Last Updated on October 26, 2023 by James
Red Alert 3 follows the fall of the Soviet Union at the hands of the Allies once again. On the precipice of total defeat, Colonel Cherdenko along with General Krukov go back in time to assassinate Albert Einstein: creator of the ‘Chronosphere’ device, and the very instrument of the Soviet Union’s demise. The assassination is a success, and Krukov returns to the present to find Cherdenko as Premier (much to his disdain), while the Soviet war machine is on the cusp of conquering Europe. All seems to be going well for the Russians, that is, until the Japanese stage a surprise attack against the Soviets. As the war in Europe was raging, the Empire of the Rising Sun had been all the while secretly developing and constructing a technologically advanced army, something of which the world has never seen before. Unable to manage a war on two fronts, and without their nuclear capabilities (they assassinated Einstein, remember?), the Soviets are forced into a temporary alliance with the Allies in order to quell the threat emanating from the pacific, the Empire of the Rising Sun.
The story acts as a kind of ‘reset button’ for the series; so now, instead of Red Alert 3 being set in alternate universe, it is set in an alternate, alternate universe. Confusing? Well, yes – it is – but it doesn’t really matter because the story is mostly nonsense anyway and isn’t really supposed to be taken seriously. The whole point of the Red Alert universe was to provide C&C fans with a welcome break from the bleak setting of the Tiberium universe, and so, of course, the plot is going to be totally absurd. The characters of the story accordingly follow suit and are the best source of humor to be found in the game. In between the missions are FMV cutscenes featuring such notables among others: George Takei, J.K. Simmons, Jenny McCarthy, Tim Curry and er…Gemma Atkinson – best known for flexing her acting muscles on UK TV soap Hollyoaks, or flexing something at least (usually her breasts for the camera). Despite her low acting credentials, she actually plays the part well and does everything which is required of her and that is, in a word: to look pretty, smile and convey enthusiasm. Everyone is a stereotype here, either hamming it up big time or flirting with the camera – usually both. Tim Curry is a riot as the lecherous, power-mad Premier; J.K. Simmons shows a good turn as the apple-pie lovin’, commie hatin’, god-fearing President and Peter Stormare’s performance as the Soviet scientist Dr. Gregor Zelinsky, a bundle of nervous sticks and stutters, frequently steals the scene wherever he is.
With all the money that seems to have be put into getting these ‘A-list’ actors, you could be forgiven for wondering if they forgot about the gameplay in all of this. Fortunately, they haven’t. Red Alert 3 follows the same general gameplay mechanics laid down by its predecessors – in other words: build up a base, build up an army and annihilate your opponent. The rock-paper-scissors approach to gameplay is still here and each side is well balanced against each other. The Russians tend to favor an aggressive ‘brute force’ approach, while the Allies are more technology focused. The Empire of the Rising Sun on the other hand is the wild card out of the three, emphasizing flexibility and adaptability. Taking its influence from Japanese anime and manga, this faction sports a whole new style of base building and several units often have two forms they can take. For instance, the ‘Striker VX’ is reminiscent of the AT-ST from Star Wars in its primary form but with AA capabilities, while in its secondary form, transforms into a helicopter which can target ground troops.
The classic C&C sidebar is still present and correct from previous games; however, each faction, while unique in the units and buildings it has access too, also possesses different base building methods. While playing the Soviets, to build: you must place the building on the battlefield first before it begins to constructs itself over time until its complete. This is opposed to the Allied faction where you click the ‘build’ button, wait for the building to become ready, and then place the building on the battlefield. These changes sound may sound trivial and cosmetic, but they do make a difference in the heat of the battle and in how you plan your strategy. As mentioned before, the Rising Sun faction has a very different approach to base-building, where the individual buildings and base defenses are produced inside the MCV as compact mobile units, which the player can then order to move and unpack wherever.