Red Alert 3: Rock, Paper, Sickle
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It was 1996-- we were young and waiting for a brand new RTS called Red Alert. Command and Conquer 95 was a big hit, and fans just wanted more and more. October 31st, 1996 fans got what they wanted. A RTS that, still today, boasts having the most complex and fun gameplay in any RTS game. Fans couldn't get enough of this alternate World War II universe, so Westwood created two expansion packs for the game. And then came EA...
After Sucking up Puzzabug's Harvester With the Megnetic Power, He had No Econ. Balanced Force FTW...
Under EA's mighty wing, Red Alert 2 came out on October 23, 2000. It was fun and had back and forth action. The game was a little unbalanced, but the diversity of the units made up for it. A year later Yuri's Revenge came out. The addition of Navy Seals made Soviet infantry useless; not to mention a Guardian GI inside a Battle Fortress was completely unbalanced crap. The Battle Fortress could just back up and out range any tank. Regardless, the game was a susses and people loved the new storyline and units.
Finally, a new Red Alert game is scheduled to come out seven years after the previous sequel. But wait, that's a good thing right? Well... Kind of...
Much of the Game is Doing This...
After playing Red Alert 3 Beta, I can't say that I am too impressed with the way things are shaping up. No, this isn't a "balance" issue that they will fix quickly and change the way I look at it. It is a gameplay issue that is way too screwy. I call it-- Rock, Paper, Sickle... Or if you prefer, the "Counter-Counter" gameplay style.
Say if you have 10 tanks that you are commanding and you send it into an enemy base, let's call these tanks "rocks". Now you could try to fight rocks with rocks and send tanks to defeat them, but that won't really be efficient. You could send "scissors" or infantry and build base defences, but that would only kill a couple. What is the "paper"? It's the one thing that can kill all of the tanks, aircraft or sea power.
The Balanced Force Wins Again!
Unlike previous Red Alert games, it's not how many of one unit you build, it's what you build. In other Red Alert games, you could build 20 Mammoth Tanks and win the game easily; but here it's a whole new ballgame. Economy runs this. If you have more money than the other person, and build the "balanced" force, you will win. Other Red Alert games required more strategy. The opponent could have 100 tanks, but if you out micro-ed your opponent, you would win.
This style of gaming makes this very hard to defend some attacks. For example, if you infantry rush as Allies and your opponent is close to you, the game is over. The shotgun troops have great damage against anything and absolutely nothing can stop them early game. Once players figure out all the units that cannot be countered against, they will exploit them; pretty much ending the multiplayer fun.
I see the addition of the secondary attacks as a way to boost this idea; the idea of micro. But it has back fired-- now that every unit has a secondary function, the game puts more pressure on the player. Instead of having fun trying to out micro your opponent, you have to counter his secondary functions with your own. Also, there are a few secondary functions that overpower the original attack, like the Flak Trooper's mines which kill a Stingray in one attack.
Rocket attacks do absolutely nothing to enemy infantry, you would have to create a new unit of measure to record how much damage is being done to the infantry. This is another example of HAVING to have the right units for the job, having a "balanced" force.
Stick to the Plan, and You'll See a Lot of This.
Terror drone spam can defeat any tank force now as well. Even though the unit is metal and is built out of the war factory, the only thing effective against it is an anti infantry unit. Again, having a "balanced" force is the only way to win in this.
The list goes on and on-- if you do not have the right unit for the job, don't expect to win. In theory, there is nothing wrong with this, but in Ra3, there is. For me, I do the same thing every game and still manage to win. Every game is the same, and defeating people isn't very fun if one knows exactly what to do. Economy + Balance = Win. No exceptions.
The Only Screen That Matters.
The game looks like Willy Wonka made it... I don't want to use my strategy points because I hate seeing girly effects! Everything is so shinny and upbeat... I can't believe Martha Stewart wasn't an executive producer.
Noobs on Ra3 never get a chance. In previous game, even a noob could pull off a basic engineer rush, but now it is impossible. As soon as the engineer enters your radar, the game screams, "ENEMY ENGINEER DETECTED". What is the use of putting them in there, being able to capture enemy buildings, when it's just going to blow my cover the second I try to capture something...
A Noob Getting Owned.
This new Red Alert requires players to think before they build anything. It is no longer strategies, but economy and the right units that run this game. A build order is more effective than the player.
Please note that Red Alert 3 isn't as bad as I'm putting it, I actually enjoy it. I'm excited for the new story line and such, but I want to address this issue. Although some may not consider Vanilla Generals a "C&C Game", it did have a very good balance and gameplay system; despite some few exceptions.
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