|Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2|
Brett W. Sperry
|Series||Command & Conquer:|
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 is a real-time strategy video game by Westwood Studios, which was released for Microsoft Windows on October 25, 2000 as the follow-up to Command & Conquer: Red Alert. Red Alert 2 picks up at the conclusion of the Allied campaign of the first game. Its expansion is Command & Conquer: Yuri's Revenge.
Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2 contains two playable factions, the Soviets and the Allies, which both previously appeared in Command & Conquer: Red Alert. The single player campaign is structured in an alternate-ending mode as opposed to a progressive story mode. Like its predecessor, Red Alert 2 features a large amount of full motion video cutscenes between missions and during gameplay, with an ensemble cast including Ray Wise, Udo Kier, Kari Wuhrer, and Barry Corbin.
The main objective of the game is to defeat enemy commanders, played by AI or human opponents, by destroying their bases to the point of enemy capitulation. Players must also work to defend their own bases to maintain their ability to collect money and produce units, both of which are essential in achieving the main objective. Once all enemy commanders have been defeated, a winner is declared.
Every aspect of gameplay in the game is based on the collection of money. In the game, money can be collected by several means. The most common is using miner trucks to gather ore and/or gems and transport them to a refinery. A player can also gain a lasting income by capturing oil derricks (neutral buildings that are present in some maps). There also are two one-time sources of money for Allied and Soviet players, namely: collecting random crates which are present in the map and selling off buildings which are controlled by the player. Allied players have a third one-time source of money, which involves using a spy to steal an opposing player's money. The money is spent on constructing and repairing buildings and units. In both cases, players may start construction before having the full cost in one's reserves, as construction simply pauses if a player runs short of money.
The various nations are members of either the Soviet or the Allied factions, which are loosely based on the real life factions of the Cold War. One of the major praises of Red Alert 2 over the original Red Alert game was that playing as a specific country made a bigger difference. While every country has the basic buildings and units, each nation has a special unique unit, ability, or structure. This changed up the popular skirmish games, allowing for new strategies. In Red Alert 1, different countries only had minor differences in statistics like armor thickness and vehicle speed.
It is also the first C&C RTS not to include a "mission select" screen prior to levels that change the conditions of the next level.
Like previous Command & Conquer games, the two factions in Red Alert 2 have unique armies with their own strengths and weaknesses. To achieve victory, a player must play to their faction's strengths and exploit the other faction's weaknesses. The factions follow the same trend in the previous title.
Soviet vehicles tend to possess heavier firepower and/or being able to take more punishment compared to their Allied counterparts with examples such the Heavy Rhino Tank and its V3 Rocket Launchers. However, they are also more expensive to build and at times move more slowly, allowing Allied vehicles to out-maneuver and outnumber them. The basic Soviet infantry, on the other hand, the Conscript, though much inferior to the Allied G.I., are incredibly inexpensive and far faster to train making it easy to mass produce. The Soviet faction is also superior in the early game and in land wars because of their more powerful and advanced tanks, while the Allied faction is better in the late game with more advanced units, such as those used in naval warfare. In particular, the Soviets are better for early game rushes, which are very common in online games.
Red Alert 2 contains three campaigns. Boot Camp, Allied, and Soviet. Each campaign is distinct in its own way. Boot Camp is simply a tutorial campaign consisting of two missions in which the player is introduced to the fundamentals of the game with the use of Allied forces. If played, Boot Camp leads into Allied Campaign chronologically. Allied and Soviet campaigns are the two main campaigns of the game, each consisting of twelve missions in which the player faces off against one or more computer-controlled opponents. In some missions, the objective is simply to defeat all opposing forces in the area; other missions have more specific objectives, such as capturing or destroying a particular enemy structure or defending a particular structure of the player's own from enemy attacks. While fundamentally different in story and units, both Campaigns are structured similarly. Both begin with the player operating a limited base or otherwise a Mobile Construction Unit to start from scratch plus a platoon of certain units, but in a few missions construction is not required.
Skirmish mode is essentially the free-for-all multiplayer mode played against computer-controlled opponents. The player chooses a map against as many players the map supports. The player can also change settings such as the number of starting units, the monetary levels at the beginning, game speeds and the availability of superweapons. There are no special objectives, just eliminate all enemies units and structures.
Red Alert 2 includes two different multi-player modes. One, LAN allows the player to play alongside friends and others without the use of an internet connection. The other, Online Play allows the player to play across the internet and against players from across the globe. LAN play allows for only Skirmish Mode that is available in single-player. Online play allows for tournaments, private games, public games, ladder ranking games and also contains a chat system. In 2005, control of online play for Red Alert 2 and a number of older C&C games was passed over from EA to XWIS, a community-run server. Multiplayer is still active through CnCNet.
Like previous Command & Conquer real-time strategy games, Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 contains two separate campaigns with distinct story lines, one for each playable faction.
Red Alert 2 is set in the same alternative history universe as Red Alert in which Adolf Hitler was removed from history. With Hitler gone, the Soviet Union led by Joseph Stalin attempted to conquer Europe but was defeated by the Allied nations and their military destroyed. Fearing that a regime change would cause mass unrest in the Soviet Union, the victorious Allies installed Alexander Romanov, a distant relative of Tsar Nicholas II, as the puppet Soviet Premier. Romanov acquiesces to the Allies' demands at first, though he builds up the Soviet military for "defense purposes" - a cover for an intended invasion of the United States. The game's story line starts off in an unspecified year, with the United States Armed Forces caught completely off guard by the sudden massive Soviet invasion of the United States, with Soviet aircraft, naval vessels, amphibious forces, and paratroopers coming in on both the East Coast and West Coast and with the majority of Soviet ground forces coming in through Mexico, starting World War III. The U.S. attempts to retaliate with the use of nuclear missiles, but Yuri, leader of the Soviet Psychic Corps and Premier Romanov's top advisor, uses his mind control to manipulate the personnel charged with launching the warheads and leaves them to explode in their silos. Within hours, the U.S. is overrun with Soviet Army troops. The player either takes the role of an American Commander, tasked by General Ben Carville with defending the United States, or a Soviet Commander leading the invasion for Premier Romanov.
In the real world, Albert Einstein died in 1955 but construction of the Twin Towers was not completed until 1973. Red Alert 2 takes place in a timeline and year in which the Twin Towers have been completed but Einstein is still alive, making the time period in which it takes place difficult to determine.
The Allied Commander is sent to New York City with a special forces team led by Special Agent Tanya Adams to repel a Soviet invasion there and then to Colorado Springs to liberate the Air Force Academy and the air base there. As they return victorious, they discover that a Soviet mind control device known as the Psychic Beacon has been deployed in Washington, D.C., forcing the president and General Carville to surrender. The Commander frees them from control and the government goes into exile in Canada.
When the Soviets put another psychic device in Chicago, the Psychic Amplifier, which could control the whole country, the Allies free the city from their Canadian base by destroying the Amplifier. The Soviet chief commander, General Vladimir, retaliates by detonating a nuclear missile in the city. Alarmed, the leaders of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom agree to help the U.S. if they disarm the Soviet nuclear missile silos threatening them in Poland which the Commander and Tanya handle at the behest of the president. Now bolstered by additional men and equipment, the U.S. military is able to launch an amphibious assault on Soviet-occupied Washington, D.C. and recapture the city. After defending Pearl Harbor from Soviet assault, the Allied forces liberate St. Louis and all of the Mississippi River south of the city from psychic control and thwart Soviet attempts to replicate the Allied prism technology that creates massive energy beams to destroy units.
After General Carville tasks the Commander to defend Albert Einstein's laboratory which holds a prototype Chronosphere which can teleport troops anywhere in the world, he is killed by a Soviet suicide bomber. Einstein determines the best place to build the Chronosphere is on a tiny island in the Florida Keys, not far from Soviet Cuba. The Allies use the Chronosphere's teleportation capabilities to take an Allied strike team to Moscow where they successfully destroy the defenses around the Kremlin and teleport in a strike team led by Tanya that captures Premier Romanov, leading to the Soviets' surrender.
Premier Alexander Romanov briefs the Commander about the upcoming Soviet invasion of the United States. The Commander leads an invasion into Washington, D.C. and destroys the Pentagon. Another Soviet invasion is launched into Florida to destroy a U.S. fleet which was threatening the Soviet invasion of the East Coast. Despite this, the Soviet chief commander, General Vladimir, is credited with the success of those campaigns. While Vladimir is back in Moscow, Romanov's top advisor, Yuri, recommends the Commander could prove his worth by taking control of New York City using a Psychic Beacon. When Allied forces from South Korea launch an amphibious attack on Vladivostok, the Commander successfully repels the Allies, leading Germany and France to send troops to the German-Polish border to defend from Soviet aggression. The Commander takes advantage of this by conquering Paris, using the Eiffel Tower as a massive Tesla coil to destroy the city. With this, the European Allies are forced to withdraw their support for the United States.
In the meantime, Yuri has been using his psychic abilities to control Romanov, who gives him control of the military, much to the disgust of General Vladimir. Yuri dismisses Vladimir and tasks the Commander with establishing a base on the Hawaiian Islands. When the Allies try to use their Chronosphere to attack a Soviet research facility in the Ural Mountains, the Commander successfully defends the facility. Shortly afterwards, Yuri tells the Commander that Vladimir killed Romanov. Declaring Vladimir a traitor and a "nonperson", Yuri orders the Commander to capture Vladimir in the White House. After Vladimir's capture and execution, the Commander successfully captures the U.S. president and destroys the Allied superweapon: the weather control device; capable of creating powerful thunderstorms.
Impressed by the Commander's victories, Yuri invites them back to Moscow to thank them but their aide, Lt. Zofia, reveals that Romanov recorded a message before his death in which he reveals that Yuri was controlling him and orders them to bring Yuri to justice. The Commander attacks Moscow with the bulk of the Soviet army and destroys the Kremlin, seemingly killing Yuri. They then use information from Yuri's files to destroy the Allied last-ditch effort to assault the Soviet Union using another Chronosphere, effectively becoming the ruler of the world. In the final cutscene, it is revealed that Yuri has survived, his brain floating in a glass jar filled with water and telepathically communicates to the commander, saying: "It would have been good to see inside your mind, General. I still may get the chance...", setting the stage for Command & Conquer: Yuri's Revenge.
The Red Alert 2 soundtrack was composed by long-time Command & Conquer collaborator Frank Klepacki.
In the United States, Red Alert 2 debuted at #1 on PC Data's computer game sales chart for the October 22-28 period. Holding the position in its second week, the title became October's ninth-biggest computer game seller, according to PC Data. It proceeded to maintain an unbroken streak in the firm's weekly top 10 through the end of 2000, and to claim #1 and #7 for the overall months of November and December, respectively. Red Alert 2s domestic sales totaled 334,400 units by year's end, which drew revenues of $13.2 million. PC Data ultimately named it the United States' 13th-best-selling computer title of 2000. It took 14th for 2001, with sales of 388,893 units and revenues of $15 million.
In the United States, the game sold 810,000 copies and earned $26.9 million by August 2006, after its release in October 2000. It was the country's 11th best-selling computer game between January 2000 and August 2006. Combined sales of all Command & Conquer strategy games released between January 2000 and August 2006, including Red Alert 2, had reached 4.3 million units in the United States by the latter date. Red Alert 2 received a "Platinum" sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA), indicating sales of at least 300,000 copies in the United Kingdom.
In the German market, Red Alert 2 was expected to be a commercial success. PC Players Martin Schnelle predicted that it could be the best-selling game of the 2000 holiday season. It debuted at #1 on Media Control [de]'s computer game sales rankings for October 2000, and held this spot the following month. The Verband der Unterhaltungssoftware Deutschland [de] (VUD) presented Red Alert 2 with a "Gold" award at the end of November, indicating sales of at least 100,000 units across Germany, Austria and Switzerland. After taking fourth place in December, the game remained in Media Control's top 10 through February 2001, and in the top 14 through March. Red Alert 2 had sold roughly 180,000 units in the German region by May, a figure with which Electronic Arts was "very pleased", according to Udo Hoffman of PC Player.
While Red Alert 2s sales in the German market were strong, the game was less successful than its predecessor Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun. Discussing the performance of Red Alert 2 and its contemporary hits, Herman Achilles of the VUD described a "noticeable drop in sales, especially among mega sellers", which he attributed to growing piracy rates. Tom Meier of the German retailer PC Fun believed the game's lower demand was caused by players' "widespread disappointment" with Tiberian Sun. Hoffman wrote that Meier "had to open his shop half an hour earlier to cope with the crowds" for Tiberian Sun, while Red Alert 2 "was just a sale among many".
Gary Whitta reviewed the PC version of the game for Next Generation, rating it four stars out of five, and stated that "much better than Tiberian Sun, Red Alert 2 proves that Westwood can still cut it when it comes to realtime strategy - just don't expect a whole new ball game".
Red Alert 2 received mostly positive reviews, with IGN calling it outstanding and GamePro's Editor's Choice. One reviewer on GamePro noted that "it's not the most innovative game, but with its solid gameplay and alternate Cold War storyline, Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 is the best 2D real-time strategy game since StarCraft".
The game's cover art was redesigned to remove the depiction of a plane heading toward a WTC and to swap the U.S. flag on the front cover with a mushroom cloud. EA offered retailers an opportunity to exchange their copies with a version that bore the revised cover art. Despite the repackaging, the WTC continued to be present in the game's campaign, with the Soviet campaign giving the players the option to occupy and even destroy the buildings.