In all honestly, I’m not a very clever kind of guy. I’m also kind of clumsy and can barely get a muffin in my mouth without getting a black eye, so there are a number of things Tim has made it clear I’m just flat-out not allowed to do at bit-tech.net.
That list of forbidden activities is fairly diverse and includes everything from ‘Touch the graphics cards’ to ‘Go anywhere near the graphics cards’ and ‘Be in the same room as the graphics cards’. And ‘Review RTS games, because you’re really bad at them’.
The one exception to that last rule has always been the Command and Conquer games, which were actually one of the first games I really got into when my Amiga finally kicked the bucket.
Unfortunately, the C&C series has long been suffering, with hardcore fans lamenting some of the recent instalments after Westwood’s acquisition by Electronic Arts and others citing the console ports as signs of an impending apocalypse. Can this latest instalment in the Red Alert franchise restore the series to glory even in the eyes of the elitist hardcore?
Let’s find out…
The spiralling and ever-expanding multiple universes of the Command and Conquer can be a bit hard to keep track of and when the developer has spread the Command and Conquer franchise over three different game series’ then it can get a bit of confusing. Best if we take it from the top…
As ever, Red Alert tells the story of a super-camp alternate history where the various military powers of the world have begun to master the power of psychic powers and time travel. Those two powers are mainly the Allies and the Soviets, with the Allies on the verge of victory after another long and bloody campaign.
The Soviets, naturally, are not very happy about all this. You might say that they are so angry they feel sickle – hah!
Anyway…the Soviet forces have the enemy at their gates and are resorting to desperate measures to ensure that they can survive. Taking a leaf out of Einstein’s book, who in Red Alert 2 travelled back in time to try and kill Hitler in an effort to bring about world peace, infinite bliss and muffins for all, the Soviets likewise stage a time-hopping assassination of their own.
This time though, the target is irony itself; Albert Einstein.
Now, if this were a Hollywood film where the heroes have to struggle valiantly to save the one man who bears the weight of the free world on his shoulders, then the rest of the game would show the Allies constantly trying to save Einstein’s life before driving the nail home and finishing off the Commie leeches!
But this isn’t a film. It’s a game with a twisted sense of humour and a lot of super-camp FMV cutscenes (oh yes, the FMVs are back). In other words then, Einstein promptly pops his German clogs and the Russians return to the future, triumphant.
Unfortunately, not all is as they expected. The Allies are still around for starters, though the Soviet forces are now the major superpower of the world and are on the edge of crushing the Capitalist dogs!
More pressing though is the emergence of a new world power – the Empire of the Rising Sun, aka the Japanese. Without Einstein’s theories pushing forward the understanding of nuclear weaponry, Hiroshima was never bombed and the Japanese have become the main threat to the Soviet instead, fighting them tooth and nail with an army of huge tanks, ninjas and obligatory references to Godzilla.
Can the Soviets or Japanese conquer the world in the name of communism, or will the Allies rise up once more? Only time will tell…