graphics should be sick. c &c 3 was done well. Lets hope this is an improvement with more units and naval war!

xenflax
xenflax

Damn!! Pretty Cool!! The Best Strategy Games Since Command & Conquer Tiberium Suns.. When Will The Demo can Download..

zertos
zertos

parachutting bears? i think there going abit over board here but lets see how it fans out

AceRampage
AceRampage

parachuting bears? I can imagine one of the cut scenes being that of this animal control device... OMG? Innovation is good... but realistic ones? Guess we'll have to see when the games released...

Mega-Tom
Mega-Tom

Wow! Red Alert 3 looks amazing. I cant wait for the Beta when it comes out. Should be one amazing game. Transforming Tanks ftw!

Massive--Attack
Massive--Attack

I really wish they would use a new engine. I've never liked the engine EA has used recently. It's to artificial and I don't feel a connection to the landscape. A good rts game combines all it's elements to create a synergy that the player can become a part of.

X_ICE-MONKEY_X
X_ICE-MONKEY_X

Command and Conquer is THE BEST strategy series, pretty much the first really... (for all those people that prefer dune...) but lately EA has done some tweaking, now don't get me wrong.. the tweaking has been good, it just hasn't represented C&C the way I think it should've. I agree with the idea that a remake of any of the C&C games (except generals) would be fun, but why not use the engine from RA3 to bring back ALL of them (that is C&C, C&C2 Tiberian Sun, Red Alert, Red Alert 2, and all expansions) in a similar package to the Fisrt Decade edition, granted this might hike the price up, but I'm sure like me C&C fans would be willing to pay up. Command and Conquer is a franchise that EA has messed up and improved on, in different areas. As for new games in this series, they need to go outside the box. Parachuting bears are outside the box, but I'm talking about gameplay, perhaps a multiplayer version of the Conquest Mode in C&C3 KW? Or something else like destructible environments.. or even borrowing something from another game like Company Of Heroes and applying a cover system (kind of like the terrain idea in RA3) and a morale or supression system used by some other games. As for RA 3, anyone who does not play it and calls themselves an RTS fan may aswell catch a plane and call themselves a pilot.

generaljw
generaljw

And Pyrodaimon, what you said about EA supporting Bush with C&C Generals. I wouldn't really go that far as Bush is just a stupid man. What I'd say is, EA exploited the global state of affairs . They realized that the 3 determining forces on this planet were of course the US, then China and I repeat China not Russia. Russia has since demilitarized itself compared to China, China has been on a boost with Communism and is anxious to show the Western idiot governments that they can't walk over everyone. And finally with GLA, they meant to represent the whole middle east and their means of guerilla warfare which in all fairness should be highlighted. America and Britain, two of the most technological equipped armies in the world still have countless problems dealing with the armies in Aphganistan, Iraq and other places in the Arab World. So the struggle for power that you see in C&C Generals is true to life and so plays like a very addictive game. I don't like how GLA are depicted as essentially only terrorists either but you gotta admit that in the sense of proving a good game and making sales, it was a smart move on their part. SAD BUT TRUE. The other sad fact is that most people who play Generals Zero hour haven't once noticed how much the factions and scenarios in the game resemble the real life global state of affairs lol.

generaljw
generaljw

First thing's first, It's going to be impossible for this game to be crap and you all know this. It might not please a lot of people; some of them being loyal C&C FANS, some of them not but it will definitely not be below par. EA I'm not so sure about though, whilst they did a great job with C&C Generals Zero Hour (whose multi player experience is only rivaled by that of red alert 2), I can't help but think Tiberium 3 and Kane's Wrath would have had a slight better edge if it had been under the supervision of Westwood studious. Don't get me wrong, the games are great and did a good job on expanding the Tiberium universe but I think Westwood would have continued the Tib universe even better which I thought fell short compared the graphics and game play. OR you could say I'm wrong and that it's stupid to predict what Westwood would have done, maybe they might have made RA2 and left it there, who knows..... but still. As for RA3, I think it looks brilliant but I'm expecting it to look even better than it did in the trailer, at this stage in C&C, i wanna see their games make sure of all the software and graphical enhancements out there. I'm happy that they will be improving naval war within the game as that was a really good feature for RA2 and is needed when you think of how action packed SupCom 2's naval battles are. If there was one thing Tiberium Wars and Generals missed out on, it was Naval War fare. The only thing that I'd suggest may be a problem with this game, would be EA's focus on humor. Ra2 as far as I remmeber never had any funny moments. YES, it was not entirely serious all the way through and characters like Einstein and Romanov appeared to be comical at times maybe but that's about it. Th rest of the cast, like Tanya, Dugan, Carter, Yuri and EVA were pretty serious throughout and I think that was best. I have a funny feeling EA are a bunch of smiley face people and that that might be reflected in this game. Whilst the idea of Bears who are heavily armored and good at getting air might resemble the formidable foes in Halo known as brutes, I don't think its going to work here. In a game like Halo, If BRUTES were shot over perimeter walls, it would be really good and bloody bad news for the UNSC and I really could picture it happening but just without the parachute etc. But with the way EA is emphasizing humor such things may ruin the 'serious depth' to the game, if there is one that is. And from the sounds of things, the soviet side will have a lot of units mimicking animals which I don't think is a good idea regardless of them being mechs. I know that in RA2 the allies used Dolphins and the soviets used mind control to control Giant squids but that was unique and had a realistic feel to it. I assume these bears might be under mind control as well but I just hope they don't milk it too far or they will unnecessarily mess up what should be GREAT BLOODY THIRD INSTALLMENT. From what I've seen in the trailer, it will be really good to see an OLD Classic revived by a new and improved graphics engine but let's that the traditional RA2 game play isn't lost. I'm loving the idea of tactical advantage due to terrain and aspects like this influence the whole game from what I can see. In the trailer, the Kirovs that were in the Sky looked as if they were actually flying at a certain altitude instead of just occupying the sky. Things like this will help to draw the gap between C&C and Supreme Commander who have totally surpassed C&C in terms of scale and strategy. And the introduction of the Japanese side was needed also in order for RA3 to contend with other games be it C&C or not. having more factions gives players variation and longevity which is need for online play. Speaking of variation, I wonder if there will be different sides within each group. There should be because the Allies and the Soviets represent a wider number of countries so i would expect to see those ideas kept. The French Grand Cannons and Korean Black Eagles in RA2 made it above and beyond all else. Hopefully RA3 will reestablish C&C as one of the top best strategy games and hopefully pave the way for better titles after. THOSE WHO PLAYED KANE'S WRATH ARE ALL AWARE OF THE ENDING AND SO I'D IMAGINE A TIBERIUM 4 WOULD HAVE TO COME OUT IN A YEAR OR 2. IF IT DOES THOUGH IT WILL NEED TO BE IMPROVED 2 FOLD, BOTH IN SCALE AND LONGEVITY. If the next title isn't Tiberium wars then one would hope EA go in an entirely new direction and start something unique and great. C&C GENERALS didn't quite fit the bill but Zero Hour smashed it completely and is still being played ONLINE BY EVERYONE TO THIS DAY, regardless of Tiberium Wars 3 and Kane's Wrath.

GamespotCruiser
GamespotCruiser

They should start making RA games before C&C (Tiberium) games so the C&C games stop looking like **** compared to the newer RA titles that come directly after them. RA3 looks way better than C&C3. Shame that even though it looks nice I question their ability to add anything new. Naval looks to be great but I don't really see much depth in what the units are actually doing gameplay wise that we haven't already seen done good enough in RA2. Yuri's Revenge had a 3rd faction in the RA universe. C'mon EA guy, why haven't they fired you for not knowing that?

suprosa
suprosa

If by "a classic is back", you mean "a classic is back, but not before EA took a dump on it and then painted a clown face on top". This game is going to tank!

overlord_ch
overlord_ch

Finally a classic is back, It looks really nice... cant wait

Elrax
Elrax

So many negative comments.. Its a game, quit being such a critic, sheesh. Anyway I think RA3 would be awesome. The graphics look like SC2 Graphics, but a lot lighter.. lol.. I can't wait to play it. BTW I played all the C&C Games. I liked them all except Generals.. Well it was fun, but got boring after a long time.. I'm quite curious how this is going to play out. With the Japanese, Soviets and Americans.. I can't wait. Oh! About the comment on Generals being a "EA Support Bush" Thing. Thats pure crap. None of them said they really support bush and branding them that way is pure childish and silly. Its funny that many critics can be like such children. Oh.. Can't we have those light fun RTS that still gives lots of competition. Instead of those 'Serious give me a head ache after long periods of play even after its finished' games? Its great to see an RTS going all fun and fantasy type. I really really can't wait for RA3! Yay!

IzumonoRyuu
IzumonoRyuu

even now im still playing RA 2, and its still on my best strategy game i ever play, hope this series will be a llot better

snakeboyet742
snakeboyet742

well i hate that every body has baiscly the same veiw on RA i mean come on !! play the damn game first url all just compining about a game cus of who made it , thats like saying that ea dont wont to make it as good as RA 1 they do ! and ur pobaly saying this on here cus every body else is ,grow up pll , play the game if u dont like it play anther RTS like i donnno warhammer or something , quit complaning !

Phaje
Phaje

somehow, parachuting circus bears does not strike me as "tongue-in-cheek humor". It sounds like EA needs to learn the meaning of a little word called subtlety. There's a huge difference between stuff like psychic soldiers, tesla tanks, and time travel on the one hand, and parachuting bears on the other. it's like they're trying too hard and just throwing random crap in there. It'll probably be a fun game, though and I will reserve my final verdict for when I actually get to play it.

scorching_cool
scorching_cool

I hope they return to the original Westwood storyline....the series went downhill after the first part...

Phantomstrider
Phantomstrider

Looks like this may be another classic. Here's hoping we don't get another Empire Earth 3. I'd hate to see this series ruin itself.

Kensei_Kitsune
Kensei_Kitsune

@Petri87 - You misunderstand me, I'm not saying that it is a new direction. What I am saying is I dislike the way the series has turned since Red Alert 2 and its subsequent games. I fail to see the -why- of this series' 'funny' turn. As for Westowood, I meant, as an independent publisher. I haven't really enjoyed the C&C series since -before- RA2... @ Bloodmist - I couldn't disagree more. I actually like quite a number of EA's games, and generally reserve judgement before playing. What I dislike is the direction this particular series is going. It is not 'without merit' when voicing that we dislike the extremely silly turn this series has taken.

Pyrodaimon
Pyrodaimon

@KillaKhalilKing: Do not confuse light-hearted humor with extravagant absurdity. That would be like comparing The Three Stooges with Meet the Spartans.

ALZex
ALZex

What a real CHOP............ GAMESPOT I'm really disappointed in you. "is a world in which the so-called Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States never ended" ERRRRRRRROORRRR The game never start with the end of the cold war. It started as though Germanny was taken out of WW2... The cold war has nothing to do with the story line!!! Wrong game CHOP!!!.... GAMESPOT your standards have dropped Do yourself a favour do a little research before posting an article.. .... And of course play the game!!!!!!!!!!!!

sc_ajk29
sc_ajk29

@BloodMist: I couldn't agree more.

BloodMist
BloodMist

"I'm noticing that all the comments that think against RA3 are being thumbed down. Typical. They don't want to admit that EA ruined C&C. I support having wicked science in RA, not stupid science." Actually they're being thumbed down because the comments have no actual merit, ya see.RA1 wasn't exactly the most down to earth game, y'know.Einstein going back in time to erase Hitler from history isn't exactly the most realistic story there's ever been.Nor does it need to be, it's all purely fantastical.You wanna complain about a game being fantastical, you need to pull the stick outta your ass, basically.Especially when talking about such a series as the C&C series.And also stop having a double standard because you have a grudge against EA. ;)

suprosa
suprosa

lol Kolonel where have u been for all of PC gaming history? O.o

philaes
philaes

In answer to your question, Kolonel_Karnage, they started using hospital codes as early as 1996 with Red Alert 1.

Kolonel_Karnage
Kolonel_Karnage

Since when did they start using hospital codes as game names? I'll rent before I buy it. It looks pretty average. : |

Gitegite
Gitegite

I've been waiting for long time for some news to come out ^_^

KillaKhalilKing
KillaKhalilKing

omg all of u go off about parachuting armoured bears.........too be honest that is a little crazy but who gives a **** bears are strong warrioirs and are armoured? pretty gd attacking unit right there and red alert isint a serious game like others, but puting humour into it just like they said in interview u guys gotta take a pill man

sridanu
sridanu

Finally. Full scale NAVAL war fare

yossimitsu
yossimitsu

People will say anything just because EA is a big company that takes over the market. Yes, yes, not all EA games are good, but some of them are very good and Generals was a great game with excellent balance between units (something I can;t say for most of RTS out there including Taberian sun). So lets just wait and see, instead of whining who produces the game.

Anthraxboy501
Anthraxboy501

I belive if they are gonna do sumfin on the cold war they shud do it during the war not after, i mean a parachuting bear and a tank that shoots out electricity is just stupid... the first c&c games were good enough so y not just make these other c&c games a completely diff series?

jknight5422
jknight5422

Sounds interesting, but I still need to play all the way through the C&C Tiberium Wars. The RTS has been a bit difficult on the 360...but I'll give it a shot.

Pyrodaimon
Pyrodaimon

Yeah, and the saddest part is that EA's influence on C&C goes as far as Tiberian Sun. So, if you do the math, the only truly good, pure C&C games were just the first two: TD and RA. I never actually had anything against RA2. perhaps because it had some Westwood in it. I however hated Generals (EA's way of saying they support Bush and his ridiculous war) and TW (such a twisted version of the tib series, I entangle myself in its crappy plot)

simardbrad
simardbrad

It's all EA being retards... play C&C:RA 1... the good one. Then look at 2, how it's crappier and now look at this. They ruined my favourite game a while back and they've decided to kick it while it's down. I don't care what anyone says, but as soon as EA took over Westwood, the C&C series has been in a downhill slump!

Pyrodaimon
Pyrodaimon

Bears in Parachutes? That's like putting snakes in a plane. I'm noticing that all the comments that think against RA3 are being thumbed down. Typical. They don't want to admit that EA ruined C&C. I support having wicked science in RA, not stupid science. I mean, this doesn't even look cartoonish. It looks childish.

spartancupcake
spartancupcake

Rofl criticizing the freaking game already based on parachuting bears......sad.

leafs_fan1
leafs_fan1

Didn't RA2 have over-the-top animals as well? ...oh yeah: SQUIDS and DOLPHINS! it's part of the series, as integral as mind control and tesla. If you want generic go play something else.

Pac_man_640
Pac_man_640

im gunna get this game just for the parachuting bears... these guys must do some serious drugs to come up with this stuff i mean parachuting bears, thats worse than a super weapon hell yea!

CaptainFallout
CaptainFallout

Agree with Dillman, They drastically changed C&C universe. Even though there where technological oddies (i.e. Telsa, chrono) I interpreted it to show the technological difference that split our universe with C&C. Now the game has become LOONY-TOONY. Plus it looks like 90% of Soviet army has tesla now, reminds me of NOD and lasers, seriously!..... variety means specialization.

Dillman1021
Dillman1021

" Red Alert 3 aims to offer over-the-top gameplay with tongue-in-cheek humor." That really makes me NOT want to play this game. Nothing in this franchise will ever beat the original C&C or C&C: Red Alert, because every game they've made since then has been way over the top and lacking in seriousness.