Command & Conquer Red Alert: Retaliation Review

The game could have been better adapted for the console set, perhaps even by adding in a few basic search-and-destroy missions in the start.

There is at least something to the belief that console owners would rather blow things up than deal with advanced strategy, and never has that been more apparent than in Westwood's Command & Conquer Red Alert: Retaliation for the PlayStation. It quickly becomes evident after dealing with even the first handful of missions--which require the exact use of key personnel at precisely the right times or that goals be met before the rapidly ticking clock runs out--that the game could've been better adapted for the console set, perhaps even by adding in a few basic search-and-destroy missions in the start. Even the stages that are more straightforwardly destructive require maintaining a war on two fronts or provide limited resources to build your forces up with.

The game itself is an adaptation of two add-on packs created for the PC game Command & Conquer: Red Alert, the prequel to the original Command & Conquer game. As before, you take on the role of one of two opposing armies, commanding your troops and vehicles to take out enemy forces, while defending your base and harvesting materials to keep the old war machine running. Some missions demand more precise goals than simply overrunning your opponent, such as sneaking spies into his camps to learn shipping routes or even commanding a small platoon of soldiers, sans base and vehicles, within an enemy research facility.

But if you don't already know all about Command & Conquer, C&CRA:R is a horrible game to start with. On the PC side, it's understood that if you buy an add-on pack, you've already played earlier missions, because owning the basic game is a prerequisite to playing them. But that's not the case here, and those who hope to pick it up as their first taste of C&C will walk away entirely frustrated. It's a shame that Westwood couldn't follow the lead of perhaps one of the companies out there adapting PC games to better fit the console market (3DO with Uprising X, Crave with Battlezone, and so on) by either adding some simpler and more explosive extra missions or altering the preexisting ones to better suit the console market. Having complex mission after complex mission without a few easy victories sprinkled in between can be an arduous experience.

The same criticisms that were leveled at Command & Conquer: Red Alert also apply here: The graphics aren't nearly as good on the PlayStation version as the PC, and playing the game with a PlayStation controller instead of a mouse takes a lot away from the ease of play (the PlayStation mouse is incredibly rare). But the largest complaint--not being able to save at any point as in the PC version--is further compounded because of the game's extreme level of difficulty, leading to matches where you'll end up having wasted hours of fighting and planning because you made a crucial error near the end.

If you're a fan of the console ports of this series and are looking for another round of challenging missions (the likes of which might have taken you several days each to accomplish in the earlier versions), then you're definitely on target with this game. But newcomers and the more action-oriented of you out there beware: This one's not for you. Certainly the original PC add-on pack designers should be applauded for not just creating more of the same, but having such a high difficulty level without being able to provide a better save system seems to point out that this may have been an inappropriate port for the system. It's of course a great PC strategy game, but one that's either not very well suited or not very well adapted for console audiences. Or both.

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    Command & Conquer: Red Alert - Retaliation More Info

  • First Released Aug 28, 1998
    • PlayStation
    The game could have been better adapted for the console set, perhaps even by adding in a few basic search-and-destroy missions in the start.
    Average Rating425 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Westwood Studios
    Published by:
    Westwood Studios, Electronic Arts, Virgin Interactive
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Animated Violence, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco