Red Alert 3 (RA3) is the latest game from EA LA that puts you back in the command seat for some destructive fun. It’s cheesier than you expect, but fun all the same.

You’re greeted with an opening scene of the Russians discussing the use of a secret project to save the war: a time machine. The Hell March 3 theme kicks in and the decision to bring back Frank Klepacki is all worthwhile.

I thought that at least this was different.  Cheesy but different.  If you’re not au fait with the RA story all you need to know is that Einstein went back in time to stop Hitler but ended up making the Russians hell bent on taking out the world. That’s really it.

And because you’re surrounded by Russians, the obligatory bad accents are present.  Keeping in the “cheesy” theme I mentioned earlier, the characters’ accents are funny, the facial expressions over done and the uniforms slightly silly.  So far so good.

Eagerly I jump on the tutorial, even though I already read the manual during the install. I don’t understand why most people don’t go through them, they are almost always helpful. 

The tutorials for RA3 are very good. Extremely fun as far as tutorials go so I really can’t fault them for that. They assume you know nothing and allow you the freedom to make your own mistakes.  I found we were missing some old orders and was given enough time per faction to try out each tech tree.

EA have removed aggressive attack move, the power down buildings option and have now given all units two types of attacks. With this in mind and the tutorials complete, I make my way to the main campaign where I prepare to take charge of the team I always like to play; the Allies. Instead I am advised to play the Russians, so without too much deliberation I go with the advice.

Instead of a civilised briefing you have some kind of half naked military advisor telling you to watch out for ambushes…well, she might as well have done I can’t remember as I was staring at her cleavage.  We all know sex sells, and it’s blatent to see that EA are running with this as fast as they can.

For each campaign mission you can play “solo” and have an AI commander backing you up or go online for a human to take its place, extremely cool but for this review I will be looking at the solo gamers experience and will see how much the AI can balls up my plans.

The graphics are very well thought out, and executed well even though they have a cartoony feel.  It maintains the RA feel. Nothing looks out of place and units blend well. Your men look like they are moving around “realistically” and not just jumping from one point to another nor floating over the ground. The visual effects are very good and units that have been hit look like they’ve been hit. Buildings crumble when blasted, making most of the environment seem destructible. The AI co-commanders are also surprisingly well done. They use your repair bays, assist you on attacks and complete objectives before you can. You can also give them very limited orders, which are nice but don’t work all that well.  They lack a little initiative.  For example, asking a unit to “take position here” will move the AI but they won’t attack or defend… they just get there and return home.

Path finding is also a little bit of a let down.  You’ll soon learn that only half your units will arrive at the enemy base unless there’s a clear path or you use the waypoint mode, which is truly your best friend when it comes to avoiding these glitches.  Apart from that the game plays really well. Nothing feels over powered and there is always something you can use to take other things out. I did finish the campaign rather quickly and felt quite disappointed with the random story. It seemed like one minute we were being invaded, then we’d stopped it (someone else must’ve done it as our entire mission was only to destroy two ships…) then we attacked the allies, but let’s forget about the empire. One attack on Japan, one attack on New York. Done. Campaign complete.

In hope that the story would get better and the campaigns a little more challenging, I continued on  with the rest of the solo campaigns. Suffice to say that it does get better, and the more time committed to the game allows you to involve yourself in the story. The missions flow one from the other, they are challenging in parts and you do feel like you are the commander in a world war. Shame you break that illusion whenever Gemma Atkinson frowns at you (you’ll know what I mean when you play it). There are problems with a few missions with triggers not triggering correctly, or your Mobile Construction Vehicle being in the wrong place. However these are few and far between.

All in all the game is star studded but the ones you see most often (your briefing girls) just can’t get it right. OK maybe that was just Gemma Atkinson but the wardrobe must’ve been way under budget from the sheer lack of materials they used. Most of the male actors looked the part and played the part quite well and you did feel like a man of the military in parts. For greatness I have one name for you: “the Hoff”. That should be enough for you to want to complete the allied campaign but I won’t say any more as I don’t want to be blasted for too many spoilers.

RA3 single player is for someone who wants a laugh but not for someone who wants immersion. The game-play is excellent apart from not allowing us to power down buildings and the bad path finding, causing this game to have much larger multi-player potential.  My tip to EA, next time go back to RA2 style for uniforms, Athena Massey was fine…Check out our interviews with both Gemma Atkinson and developers David Silverman and Greg Black.

Paul Younger
Founder and Editor of PC Invasion. Founder of the world's first gaming cafe and Veteran PC gamer of over 22 years.

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