The best of the franchise
Command & Conquer: Red Alert made some huge steps forward considering it only came about a year after the original Command & Conquer for DOS. The biggest thrill are now absolutely fantastic pre-rendered cutscenes that feel like watching a movie, u-boats, fighter jets, tanks, turrets, it's all there, and there's plenty of them to watch. Acting is now much more fun as there are more than just a single person looking right at you and giving you some mission briefing. It's absolutely fantastic how cheesy yet perfect the acting is, it is bad, it is funny, but the fact is it wouldn't be so great if it was any better. It is interesting to see how each of them is trying to use you to achieve their own goals, while plotting to overthrow each other (Soviet campaign movies are just plain priceless, they all kill each other in those FMVs sooner or later, until you end up with Kane, the only bad guy worth following ;)
The story is set in the past as Einstein found a way to travel through time and removed Hitler out of the way. With World War II never happening, Stalin somehow came to an idea to seize control over the globe. The game fits nicely so you can later claim that original C&C is its actual sequel. They totally ruined everything with appearance of RA2 afterwards which split the franchise into Red Alert and Command & Conquer and put a solid barrier between their timelines with very little connection whatsoever.
Missions are now stretching only across the Europe, and you are given a choice to play as Allied or Soviet commander, which will eventually lead you to rather satisfying though peculiar endings. Can't figure out why some people didn't like them, they're quite okay if I do say so myself. Again, Frank did masterful work with the music as it fitted the red storm idea up to the teeth, and is nothing short of perfection. Unlike many other games of a sort, C&C was well greeted for varying arsenal on both sides, not just giving you same unit with different looks. Red Alert makes the battle strategies even more diverse as the balance of power is more than cool. Playing as soviet commander you'll notice you absolutely have supremacy concerning tank vehicles which can crush even the top allied ones although less in numbers. On the other hand, allied tanks compensate their weakness with the speed. On the water, however, allies take all the pride as their navy is quite ferocious and their cruiser ships can devastate bases from screens afar. Opposing compensation lies with the subs, stealth and only able to destroy naval targets and shipyards. The air supremacy is on the side of Soviet forces, and now you can have airfields to host as many fighters as you can build, not just call the backup in a form of reinforcements from out of the screen.
Many new structures serve the purpose but are not always the same, although they could've made different looking factories, though. Turrets are different as allies tried to make those that can withstand soviet tanks, while soviet forces focused more on repelling light tanks and infantry crowds. And of course, there are secret technologies aiding both sides which usually become available on later levels, or right from the start if you feel like playing a skirmish or multiplayer game. Also, the biggest thrill is that Windows version has higher resolution thus showing more of the battlefield, fancy icons, and still running just swell, in other word, great.
The whole idea of putting three difficulty levels in the game is quite ridicule if they only serve to lower your shield and firepower and increase that of the enemy. Real-time strategy is all about the strategy and the only element that should define difficulty should be computer's AI and how well is responses to your threat and tactics, cheating just isn't fun.
Sometimes computer can block itself with its own units. That is both good an bad, but it's a bug so it's bad. The good thing game-wise is that you can rest from the constant attacks, but once you determine to go un-block computer's units, you better come in huge numbers because the longer it stays blocked, the more units it will produce that will just wait in the base you'll have to conquer.
The Bottom Line
A fine RTS, no, probably the best RTS ever made, what later they ruined with Red Alert 2 is up to the association with now known EA Pacific, and bad usage of cinematics and wasted talent of some great actors included. Original Red Alert has none of that, acting is both great and fun, missions are interesting and progressive, soundtrack is catchy, and cinematics are breathtaking. In spite of being the predecessor of cheesy looking RA2, the original Red Alert still saved some sort of seriousness in its own self so it doesn't look like a parody but a well blend mixture of fun, entertainment, and presentation.