So a friend and I got deeper into the Red Alert 3 campaign mode last night. We did the final Soviet mission, which took the better part of an hour, and the first Allied mission.
The final Soviet mission was pretty well done. We had a reasonable challenge on medium difficulty, although we were never really in danger of being defeated. Eventually we amassed a huge force and rolled over the Empire without much resistance. All in all, a fun first third of the campaign. I’m going yo be surprised if I like either of the other two factions more that the Soviets, as they are probably the closest faction to the typical C&C game of old.
Two things: the cooperative mode is insanely well done, and this game has character. What this game may lack on original mission types and game mechanics (they’ve all been pretty standard thus far, with limited exceptions) it more than makes up for with the co-op and the story. The co-op is easy to get started and well-implemented, often requiring (rather than just allowing) teamwork to advance. Sometimes this is because the two commanders are limited to certain units (e.g. one gets navy, one gets air) and other times because the CPU forces are just too much to overcome without help. It definitely feels like you’re working together. A mic is definitely recommended (voice chat is built in).
The story is a big plus as well. It’s obviously over the top and campy, with the live action cutscenes the series is so well known for. Some hate it, but I absolutely adore it. The actors seem to be in on the joke, and ham up their lines to no end. And they’re more or less actual actors too! You’ve got Tim Curry, the bad guy from Toy Soldiers, one of the nihilists from the Big Lebowski, and enough out-of-place cleavage to satisfy even the most immature among us. Best line so far: U.S. president J.K. Simmons asking us to “send those commies back home to their mommies.” Good stuff.
I have very few complaints about this game. One thing I’m not a huge fan of though is the disjointed difficulty level curve associated with presenting three separate campaigns. What I mean is, we work our way through the Soviet campaign and finally unlock all the units available on the last mission. (For the record, I am in favor of this kind of progression, as it teaches you about each unit one mission at a time, which is a good primer for multiplayer.) However, when you go on to the Allied missions, you start back at first-mission difficulty, only able to build the most basic of units. It’s a small complaint, and honestly, I’m not sure there’s a better way to do it and keep a semi-coherent storyline, it’s just a bit jarring.
Nonetheless, so far this game has been well worth the $50. Loads of good times to be had with a buddy. I’ll update further here on how the Allied and Empire missions play out and also some multiplayer info once I progress a little further. Does it change anything in the RTS world? Not really, aside from the excellent co-op. But it’s more Red Alert that I wanted, and that’s what I got. No complaints.