Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 represents one small step for the real-time strategy (RTS) genre, one giant leap for furthering its console appeal.
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3's engaging style and intuitive gameplay invite uninitiated console strategists to enjoy the previously PC-dominant RTS genre.
Command & Conquer with console-friendly controls
Just as Sid Meier's Civilization: Revolution made strides in successfully delivering a previous PC-dominant series' to consoles, Electronic Arts' Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3 offers Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 gamers a chance to appreciate what the mouse-and-keyboard crowd have been enjoying for years (and still can).
And while Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 is far from the first attempt to bring a real-time strategy (or even a C & C) title to the console crowd, it is one of the better efforts to date.
Point-and-click snobs will no doubt find fault in the gamepad-mapped controls, but those who don't know any better - the target audience for a console RTS, I'd think - will find Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 intuitive and accessible.
A smartly implemented trigger system helps handle most of the work; depressing the left and right triggers bring up the "Radar" mode and "Command" menu, respectively, allowing - with additional button and bumper inputs - a simple way to build and manage units, scan the map, and generally make you feel like a commanding and conquering badass.
Of course, if Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 is your first shot at RTS domination, you'll want to let the tutorial walk you through the paces. The control's welcoming vibe is further complemented by vibrant visuals and fast-paced skirmishes; two somewhat unconventional characteristics for the cerebral substance-over-style genre.
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 - style to spare
Once comfortable with the controls, you'll discoverCommand & Conquer: Red Alert 3's over-the-top, B-movie style steals the show. The ridiculous sci-fi, WWIII, time travelling-infused tale is supported by the series' staple live-action cutscenes; here you'll find the likes of fan favourite actors Tim Curry, Peter Stormare and Gerorge Takei hamming it up, while scantily clad hotties, headed-up by Jenny McCarthy, supply the buns-and-guns appeal.
The notoriously serious genre gets an additional jolt of fun from some inventively wacky weapons of mass destruction. All three factions - Allies, Soviets, Empire of the Rising Sun - have access to unique units that you definitely won't find in any historically accurate strategy sim.
Some of my faves include the beast-based units: the Soviets' armoured War Bear emits a deafening roar, temporarily disabling its victims, and the Allies' dolphins - so smart they make Flipper's intelligence look lame - are outfitted with baddie-blasting sonic projectiles.
My affection for animals saw me seeking the most from the ass-kicking creatures, but others will discover countless other ways to execute creative kills through Red Alerts 3's brimming land-, sea- and air-based arsenal, tweaked to world-dominating perfection by sci-fi technology and futuristic experimentation.
The RTS genre's notoriously slower pace and complex controls can be a bit snooze-inducing to newcomers, but Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3's smooth interface, fast-paced action, crazy-ass weapons, and endlessly entertaining cheesy style should keep even the most short attention-spanned gamer engaged.
The title also packs in the content with dozens of missions, off and online play, and an addictive co-op mode providing the perfect invitation for unseasoned strategists to learn the ropes with a buddy.
It's still a niche genre that won't pull every trigger-happy gamer from the FPS frontlines, and yes, strategy fans raised on PC controls will no doubt find flaws. However, as a genre still struggling to carve a comfortable spot in the console market, the RTS has found its best ambassador in Red Alert 3.
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