Articles & Editorials: What Red Alert 2 Needs

Just before E3 2000, Westwood unveiled one of the best kept secrets in the world of computer games, Red Alert 2. In this next instalment to the C&C series, Westwood promised new structures, units, missions, and features. Some of the details concerning the new stuff in RA2 has been released. Some haven’t. To this extent I have compiled a list of features I believe would make Red Alert 2 a truly excellent strategy game.

FORMATIONS

Formations, Formations, Formations. This is one feature that is extremely useful in strategy games, the ability to group vehicles and infantry into different defensive and attack formations. In all the other C&C games there were no unit formations. Whenever, you wanted to group units into a specific pattern you had to move every unit around until you go it right. This was complicated because the units moved in TD clustered together into a tightly packed wad and units in RA spread apart in no particular sort of order. Wouldn’t it be great if you could just select the units you wanted and assign a formation (line, column, X, etc.) to them and you be done. This is what I hope is in RA2. This would make setting up attacks and defensive lines much easier.

UNLIMITED UNIT QUEUING

Remember those wonderful times while playing TS that you were building a large unit force and you could only que up five units. And what about in RA and TD where you could que up NO units. That can be especially annoying because you keep having to constantly click on the build buttons which takes you away from playing the game. Why can’t we just cue up the total number of units we want and then let them build. This would be a great feature in Red Alert 2. It would allow you to spend less time on the build sidebar and more time where your attention really belongs, the gameplay.

INFANTRY FOXHOLES AND TRENCHES

What were two of the most important elements in all of the huge infantry battles fought in the 20th century? Foxholes and trenches of course. Both were used to provide cover for troops using them, allowing them to eliminate the enemy more effectively. I think these two elements should be brought into RA2. Infantry in these would have better protection and increased fire-power, like when you bunker soldiers into civilian structures. I know that the foxholes have been partially brought into RA2 with the Allied GI who will set up a sandbag barrier around himself and deploy his gun when standing idle, creating a foxhole of sorts. But it would be nice if all infantry could dig and use foxholes and trenches. This would add a lot of strategy to RA2. When you’re about to attack an enemy base you need to take into account the foxholes and trenches scattered around the base. Also, there could be large trench battles that take place between enemy bases. Oh, the possibilities.

THE BY-PRODUCTS OF BATTLE – SMOKE AND DUST

And lots of it. During a large battle where tracers are stitching the ground, tank shells are flying, grenades are touching down everywhere, and burning structures and vehicles can be seen in every direction do you think the battlefield will be completely devoid of smoke and dust? Heck no! There will be an enormous amount of smoke and on the battlefield. Wouldn’t this is have an effect on the battlefield? Of course. Visibility will be be down, therefore accuracy of weapons fire will decrease. This could be applied to RA2. When the battle gets intense it gets harder for both your units and the enemy units to see each other so weapon accuracy decreases. This would also have strategic applications. Suppose you’re fighting a battle that’s a lost cause. The enemy has the upper hand and you need to retreat. Here smoke becomes useful. You set off smoke bombs so the enemy can’t see you, then you make a run for it. So the smoke covers your retreat and your casualty list doesn’t get any longer.

MISSION REINFORCEMENT OPTIONS

In the .MIX files for TS a drop ship load out screen was found. This was originally to allow players of TS to choose the reinforcements they would get in various points of the upcoming mission. This feature was eventually scrapped for TS, but what if it made a comeback in RA2? Think about it. Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to choose what reinforcements you got in the mission? At the beginning of a mission you could have a specific amount of money and several units to choose from. Then later in the mission you could call in the reinforcements you choose, and they would come in via water transport, airship, etc. This would give you even more control as commander, not to mention being a very cool feature. And for those who don’t don’t want to choose their units it could be something you could turn on and off in the gameplay options menu.

MORE CAMPAIGN BRANCHING WITH MULTIPLE ENDINGS FOR EACH SIDE

In every C&C game so far (excluding SS & all the C&C expansion packs) there has been mission branching for each campaign and two ways the game could end, one for each side.* This was good because it allowed the players to choose what missions they wanted to play. However, the mission branching always ended and there was one end mission for each side. Wouldn’t it add to the longevity of RA2 if the missions once they started branching they continued branching? Culminating with not one, but two or three “finale” missions, each with a different ending to the game? I think that would add a lot to the story and longevity of the game. There would not only be one or two more end missions, but there would be more missions overall because there would be other missions leading up to the multiple “finale” missions. With this you would choose which way the conflict turned out by which missions you played.

A STORYLINE THAT TIES IN WITH TIBERIAN DAWN

As we have seen from the information released to us by Westwood, the storyline of Red Alert 2 will tie in directly with the original Red Alert. But what about Tiberian Dawn? Will the storyline of RA2 tie in with TD and the rest of the C&C universe? There has been some speculation about whether or not Westwood would make Red Alert its own series. I personally hope Westwood ties RA2 in with TD, which will tie it in with TS. I mean, the original Red Alert’s storyline tied in nicely with TD, I.E. Kane and the references to NOD in the last Soviet video. Also, many , probably most, C&C fans have come to think of the original Red Alert as a prequel not its own series. So it would be in Westwood’s interests to make RA2 a prequel also, not the Red Alert series. We can only wait and hope.

MORE MULTIPLAYER OPTIONS

In the C&C games made so far there have been limited options available for people wanting to play a multiplayer game over a modem or network connection. The options available to the player were: player vs. player deathmatch, allied players vs. computer deathmatch, and, on TD & RA, capture the flag (which I never figured out). I admit, standard deathmatches are fun, but after so many hundreds of games, the deathmatch gets a little boring, and the player is left looking for something new. That’s why RA2 should expand the amount of multiplayer options available to the player. Game options like team deathmatches, territorial control, and scenarios would be a big addition to Red Alert 2. For Territorial Control you could have control stations scattered throughout the map, and the objective is to capture and secure as many checkpoints as possible in a specific amount of time. Scenarios for RA2 could have objectives like in single-player missions. Such as one player’s objective could be to secure a civilian town or evacuate supply trucks from a base under siege. The other player’s objective could be to stop the other player or grab the enemy’s prize for himself. There would be a nearly limitless amount of possibilities for scenarios. These options could extend the longetivity and gameplay of Red Alert 2 a long way.

A MAP EDITOR

One of the reasons the original Red Alert was such a popular game was because players could make their own multiplayer maps to play on. The map editor was easy to use and gave the player the ability to create as many unique maps as he wanted. This became one of the most popular features of the original Red Alert. If Red Alert 2 came with a map making utility it would extend the gameplay and longevity of RA2 a very, very long way.

As you can see there are many different options Red Alert 2 could include. Whatever new features it has, I’m sure it will be THE GAME OF THE YEAR (along with Renegade of course!). We’ll just have to wait and see.

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