Command & Conquer Yuri's Revenge Preview

Red Alert 2 is getting an expansion pack, and we've got some early details.

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The rumors are true: Red Alert 2, Westwood's successful follow-up to its 1996 classic, is getting an official expansion pack that will be released later this year. Strangely enough, however, the add-on won't have the words "Red Alert 2" anywhere on the box, as it's simply called Command & Conquer Yuri's Revenge. As you can undoubtedly deduce from its title, the expansion pack will focus on the return of one of Red Alert 2's most memorable characters, the Soviet psychic Yuri. On the eve of Yuri's Revenge official announcement by Westwood and EA Games, we sat down with producer Mark Skaggs to find out as much information about the game as possible. For now, Westwood is keeping fairly quiet about Yuri's Revenge, opting instead to really showcase the game at E3 next month. Regardless, Skaggs was willing to part with a handful of details to whet the appetites of Command & Conquer fans worldwide.

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"We've been working on Yuri's Revenge since January [2001]," explains Skaggs. "There was a lot of stuff that we couldn't fit into Red Alert 2, and this is such a rich and fun universe to work with, so it made sense to revisit it with an add-on." The expansion takes place about two months after the events of Red Alert 2, and it plays off of the mysterious disappearance of Yuri at the end of the Allied campaign of the original game. The war between the Allies and the Soviets is now over, and everything seems to be OK. The Soviets have been subdued and the world is now freed from their psychic grasp. Suddenly, Yuri and an army of psychic soldiers reappear, and they start placing vast regions of the globe under his control. The Allies are caught by surprise, and the only city they manage to save is San Francisco. An emergency team composed of core Allied members like EVA and Tanya is hastily assembled in the city, and through the help of Einstein's now infamous time travel machine, the team is sent back in time to stop Yuri before he gains enough power to take over the world.

As part of this team, you, playing the role of "commander", are sent back in time to the events of Red Alert 2. Your first mission is to stop Yuri from firing off his psychic dominator in San Francisco. Skaggs wouldn't reveal much of the plot beyond that, but he did note that the Soviets will be going up against Yuri as well, who is now considered a rogue agent. The single-player campaign will be split up into seven missions for the Allied side, and seven for the Soviets. Both campaigns follow the same timeline, and they both involve ensuring that Yuri's power is kept in check. Unfortunately, you won't be able to play as Yuri's faction outside the game's multiplayer component, which includes 10 cooperative campaign maps. This new faction certainly seems impressive-it will have around 30 new units in all: 11 infantry and vehicles, and between 15 and 19 structures. According to Skaggs, the "Yuris" are a mobile faction whose strength lies in stealing your own units and exploiting them against you. However, they lack brute strength and generally won't be able to survive in a war of attrition. Let's take a closer look at some of their units.

Skaggs gave us a small sampling of things to come by detailing two of Yuri's infantry, two of the vehicles, and one of the structures that you'll find in the game. Here they are:

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Virus: Virus is a deadly female sniper whose long-range rifle can target enemies from a very far range. She fires a poison-tipped dart that causes its victims to swell up grotesquely. The resulting explosion releases a toxic cloud of green gas that affects all nearby infantry.

Brute: Genetically enhanced, the brute is impervious to many types of attacks, including dogs, terror drones, and psychic forces. He's even immune from getting crushed by tanks or other land-based vehicles. He attacks by walking up to enemy vehicles and flipping them over. Unlike other units, however, he cannot "deploy" into a secondary mode.

Slave miner: Yuri's faction has a different resource collection mechanism. This unit combines the traditional harvester and refinery into one mobile vehicle. The slave miner ventures out onto an ore field and then deploys five human slaves, each of whom is equipped with a shovel for digging the resource, and bringing it back to the miner. Once enough ore has been collected, the miner will refine the resource into money right there on the spot, and the collection process starts over again. Additionally, the individual slaves can use their shovels to defend themselves, and if they're killed, the miner will automatically generate replacement slaves as necessary.

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Boomer: The boomer is a submarine that's capable of fighting both under and above the water. It's equipped with a pair of torpedo launchers for underwater encounters, and it can also fire sea-to-land ballistic missiles at land-based enemy vehicles and structures. When it's not firing its weapons, the boomer can move around undetected.

Yuri's recruitment center: This is the barracks structure for the Yuri faction. From here, you'll be able to create most of your infantry, including the brute. The recruitment center is fashioned after Yuri's image.

While Skaggs couldn't reveal any additional details about the units, he did tell us that his team is hard at work creating various worlds where you'll do battle against Yuri's army. San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Sydney, Cairo, Antarctica, and the moon are all some of the places where you'll butt heads with Yuri. You'll even be able to learn more of Yuri's mysterious past when you confront him in his homeland of Transylvania towards the end of the game.

Yuri's Revenge is currently in development at Westwood's Irvine, California studio, and it's being worked on by 10 of Red Alert 2's original team members. The rest of the staff is busy working on a top secret game...more on that at a later date. "We'll be developing the game until June, at which point we'll start the balancing and debugging process," explains Skaggs. "I'm confident that Yuri's Revenge will ship this fall." In fact, filming of the live action sequences was recently completed at Westwood's Las Vegas headquarters, and according to Skaggs, all of the actors from Red Alert 2 will reprise their respective roles in the expansion. We'll have more on this exciting add-on at E3, where Westwood is expected to reveal more information about the game. Stay tuned.

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