J. Jonah Jameson was trying to blow up Moscow with a giant laser built into Theodore Roosevelt's head on Mount Rushmore, which wasn't good at all, because that would destroy my peace treaty with Doctor Frank N. Furter, whom I desperately needed on my side to help me defeat Lieutenant Sulu.
Red Alert 3 is a brilliant RTS game, set in an alternate timeline after the Soviets went back in time and rewrote history (again) by murdering Albert Einstein. It’s even more ridiculous than it sounds, and serves as an almost perfect sequel to my all-time favourite RTS, Red Alert 2. It’s fun, campy, and often hilarious, while still serving up slice after slice of the Command & Conquer we all know and love.
There are three campaigns to be played through: Soviet Union, Allies, and The Empire of the Rising Sun. Each campaign consists of 9 missions, and it took me about 23 hours to beat them all. When you’re done with that, there’s custom Skirmishes and the Uprising expansion to play through.
The soundtrack is a blast, and Frank Klepacki, the musical genius behind the rocktronic compositions for the original C&C through to Renegade, returns once more for three tracks: Hell March 3, Grinder 2, and The Red Menace, which steal the show above the rest of the game's music. Pity he didn't compose the entire soundtrack.
But the reason I’ve hailed RA3 as an ‘almost perfect’ sequel is because it was held back by one flaw: Co-op. Each mission is designed to be played with a partner. I was never able to connect with the one friend I tried to play with, but EA is shutting the down the servers now, so you can’t play with a real person anyway, which means you’re stuck with AI co-commanders working alongside you.
Now don’t get me wrong. They far from ruin the game, and at times, you’ll be glad they’re there, but for the most part, I truly wish that EA had stuck with a single-player campaign. Having an AI working alongside you, blindly sending in troops and making a fool of him/herself, can really throw off your strategy. You might be planning to capture an enemy base, so you invade and take out any turrets and tanks and whatever, but then your co-commander runs in and blows the whole place to Hell and back while your engineers are still running towards their designated structures. The only way to avoid this is to order your co-commander to take point at a position of your choice, and to then repeat this order every 10 seconds until your engineers have done their job, but that becomes far too annoying very quickly.
The AI also has a knack for completing objectives without you, which is a nuisance, because it pushes missions into the next stage before you're ready, and who wants an AI to steal all the glory?
There was this one mission where I had to take out a massive gun, but I also had to eat fish 'n' chips, so I wandered away, satisfied with my defenses, leaving the game running to build me a massive overkill army while I enjoyed my meal and dreamt about the chaos that would ensue when I returned. But by the time I’d sat down at my computer again, my co-commander had gone ahead and destroyed the gun without me, thus completing that objective and robbing me of the pleasure. It was my fault for walking away, but I was disappointed just the same.
This is only a small nuisance though, and they'll never finish the final objective until you've initiated the attack. Plus, Command & Conquer isn’t about taking it slowly and massing an army so huge it removes the challenge. It’s about racing to gather resources and throw a force together as quickly as you can so you can charge in and wipe your enemy off the face of the planet. But when you reach some of the later missions, the AI can really screw you over. For instance, I was defending Pearl Harbour during the Empire of the Rising Sun campaign, and my co-commander told me that he'd protect the eastern shores. He failed at doing so abysmally, and since I'd been concentrating on the western side, I couldn't come to his aid in time to avoid failing the mission.
But don’t let any of that turn you off purchasing this game. Co-op aside, it’s amazing and glorious and zany and perfect in every way. It’s been a long time since I’ve had so much fun playing a game, and I know I’ll be putting a lot more time into it across Skirmishes and a replay on the hard difficulty setting, only this time I’ll know not to trust my AI partner.
Now if you'll excuse me, 'I am escaping to one place that hasn't been corrupted by capitalism—SPHACE!'