Articles & Editorials: Red Alert 2 – The Future of 2-D Warfare?

  • Date: 24/05/2000 | Author: Lord-D

A few weeks ago Westwood dropped a bombshell, that we had been sort of expecting, but we had no idea the scope of. This Bombshell was Red Alert 2 (Or as some dumb-asses are calling it, Command and Conquer 4.) Perhaps the biggest surprise was that Westwood is now pursuing a policy of ‘Balancing high’ something that war-gamers have been clamouring for, for years.

Balancing High:

This will be RA2’s most distinguishing feature. The theory is that instead of balancing sides by reducing the effectiveness and power of their units, they balance the sides by making each sides weapons and units insanely powerful. This will make things interesting if anything. The balance of power in these games will shift on average every ten minutes by estimates. Take this scenario: A battalion of Soviet Rhino and Apocalypse Tanks are making their way to an allied base, which is no match for it’s awesome power. However in the blink of an eye, the allies use their Weather Control Device to level half the soviet power base and build support towers for their network of prism cannons, increasing the fire-power of their supposedly defenceless base to a level where those tanks are in trouble. Advantage allies, all in the blink of an eye. Of course the Soviets could respond with a Nuclear weapon, or Iron Curtain their assault force to increase it’s power, or use Yuri to gain control of some of the allied defenders. But then, the Allies could warp some Chrono-Legionnaires into Soviet territory to finish them off. It’s endless, and it’s a far cry from ‘Nod-have-used-a-sub-APC-with-a-Cyborg-Commando-so-you’re-f***ed’ tactics which dominated Tiberian Sun (Though those who used this ‘strategy’ are generally regarded to be lame.)

However this may not work as well as Westwood want it to. Already I see the Soviets as having an advantage with Nuclear Weaponry (though who knows, the weather machine could be very cool) and any weapon which can effectively change the course of the game so quickly must be perfectly balanced. Both the aforementioned weapons can create ‘Game-Over’ situations in the blink of an eye. Also there is no way of repelling these weapons other than their destruction in the enemy base. Allied Gap Generators will give them an advantage, but as advocates of the Stealth Generator will tell you, it’s not a perfect system. Perhaps Westwood should have some sort of Countdown and Evacuation procedure? Or perhaps ‘Turtle-mode’ (Which now seems to be being removed) wasn’t such a bad idea. In any case these weapons are a risk.

Despite these concerns, I have no doubt RA2 will be THE game of 2000 (Or 2002 if Westwood follow their regular scheduling process.) Not only is it offering a blinding game, and most importantly, the units are COOL! Tiberian Sun had a grim ‘n’ gritty functionality theme going on. Even Hover Tanks failed to excite, and there were precious few ‘Make the enemy shit their pants’ units. With RA2 it seems every other unit is designed to freak your opponent out. Only Westwood would create something called ‘The Apocalypse Atomic Tank’ and Naval units now seem to be designed with the purpose of creating a constant barrage of fire-power (Witness, Aircraft Carriers, Missile Ships, all designed to level the coastline.) And I challenge any Soviet player to remain calm when he sees ten Chrono-troopers suddenly appear right next to his Construction Yard, taking out all of his tanks with a single shot each, or any Allied trooper to not go boggle-eyed when these same troops are killed instantaneously in a psionic blast from Yuri. What’s the Red Terror going to say when he sees bastardised versions of his own units, appropriated by Allied intelligence bearing down on him. If anything, RA2 will be varied. Here’s hoping this daring venture works.

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