Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Revisiting Red Alert 2, the classical RTS game I used to play

Some time last week, I spotted my brother playing Red Alert 2 on his gaming rig. So I joined in the fun and watched him play. After that, I played a few games myself with understandings of military tactics I've never tried before. With the new strategy, I managed to finish an easy enemy in around 20 minutes in skirmish mode. Now that's an achievement for me!

I saw the game for the first time watching my uncle playing it in his house. Immediately, I got hooked. The adrenaline rush was simply addicting. Then I bought gaming CD to playing by myself. I was a total beginner back then when I couldn't handle a brutal enemy.

You know, how I miss this game! With my old playing style, it took me hours to secure my base and finish off the computer controlled opponent. I was more fascinated with abilities of units instead of using strategy to win games. When studies took over, my interest in the game died down. A few years later, I revisited the game after gaining some new understandings from my studies and other interests.

I wasn't a big fan of playing missions but friends told me that is the core of the game. I started to appreciate missions in Red Alert 2 after I understood the beauty of storyline in movies/games. I didn't go back to actually playing the missions but there's Youtube, so I watched the playthrough videos from players instead.

If you haven't know about this game, here's a short intro. There are two playable factions in Red Alert 2, which are the Allies (all Western countries plus South Korea) and Soviet (Russia and other communist states). The expansion, Yuri's Revenge, has Allied, Soviet and Yuri as playable factions.

Screenshot of Red Alert 2. Image source

To really understand what the game is all about, it helps to have a good grasp of history and international politics. Real history says that we had World War 2, followed by the Cold War which was the division between capitalist and communist blocs. In the alternate timeline of Red Alert universe, after the real World War 2, Albert Einstein traveled back in time to erase Adolf Hitler from time. Without the rise of Nazi Germany, Russia (Soviets) grew so much in power. This led to the Great World War 2 (Red Alert 1) and Great World War 3 (Red Alert 2). After the end of Red Alert 2: Yuri's Revenge, some Soviet officers went back in time to erase Albert Einstein from history. So there was no invention of atomic bomb and no bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. And you guess what? By the time the Soviet officers returned to their time, Japan grew so much in power as the Empire of The Rising Sun thus setting the events for Red Alert 3.

Why do you want to play Red Alert 2? It was certainly one of the success of real time strategy (RTS) games. While the actual gameplay forms the core of the experience, the narrative of the game is another driving force behind this game. The narrative of the game is what sets the stage for missions and puts the gameplay in context.

There are indeed some extra stuff I've found, and they are of interest.

The making of Red Alert 2. You can meet the actors who portrayed the characters in the cutscenes.

Watch how Udo Kier, a German actor, is transformed into Yuri in the game. Yuri is a psychic who can mind control enemy units.

Another screenshot of the game. Image source

Red Alert 2 is named one of the best real time strategy and military tactic game in history. It's time to move on and I'm excited to see better games in store!

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