Red Alert 3 Initial Impressions; I hate rushers

(Note that this post originally appeard at digitalschlotzky.blogspot.com on 12/6/08, but was moved when the blog relocated to this address.)
I think Command and Conquer may have been the first “real” PC game I ever played. I remember tooling around in Sam’s Club one day waiting on my mom to get done shopping (this had to be junior high or earlier) and finding this game set up on the PCs there. I was fascinated with the way you could move the units around, causing the fog of war to dissipate as they uncovered more and more of the battlefield. I think I bought it shortly thereafter.

Fast forward 13 years. After numerous iterations on what is essentially the same formula throughout the Tiberium, Red Alert, and Generals games, Red Alert 3 is the latest in the series to be released. Some would say my use of the words “essentially the same formula” in the last sentence would be construed as a negative. To the contrary, that is exactly what I want. I have loved every single one of the games in the series (except for maybe Generals). For the uninitiated, Red Alert 3 is a real-time strategy game in which you are charged with building a miliary base, collecting resources, and wiping out your opponent.

Although slightly slower paced than Red Alert 2 and C&C3, RA3 is definitely faster-playing than a lot of the RTS games out there. There’s only one possible resource (ore), and it comes from set points that are clearly visible to all players. Most online matches last between 15 and 30 minutes. These battles can range from the truly epic to the extremely frustrating and mundane (see rushing diatribe below).

I haven’t gotten through all the campaign yet. RA3 has its trademark full motion video scenes between missions, which are great. New this year is the implementation of co-op into the mission structure. Every mission in the campaign can either be played with another live person or the AI. I tried the first few Soviet missions with a friend of mine, and it works fantastically well and is great fun.

I will probably get into specifics in later posts, but let me bitch about one thing before I sign off for the night. Rushing. Rushing is the process by which an RTS player acquires just enough resources to build a ton of one type of unit, with the sole purpose of sending that mass of clones to take out your base before you can get your economy up and running. To me, this type of play requires absolutely no skill, unless you count looking on forums to find optimal build order, then typing that build order into your queues a skill. However, few things are more satisfying than fending off a rusher and defeating them.

I’m not saying the game is imbalanced – there are ways to defend all rushes, I just don’t think I should have to. It’s this way in every RTS game I’ve played, unfortunately. Is it enough to get me to stop playing Red Alert 3? Not hardly. I do automatch a lot, and I would say out of the twenty or so online games I’ve played, maybe 7 have tried to rush me, probably 5 of which succeeded. So it’s not pervasive, but it definitely enough to be highly annoying.

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