Command and Conquer was our Tiberian Sun replacement, After C&C2: TS (TiberianSun) was a huge let down (To most gamers, specially hard-core RTS gamers), Westwood had to make up for allot of mess.... TS mess.
Red Alert was a huge hit, no one can deny having a bad time building those tesla coils! RedAlert 2 has to be hyped, after all, it is a sequel and we do have a pretty good Idea about the Original Red Alert, So, Did RA2 Live up to the hype?
For those hoping that Westwood will come to their senses and rush back to the good old, Topdown perspective view, well, Be disappointed :P
Westwood took the Tiberian Sun Engine, Tweaked it, enhanced it and packed it up with a totally new game, Red Alert 2.
Whether this was a right move or not, its not my review's point (Maybe using the 3D perspective was only a phase to make us ready to the next C&C3, which will be based on a 3D Engine), But, Lets concentrate on the real issue, Are the graphics good?
Personally, I find the graphics a little Too Toony, meaning that the units, buildings, tanks and basically everything looks very cartoonish, I find that More realistic graphics are better to a RTS, giving a degree of reality to the RTS. Oh well, Although the Graphics are somewhat Cartoonish/Childish, they are somewhat detailed, the colors brightened up (in most maps and situations), many colors (which give you a more Interesting field to play at) and more Non Essential buildings, units and people just Being there.
It does spice up the game having animals here and there, Cars parked in the parking lot and so on, but the main issue is, that the graphics Aren't the Westwood Quality we've seen in the originals, Having so many API's and engines to work with today, Westwood could have created a 3D based game with Topdown view only or the same perspective RA2 is using right now, But I guess they wanted to insure
that whatever they do, they do right (Good strategy ;P).
Overall, the graphics are not that splendid, you might find yourself asking "Why the hell does this game look so lame?", But soon to find that the gameplay does Cover up the gaps in the graphics department.
The Cutscenes, as always, no RTS game will be able to compete with Westwoods Cutscenes, featuring kickass cutscenes and briefings in full video and audio makes the entire RA2 experience even more cool.
Westwood made sure the game will be "Fun", Fast gameplay insures that the New-Mid RTS gamer will enjoy every minute of the game, You will have to stick to your computer screen all the time to insure your safety, Westwood went into the Fast Lane in RedAlert 2, making the game somewhat more Action packed than Strategy based (In Skirmish at least, that's how I rate my RTS's). Once again, Westwood is trying to make a new springy of RTS's, you might call RA2 VERY different than Tiberian Sun and surely different than the Dune series. The "Action" Packed strategy is quite nice, you find your self Attacking more, Building more, Attacking more and hoping to get through the next enemy attack, you might find the SuperWeapons to your liking when YOU use them, while when being attacked, you'll just want to turn them off next time, As they are
very devastating :p.
The Variety Westwood added to the game is very refreshing, new maps, new objects (cars, vehicles, troops, tanks, buildings), Continuing story line and New Sides. No longer you are limited to the Allies or Soviets, but you can choose between the US, Germany, Iraq, Cuba, Libya, France and others.... Each one having a special Super unit (reminds me of Dune2), giving each side its own Edge, its own uniqueness.
Westwood also added a very important feature, just lately introduced in some RTS games (Such as Earth 2150), the multiple tabs, Each one of its own unit/building category. Supporting 4 tabs, You can choose from Defense buildings, Main buildings (War Factory, Service depot...), Infantry and Vehicles. The many units RA2 sports makes it quite fun to play, I predict hours over hours of gameplay, Specially
online (I will have a more in-depth Multiplayer Review if I get some feedback..).
"A game without Sound is like TV without Cable" -Soultrape. As I said before, the variety that Westwood had worked on, didn't end at the Graphics or gameplay, but gave different voices for each and every party that plays in the game, I think that actually Putting more and more audio, graphics and effects into games, Does help the overall RTS experience (if truly integrated without hurting the gameplay), The music is pretty much good, nothing really special, after all, its just music :P
Well, overall, I think that RA2 is a good game to get, Not as good as we all wanted (RedAlert Originaaal) but still, a good RTS. For the best experience of the game, Go online and start blow'en up those enemies you got there.... Big time! CLANS: Good luck! :P
In my opinion, and I think that this is the most important part of the review, RA2 is merely the jump point of Westwoods future plans, which are going 3D. Emperor: Battle for Dune, Westwoods latest announcement, is the continuing of the original Dune2 (finally), It will be featured with Westwoods own 3D Engine, Hopefully a good one, Which will be the ground tool for future C&C and DUNE games (C&C3: Tiberian Twilight, RedAlert 3?). Not to forget Blizzard, which will be bringing WarCraft 3 into the 3D Universe, which will lead to an Open Blizzard vs. Westwood war (Again, This is where RTS's will be having its best period).
Hopefully, WC3 vs. Dune3/Emperor will be a milestone for Westwood and Blizzard to actually go through and make better RTS's than ever before......