The single-player storyline follows the Allied ending of Red Alert 1. The Soviet takeover of Europe was stopped and Joseph Stalin was killed. The UN decides that the best way to keep Soviet Russia in power but in tact is to appoint Alexander Romanov as the new Premier. Though he appeals to the Allied demands as they predicted, he secretly builds up a sizable Soviet military. Later on he has enough forces to launch a huge surprise attack at the US by air, land, and sea. As commander of the Allied or Soviet forces, it is your duty to defeat the Soviet invasion or destroy the US and claim worldwide domination.
The storyline for single-player is very engaging, with live-action cinematics between each missions. Red Alert continues the tradition of getting well-known actors by casting Ray Wise as US President Dugan and the hot Kari Wuhrer as Allied commando Tanya.
The major improvement Westwood made in RA2 is balance between the two sides. In RA1, you'd find almost everyone in multiplayer to play Soviet, because they were easily the stronger side. While Soviet still has the superior tanks in RA2, the Allies have a variety of new units that can ward off an early game Soviet tank rush. One of them is the Allied G.I., which is their standard rifle infantry whom can deploy their positions and have a stationary machine gun. Their attack dps and survivability go up in the deployed position. This makes the Allied GI very deadly in masses and strong defensive units.
Another possibility for Allied to ward off the early game attack is their new defensive towers, the Allied Prism Tower. While the Prism Tower is barely stronger than the Soviet Tesla Coil, when numerous towers are in range of one another, they get stronger and attack faster. Defensive structures are much more balanced in RA2, whereas RA1 the Soviets had the superior defense.
Once the Allied side defends against the early game attack, they can tech up and build the more advanced ground units. Mirage Tanks can camouflage as the environment, distracting the enemy and forcing the opponent to focus fire in order to attack them. They do heavy damage to armored vehicles, destroying tanks quickly. Prism tanks are also lightly armored but fire a long range beam that can destroy infantry and structures quickly.
While RA2 balances out the ground combat, it also offers many alternative ways to attack. RA2 multiplayer maps have more water than RA1 maps, encouraging players to engage in naval attacks. RA2 includes many new naval units such as Dolphins, mind controlled Giant Squids, Dreadnaught missile ships, Aircraft Carriers, etc etc.
RA2 also introduces the Engineer Rush, which usually consists of a player putting engineers in the Allied or Soviet APC and rushing the base, capturing the key structures and selling them. While Tiberian Sun's gameplay was too slow for it to be effective, the RA2 Engineer Rush can be ready to go within the first few minutes of the game.
Theres also the addition of superweapons. The Allies can teleport a group of units to anywhere on the map with the Chronosphere or destroy an area with the Weather Storm. The Soviets can make a group of units invulnerable for a duration with the Iron Curtain or blast an area and leave it radioactive with the Nuclear Missile.
While RA2 introduces many new ways to engage in combat, most multiplayer games end up still being a mass tank battle. Hard to criticize it though. Its fast, easy, and effective. And did I forget its just bloody fun? Occasionally you do run into a match that requires variety of attack, which is why RA2 is a terrific sequel and another Westwood RTS masterpiece.