Written by  :  anton treuenfels (37)
Written on  :  Mar 16, 2002
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  3.17 Stars3.17 Stars3.17 Stars3.17 Stars3.17 Stars

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Addictive enough to complete and anticipate sequels

The Good

The sound - the tunes are nice, but so are the unit sound effects (particularly Tanya ("Ka-ching!!")).

The campaign - I was introduced to this game by way of "RA:Aftermath", which my brother and his friends liked to play in skirmish mode. One of those maps kept me going for several hours non-stop. But after enough of them, it became boring because they were basically all the same - once I figured out how to beat the computer, there was no challenge left (and the games became much shorter). When I acquired the original "RA" as part of the "Worldwide Warfare" pack, I decided to play the Allied campaign first. While there were only 14 missions, some were indoors, some had new units previously unavailable, and all in all there was enough variation and purpose to keep me going.

The cut scenes - the briefings (typically live actors) and opening/closing scenes (typically computer animation) for each mission are very well done. Much better graphics than the actual in-game stuff, actually (and which you never see at all in the skirmish games). There is also much more of it compared to other RTS games such as "Warcraft II", giving a better immersive feeling than that game.

The end game - the final Allied mission wasn't the pushover that I've encountered in other endgames. Just getting started was a challenge. And the AI was pretty aggressive about attacking my base (which I didn't really appreciate at the time!).

The Bad

The graphics - specifically the in-game (mission) graphics. Structures and landscapes are actually not bad, but most mobile units are clunky-looking. Human units in particular are small and hard to select out of a group.

The useless units - sandbags, walls, light tanks: what can they do that's worth spending money on? Chronosphere: the final mission introduces this expensive structure, but what is it good for? Sure, I can move a single unit far behind enemy lines, but not one powerful enough to do any real damage before it's destroyed (Tanya, who can blow up buildings, can't be moved this way).

The single resource - dull

The "kill everything" requirement - most outdoor missions are over long before this, basically when the AI can no longer fight back (it can no longer produce new units because you've destroyed all of some resource it needs (I like to destroy the construction yard myself, cutting off its technology tree at the root)). I use air power to reach that point, then "tank rush" just to get it over with. But it's boring (particularly if that last unit is a submerged Soviet submarine).

The air-power imbalance - it's probably not quite right to say I don't like this, because I exploited it often to win the game. Actually, I've used it to win "RA:Aftermath" skirmishes playing the Soviet side. It's probably best to say that the AI doesn't defend well against air power, mainly by not massing its available defenses well enough to beat an "air rush" attack, even though it is possible to do so for either side.

The Bottom Line

Well worth playing, but the single-player modes have a limited lifetime appeal due to increasing familiarity with the AI and its weaknesses. Perhaps the multiplayer modes are the long-term life of this game.