Game Info:

Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3
Developed by: EA Los Angeles
Published By: Electronic Arts
Release Date: October 28th, 2008
ESRB Rating: Teen for Blood, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, Violence
Genre: Real Time Strategy (RTS)
Single (with co-op) and 6 player Multiplayer 
Price New: $19.99; Used: $7.50

The second sequel to one of the most well known Real Time Strategy games of all time, Red Alert 3, has a lot to live up to. Since this is the first Red Alert game not developed at the now defunct Westwood Studios, there are bound to be changes. The game starts out in a familiar enough way; a Russian scientist and two officers take a time machine back to 1932 to kill Albert Einstein, in the same way that Einstein killed Hitler at the beginning of the first Red Alert. But just as the assassination of Hitler had unintended consequences, the death of Einstein has allowed the Japanese, “Empire of the Rising Sun,” to come into power. Now the Soviets and Allies find that they must work together to overcome this common enemy... for a while, anyway.

There is a single-player campaign for each of the three factions: Allies, Soviets and Empire. They all start out with similar premises and share a few events, but like the previous games in the series, each  is separate from the others, leading to three different endings depending on which side you choose. The Empire campaign is really the only one of the three that comes close to telling a compelling story, but even it suffers from a little too much jumping around the globe with little connecting one mission to the next. But none of these stories address the problems in the time line that the Soviets' actions would have caused, despite the inventor of the time machine talking about it several times. Essentially, this the new time line would wipe out the events of all the other Red Alert games. This feels a little heavy-handed, even if none of them were exactly grand epics.

The single-player missions themselves consist of an opening cutscene, a mission overview and lastly a mission briefing before you finally get into the action. All of this exposition gives you a good idea of what you need to be doing and why, but also slows down the overall pacing. Once you do start a mission it's usually pretty straight forward; build up your base and destroy, or capture, any mission objectives. There are some missions where you start out with a small squad that will need to clear the way for your MCV (Mobile Construction Vehicle) before you get to the base-building part. In many missions, when you reach a certain point, the battlefield will expand and give you new objectives. Two missions that stood out for me were during the Empire campaign, which gives the player control a giant, ridiculously powerful robot. Other missions also have their moments thanks to some nice set piece battles that can be quite creative.


Strong points:

Diverse factions; amphibious units and structures; colorful graphics; great water effects;  co-op campaign is a nice idea (in theory).

Weak points:

Not all unit specials are useful; cheesy cutscenes may turn some people off; can be difficult micro managing large numbers of units; new resource system may not appeal to fans; lack of game modes for multi-player.

Moral warnings:

War violence; some blood; immodest dress in cut scenes; sexual innuendos; some language; leaders are portrayed in a negative light.


It will take you about 15 hours to complete the single-player campaigns, depending on your skill level and difficulty settings. After which there's a nice variety of skirmish and multiplayer maps for you to choose from. Also, all of the campaign missions can be played solo or with another human player, with one person playing as the “co-commander” (which is controlled by a bot in solo mode). I wasn't able to test the co-op due to some technical problems. But connection problems aside, there doesn't seem to be much of anyone in the co-op lobbies anymore. So, unless you have a friend that you can play with, this probably won't be a real selling point.

But whether single or multi-player, the gameplay still has a lot that will be familiar to long-time fans. You still build structures and units from a tabbed side bar, though how the buildings are built is different for each side. The Allies are the closest to the classic Command and Conquer style; you click on the icon of the building you want and wait for it to build before selecting where to deploy it on the battlefield. The Soviets are similar, except they can place their buildings right from the start and have them slowly build from the ground up. The Empire, on the other hand, uses “Nano-cores.” These fragile units come out of your construction yard and must physically move to a location before they can deploy into a structure. Since Nano-cores can deploy almost anywhere on the map, the Empire can expand very quickly.

Whatever their build style, all factions can now build many of their structures on water, which helps facilitate the increased number of amphibious units. Additionally, packing up your construction yard and moving it into the sea can help you escape a large land force that's broken through your defenses.  EA has also brought the support powers feature from Command and Conquer: Generals into Red Alert. Just like in Generals you gain support points when you damage enemies, which can then be spent on powers that aid you in battle. However, powers that directly deal damage (such as air strikes) are less powerful than in Generals, so you'll have to level a bit before you have access to anything game changing.

Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 78%
Game Play:17/20
Sound: 6/10
Stability: 4/5
Controls/Interface: 4/5

Morality Score - 64%
Violence: 5/10
Language: 7/10
Sexual Content: 5/10
Occult/Supernatural: 8.5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical: 6.5/10

Every unit now has a secondary ability, though not all of them are all that exciting. Transports, for instance, simply unload troops. But others have access to a new weapon, or even transform into something completely new. Learning how a unit's special ability works can be huge advantage, though to fully utilize it you'll have to micromanage your army more than in most Command and Conquer games. Not everyone will want to play this way, and it's not always essential. Many of the abilities can be set before a battle and forgotten. When attacking, just remember to have a good mix of unit types or know what the enemy has beforehand to exploit their weaknesses.

By far the biggest changes come to the economy. You can now only build a refinery adjacent to “Ore Mines” and only a single harvester can mine from it. So there's no longer an advantage to building more harvesters than refineries, unless you're distance mining. This means that your income is a bit more steady than in previous games, and it's easier to defend your harvesters. However, Ore Mines do have a limited amount of Ore and once they run out you'll only get a minute amount from them. If you want more income you either need to find more Ore Mines, or use an Engineer to capture an Oil Derrick (which will never run dry but can be destroyed).

The look of Red Alert 3 is also a bit different. It presents a battlefield filled with color, life and over-the-top effects. At times it can feel quite a bit like Red Alert 2, but more stylized. The more “cartoony” look may be a bit much for some people, but one thing everyone should be able to appreciate is the water. Every object that passes through a body of water causes ripples and wakes that look quite beautiful. This is a nice touch, since there's more emphasis on naval and amphibious units. Sounds are okay, though nothing spectacular. Unit voices are generally good and there are some nice sound effects. Music is kind of mixed. There are one or two nice tunes for menus and cut scenes but in-game music gets monotonous and boring quickly.


As for content that Christians should be concerned about, there are definitely a few points to consider. Obviously this is a game about war and many human (and animal) soldiers will die in a variety of ways. There is a little puff of blood when infantry are hit with bullets. But bodies do disappear rather quickly, without gore or pools of blood. There are also some language problems, which include; d***, h***, b****d, a** and the British b****y; God's name is also thrown around a few times. These are infrequent and spaced throughout the campaigns, the worst coming from the Allies, but still feels like a step backwards from Red Alert 2.

There is also some spiritual content worth noting: The Japanese have a commando that uses psychic powers, and The Emperor sees himself as a living god, who considers it his divine destiny to conquer the world. Another concern is every one of the three national leaders in the game are eccentric egomaniacs that, at some point, put their own interests ahead of their people's safety. In fact the Emperor is really the only one that ends up being likable by the end, and he's the one that thinks he's a god and is trying to take over the world!

What I found to be the most disturbing was in the area of sexual content. Much like its predecessors, the game utilizes live action cut scenes, most of which feature women in immodest dress. While Red Alert 2 did have a few problems in this area, Red Alert 3 takes it a few steps further. There is no actual nudity, or explicit sexual references, but there is constantly the feeling that the creators are trying to make this game feel “sexy.” Low necklines, high hems and exposed mid sections are seen throughout all three campaigns. There are also a few mild innuendos and some scenes that are rather suggestive.

In the end, Red Alert 3 might not be the strongest game in the series, but I found it to be a solid RTS overall. It does a good job of moving the series forward while still maintaining the feel of previous games. The special abilities allow for a more tactical style of play, without forcing it on you. There is also a lot of diversity between the three factions, giving them all a very unique feel. However, the story is too scattered and wipes out the established continuity in order to focus on the new faction. But what makes this title really hard to recommend is all of the suggestive sexual content. Ultimately, despite what the developers might think, the high skirts and gratuitous cleavage add nothing to the game but potential stumbling blocks, and actually take away from what could've been a great addition to the series.


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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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