Electronic Arts Los Angeles dropped by our offices earlier this week with a couple of travel-friendly PCs containing the practically-finished-might-as-well-be-final version of Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3. This was our first time getting an up-close look at the campaign and how it will play out in a co-operative fashion.
It's really cool, actually. The entire campaign can be played by two players simultaneously over the Internet. If you're playing alone, the game doesn't scale down to a smaller solo-style campaign. Instead, it plugs the hole with an AI-based commander. This means that the missions have been built from the ground up with co-operation in mind, so some missions will have the two forces starting out with bases in different areas on the map, letting you plan out attacks thatt hit your enemies from both sides, or quicking working your way up the tech tree by building structures inside each others' build radius, and so on. I got a chance to sit down with two of the game's producers, Amer Ajami and Greg Kasavin, to get a run-through of how it's all going to work by playing through the third mission of the Allied campaign.
Check out this video for more on that and just about everything else we learned about Red Alert 3.
I have to admit, I played pretty poorly and probably would have gotten wiped out if Greg hadn't built some stuff in or near my base. If you want to play efficiently, then there's definitely a lot to consider at any given time. Every unit in Red Alert 3 has a secondary mode that you can toggle by clicking a button on-screen or by pressing the F key. Since that seems pretty important, my antiquated Red Alert 1-era tactics of "create a mixed force of units and roll around the map mindlessly blowing stuff up as one big mess of dudes" probably won't fly too well when things get hectic and specific mode changes (such as a handy lockdown mode that can stop those pesky Soviet tesla coils from firing) are required.
That also probably means that I don't stand any chance at all online. I don't know if you went out and downloaded the multiplayer beta that was released, but it was a potent reminder that the people who have continued to play real-time strategy games over the years are total savages in multiplayer matches. I'd be barely making my way up the tech tree only to succumb to hastily thrown-together rushes in minutes. Dudes are good. Scratch that. I am not very good.
But I'm not too worried about my multiplayer skills, as this brief brush with the campaign has me really excited to play the final product. The cast appears to be terrific and the cutscenes that I've seen so far appear to be exactly the sort of "taking it seriously because that makes it way funny" stuff that the game needs. Watching how this new, completely reset story unfolds and the personality of the different units and factions will be at least half the fun for me.
While they were here, we pulled Amer and Greg into our audio studio (you know, the tables around back?) and recorded a little Bonus Bombcast with them to talk about the development of the game and the roles they played in its creation. Be sure to check that out to receive the full effects of our Red Alert 3 coverage. The game is scheduled to hit shelves on 10/28 for PC and 11/11 for the Xbox 360.