A missed opportunity
Red Alert returns with a new time-line and a new enemy: The mighty Empire of the Rising Sun joins the Soviets and Allies in their bid for world domination.
Red Alert 3 integrates the common rock-paper-scissors approach to units and building, where some units are effective against one unit type, but vulnerable to another (tanks are good against armor, but are vulnerable to anti-tank infantry, etc.). This forces the player to utilize units with different capabilities in every assault.
Whats more,now all units have special abilities, which include blocking the fire of enemies, powerful blasts, jumps and even transformations. In case of Japanese transformers this allows units to change their type (for example, from anti-air submarine to anti-troop air craft) and radically alter the course of the battle. Other abilities, while more straightforward, can wreck havoc on the battlefield, and a correct combination of abilities and normal fire can be enough to win the fight.
To make the game even more interesting, you can now choose where to build most of your structures - on land (where they will be targeted by land units and heavy armor) or on sea (where they will be assaulted by long range Carriers and Dreadnoughts, as well as other boats). Many units have also gained the ability to traverse water and can now attack equally well on land and on sea.
The last good addition to the game are the Tactical Strike tree which allows you to research unique strikes that (once researched) could be used freely once in a while. All strikes are unique to each fraction and vary from simple bombardment to freezing the units of your foes to scanning the map and much more.
It goes without saying that the graphics are good and the movies are high quality (at least graphics-wise), but hardly outstanding.
There is much to like in Red Alert 3, and I tried to like it - I really tried, but the game fails to live up to expectations.
My first issue was with the moronic cut-scenes and the childish acting. While I understand that Red Alert is supposed to be a much less serious serious series than C&C with over-the-top humor, its jokes get old fast. The entire game story looks like a bad teen comedy - all characters have horrible accents, and like every b-movie Red Alert tries to make up for it with half-naked women. Naturally, they fail.
But this is a war game and it would be silly to expect it to be anything more (unless we're talking about Starcaft). However, even as a war game it fails to deliver:
By far the biggest problem is the huge no-entry zone around your larger ships and vehicles. You see, for some reason Westwood & EA decided to prevent your units from clustering together, thus a large force of big ships would spread across a huge field, where most of them are ineffective. To make matters worse, if you combine several unit types (which you must do), your smaller support units lose the protection of their bigger brothers (since the smaller the unit, the better it will cluster) leaving them vulnerable to attack.
This can be extremely annoying if you collect a large force and see it all destroyed just because the large anti-armor ships were pushed out of the battlefield by their comrades. This also forces you to play in the highest resolution and minimum zoom or you won't even see your entire force on the screen and will be forced to scroll down, loosing sight of the actual battle in the front.
The other problem is that many special abilities are continues and need to be targeted on several units to provide the maximum effect. Unfortunately, those special abilities will often be target on a single unit, leaving the others free to destroy you. This forces you to micro manage each of your units that uses a continues special ability to retarget it on a different enemy. This is especially problematic for the Allies as they rely more heavily on their continues abilities which reduce, freeze or prevent the firing of enemy units they target.
The Bottom Line
Despite what I said the game isn't particularly bad, but it isn't good either. It has serious flaws both in its story and (which is much more important) in the actually game play.
While the game can still be enjoyable, you'd better spend your money on Starcraft 2.