A game for a lifetime
Command & Conquer Red Alert 2 is the sequel to the popular 1996 spin-off of Westwood's definitive real-time strategy game. The latest game in the successful series isn't a dramatic technological improvement over any of its predecessors, and its hammy alternate-World War II setting borders on being tasteless. However, Red Alert 2 is a very polished game that combines tried-and-true play mechanics with enough new features, improvements, and enhancements to make it both an excellent sequel and a great real-time strategy game in its own right.
Red Alert 2 features a campaign for both the Allies and the Soviets, in addition to a short optional tutorial. The campaigns span a dozen missions each, and they won't take too long to finish; but they offer a lot of variety, and they're generally of very high quality. The densely populated urban settings of many of the battles are far more interesting than the flat plains and desert settings typical to most real-time strategy games - you can actually garrison your troops in various buildings and lay claim to neutral structures such as hospitals and airports. Full-screen, full-motion video sequences show the continuing story in between each mission. These sequences are self-consciously silly; they're so tongue-in-cheek that you might just as soon dislike them if you're used to taking games more seriously. Nevertheless, the video sequences are well made and generally amusing, and you might recognize some of the actors and appreciate some of the performances, like the creepy Udo Kier in the role of the Soviet psychic, Yuri.
Regardless of whether or not you enjoy this style, you're likely to find that Red Alert 2 is actually a very good game, from its interface to its play mechanics to its multiplayer mode. It's not the most visually impressive real-time strategy game available, but it's among the most enjoyable to date. Red Alert 2 offers lots of challenges and variety for real-time strategy players of all skill levels, and it'll be particularly fun for fans of previous Command & Conquer games.Read full review