Command & Conquer Yuri's Revenge Updated Preview

We travel to Westwood's Irvine offices and return with new info on this add-on.

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Ask any Command & Conquer fan, and he or she will tell you that one of the biggest disappointments at this year's E3 was that Westwood's upcoming expansion pack for Red Alert 2, Yuri's Revenge, was nowhere to be found on the show floor. Understandably, Westwood opted to save the resources that would have been spent on creating a playable demo of Yuri's Revenge to ensure that the game releases on schedule later this year. Determined for more information on this promising add-on, however, we recently made the trek down to Westwood's Southern California offices to visit with the Yuri's Revenge development team and get some actual hands-on time with the game.

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For those who haven't read our 2707579original preview of Yuri's Revenge, the game takes place immediately after the final moments of Red Alert 2. The victorious Allies have imprisoned the Soviet leader Romanov in the Tower of London, and his right-hand man, the psychic Yuri, is missing and presumed dead. During the opening credits of this expansion pack, however, Yuri reemerges with an army of mind-controlled warriors who set into place a plan to take over the world by using a network of massive psychic dominators. Almost too late, the Allied forces find out about Yuri's scheme and launch a daring assault on his psychic dominator in San Francisco. In a scene taken directly from The Rock, nearly a dozen Allied harriers zoom by the Golden Gate Bridge on their way to the psychic dominator on Alcatraz, where they're met by a nearly impenetrable wall of lead thrown up by a number of Yuri's new gattling tanks. These powerful armored units manage to destroy every last one of the Allied harriers. Luck, however, is on the Allies' side--the flaming hull of one harrier, destroyed only seconds earlier by a hail of antiaircraft fire, barely misses the psychic dominator but crashes directly into the island's power plant, knocking out power to the rest of Yuri's base and preventing the psychic dominator from activating.

The remainder of the psychic dominators that were scattered across the globe do activate, however, and the entire planet--save for the San Francisco area--falls under Yuri's control. At the beginning of the game, the Allies use San Francisco as the staging grounds to launch a counterattack against Yuri by employing Einstein's time-travel technology to go back in time and make sure the psychic madman meets the same fate that Romanov did at the end of Red Alert 2. The Soviet single-player campaign in Yuri's Revenge is similar to the Allied campaign in that they too want to destroy Yuri as punishment for his betrayal. However, the Soviets are also after the Allies' time-travel technology--that way, they can go back and alter the outcome of the original war from Red Alert 2. There will be seven new single-player missions for both the Allied and Soviet sides, and both campaigns will square off each side against Yuri's brand-new third faction of genetically mutated and mind-controlled soldiers. As an added bonus, you'll be able to play this new side in Yuri's Revenge's multiplayer component, which will include 10 new cooperative maps and a number of new skirmish levels.

Breaking the Rules

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Command & Conquer Yuri's Revenge promises to be more than just a standard add-on. "We want to avoid releasing a 'missions 'n' movies,'" explains Yuri's Revenge producer and Westwood Pacific vice president Mark Skaggs. "We didn't want [Yuri's Revenge] to be just another straightforward expansion pack, so we looked at the two factions that were in Red Alert 2, and we decided to break the rules of Command & Conquer a little bit." Skaggs is referring to the traditional characteristics of the two Red Alert factions: the Allies and the Soviets. The Allies have always relied on speed, finesse, and cutting-edge technology on the battlefield. So to break from that norm, Westwood has given the Allies an uncharacteristically heavy assault tank in Yuri's Revenge. This slow-moving behemoth will be unlike any other unit in the Allied arsenal, and naturally, it will pack a heavy punch--it'll also be totally immune to any of Yuris' psychic powers. For the Soviets, who have traditionally employed brute tactics and powerful but lumbering attacks, the break in the norm will be their fast raider unit, which will be light on armor but relatively nimble. In fact, the Soviets will look and play significantly differently in Yuri's Revenge than they did in Red Alert 2. That's because when Yuri defected from the Soviet side, he took with him a number of the psychically enhanced units, thus leaving a number of gaps in the Soviet faction--ones that needed to be filled with new vehicles, units, and structures to replace the old ones.

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One of the most distinctive new Soviet units is Boris, who is the equivalent of the GDI's commando. Boris replaces Yuri as the Soviet hero unit, and his specialty is to place a laser designator on enemy structures. Once his designator is "splashing" a structure, a group of Mig fighters will automatically take off and streak toward Boris' target and bomb it to oblivion. Boris must keep his designator on his target from the moment the Migs launch until they release their bombs, though--if he doesn't, the Migs will peel off. To defend himself, Boris also carries a heavy machine gun that can make quick work of light infantry. And since he is a hero unit, Boris can't really die. Instead, once his health is depleted, he will become unavailable to you for the rest of that round and will return during the next level. The Allies' Tanya has also received a slight upgrade, as she can now place her signature C4 explosives on vehicles as well as structures.

Yuri's Revenge will also feature some new gameplay enhancements for the Allied and Soviet sides. In the ever-continuing saga to combat tank rushes, the add-on will feature new structures designed to protect your units from attacking forces in the first 10 minutes of each match. Essentially, these structures are bunkers that you use to house tanks within. Each bunker can hold only one tank, but it gives that vehicle a bonus for armor, accuracy, and power, making them very effective against tank rushes. However, they're extremely susceptible to air attacks, artillery, and V3 rockets. The idea behind these drawbacks is that airborne units and V3 launchers are fairly high on the technology tree, meaning that it will take time for the enemy to build up a sizable force that can overcome the bunkers, which, in essence, will also give you enough time to fortify your defenses and build a counterattack force of your own.

The Yuri Faction in Detail

While Westwood is retooling the Allied and Soviet sides for Yuri's Revenge, it's the game's namesake--the Yuri faction--that will be the most compelling party in the add-on. Skaggs says that this side is physically weak and will use your own strengths against you. What the Yuris lack in physical power, however, they more than make up for in genetics, cloning, and psychic technology. We already 2707579detailed a handful of the new Yuri units and structures a while back, but after playing with the game for a couple of hours, we learned of some additional details. Here's a basic rundown of some of the units and structures that you can expect in Yuri's Revenge:

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Psychic tower: This structure will automatically mind-control up to three enemy units that venture within its range. Once the units are under its influence, they'll be yours to do with as you choose, including using them to attack their own allies. You can even put them to use in one of the other new Yuri structures that are detailed below.

Bio reactor: The Yuris' second new structure is the bio reactor, which is a tall building with three glass tubes where you can "store" mind-controlled enemies (or your own conscripts, if you choose). While in the tubes, the units will be drained of their energy, which will then be transferred to the base's overall power source.

Grinder: The third Yuri structure is a gruesome machine straight out of Quake II. As its name implies, the grinder "processes" units and infantry for money. You can use either your own units or captured enemy units. Vehicles will have a return value of $1 per dollar spent, but infantry will return only half of every dollar spent on their training.

Genetic mutator: This is one of the Yuri superweapons available in the expansion pack. When charged, it uses a satellite to fire down--onto any location on the map--a beam that can turn any enemy infantry within its blast radius into a Yuri brute. The mindless brutes will immediately proceed to smash up any infantry, vehicles, or structures they see. This weapon has the best results when it's fired at targets located in an enemy base.

Force shield: Another superweapon, the force shield is a single shot defensive measure that, for a few seconds, puts up a force field around the base. This shield will protect from all superweapon attacks while it's active, but once it powers down, it will completely drain the base of all its power, leaving it vulnerable to attack. When used precisely, however, the force shield can be a lifesaver.

Mastermind: This tank is basically a mobile version of the Yuri psychic dominator. It's slow, and it has the ability to control an unlimited amount of enemy infantry, with one slight drawback: It starts to overheat when it has more than five enemies under its influence, and if nothing is done about it, it'll quickly incur damage until it eventually explodes. The mastermind, while potentially a powerful tool that you can use to strip units away from enemy forces, will undoubtedly prove to be the toughest Yuri unit to--don't mind the pun--master.

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Magnetron: This tank doesn't have any traditional weapons per se, but it does possess the distinct advantage of being able to magnetically lift any enemy vehicle that ventures too close. With the magnetron, you can move enemy vehicles into the direct path of your attacking force.

Siege chopper: Although this is a fairly large helicopter, it can't carry any units or infantry, and thus, can't be used as a transport. Instead, the chopper can fly and land anywhere on the map, and then deploy into a formidable artillery cannon. When used in groups, siege choppers will be excellent for barraging enemy lines quickly and effectively.

Gattling tank: One of Yuri's most powerful new units is the gattling tank. This versatile tank has a pair of deadly gattling guns that can fire at ground- and air-based targets, and it can be used as an assault vehicle or as a defense structure. The tank gets its potency from the unique design of the gattling guns: the longer they remain firing, the faster they spin and the more damage they do. If faced with a number of targets, the gattling tank will eventually take less and less time to kill the same type of unit.

Floating disk: This '60s-style UFO is a slow-moving airborne vehicle that serves a number of purposes. Its primary weapon is a laser beam that drains the energy from an enemy's power plant, potentially causing that base to shut down. If flown over an enemy's refinery, it can use its laser beam to steal money from that structure's coffers as well.

This is just a small example of the final number of units and structures that will be available in Yuri's Revenge. According to Skaggs, the entire development team that worked on Red Alert 2 is working on this expansion pack, which means that it will certainly have more substance than similar add-ons have had in the past. There's little question that Yuri's Revenge won't serve fans of Red Alert 2 well--it's got depth, the promise of hours and hours of replay value, and, most importantly, the experience behind it. Final judgment will have to wait until the game ships later this year, however; but in the meantime, be sure to check back here for more information on Yuri's Revenge.

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