Diehard GameFAN Hall of Fame Nomination: Command and Conquer: Red Alert

Every week, we will present a new game to be nominated for the Diehard GameFAN Hall of Fame and Hall of Shame. These nominations will occur every Monday and Friday, respectively. Our standards are just like the Baseball Hall of Fame: every game will be voted on by members of the staff, and any game that gets 75% of the vote – with a minimum of four votes – will be accepted – or thrown – into their respective Hall.

Game: Command and Conquer: Red Alert
Developer:Westwood Studios
Publisher:Virgin Interactive
Release Date:10/31/1996
System Released On:PC
Genre:Real Time Strategy

Who Nominated The Game: The resident wargame fanboy, Me.

Why Was It Nominated: I already mentioned that Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? was the title that got me into PC gaming, but that was more due to the massive popularity of the Carmen Sandiego game show and cartoon rather than any real interest in the PC as a gaming platform. I then returned to good old Mario on the SNES. Then as a child I happened upon the mythical locales known as “LAN Centres” where everyone was playing Command and Conquer: Red Alert. I sucked too much to play skirmish LAN games (And I still suck at RTS multiplayer to this very day!), so I dove into the single player and my young 16-bit eyes were opened to the ultimate truth of gaming: PCs are the master race of gaming and consoles are simply the dirty peasants (Okay, maybe that’s a little extreme since I love consoles as well).

I had never played anything so epic in my life. I wasn’t a hero, I was a commander ordering around huge amounts of soldiers,tanks and ships in real time to crush my enemy in a weird sort of Sci-fi version of WWII (Tesla coils? Chronospheres? AWESOME!). The use of real live actors for the cutscenes was a revelation for me at the time (I didn’t know till later that it was already done in the first Command and Conquer ) when the most I got from cut scenes were short static 2D images and I bet I’m not the only one who has fond memories of getting orders from Stalin and teaming up with Tanya.

Compared to most other RTS games at the time (most notably Blizzard’s Warcraft II) which had two sides that were very similar to each other with only a few differences, the sides in Red Alert had vastly different weapons and strategies with the Soviets controlling the ground with their powerful tanks (Tank rushes bring fond memories) while the Allies controlled the Sea with Cruisers and Destroyers (If there wasn’t a lot of water in a stage, you were kind of screwed as Allies). This would set the precedent for all RTS games that followed: Gamers were spoiled and wouldn’t accept cookie cutter armies any more and every RTS game that followed would have distinct opposing factions (Starcraft being the most famous at this).

This was all wrapped in a brilliant rock soundtrack by resident Westwood composer, Frank Klepacki. It was the Command and Conquer series that would bring Klepacki widespread acclaim in the industry and he won several awards for best soundtrack that year from PC gaming publications (With Hell March being the most recognizable track in the game) and he’s still with the rest of the Westwood staff at Petroglyph Studios till this day (though the 1995 edition of the Original Command and Conquer is still my favorite soundtrack).

Given the legacy that Westwood Studios left behind, it’s kind of sad to see what’s happened with the C&C franchise in recent years, but that’s all the more reason to honour the original classics.

All in Favour:
Mohammad Al-Sadoon: I think I summed up my feelings quite well in the introduction so I’d like to go deeper into why I’m so devastated of the demise of the C&C franchise. It really boils down to one thing: The control scheme.

When EA went with a more Starcraft or Age of Empires route with Command and Conquer: Generals, many gamers (myself included) were dismayed. Don’t get me wrong, Generals was a fine game but it wasn’t a fine C&C game. The system used by all Command and Conquer games was so elegant. Worker units ONLY collected one resource and did nothing else and selecting buildings didn’t provide upgrades or unit build option, the buildings themselves were the tech tree and all units were recuirted from the sidebar where all available buildings were also constructed. When a building finished construction you placed it on the map and it unfolded itself like an origami flower or some shit.

But now, the RTS industry is plagued by the clunkiness that Blizzard and Ensemble released upon the world where endless micromanagement is the name of the game. They may as well be called “Vespian Gas Tycoon” games rather than wargames.

I hope you are happy EA and Blizzard fans, you ruined RTS games for me. Thank GOD that Relic and Massive Entertainment still make awesome RTS games.

All Opposed:

Mark Crouse:Outside of Doom I & Duke Nukem 3D, I don’t think there was a Computer Game I played more in the 90s than Red Alert. My father bought it for himself as he was into “war” games when I was a kid, but I doubt that he spent nearly a tenth of the time I spent with the game. It was the first game I bought an expansion pack for and the first that I attempted to make my own maps for.

I loved the game in many aspects, the soundtrack was amazing (I use to put Hell March on while I was chatting it up on AOL), the game play was fluid and the defensive/offensive units you could create were excellent. It was always fun to setup a row of Tesla Coils behind a row of Pillboxes outside of your base and watch the computer (or friend) attack.

I didn’t spend too much time with the single player, but from what I remember playing, I wasn’t too impressed. That could have been for various reasons though, including my impatience and addiction to skirmish mode.

Mark B.Mark B.: I’ve never been a huge fan of the Command and Conquer series, but I easily can say that Red Alert is pretty much the best game in the series. The concept was damn cool, between the alternate World War II initiated because of Einstein trying to prevent the ORIGINAL World War II and the fact that the whole thing basically played directly into the original series in some interesting ways, and the game was fun enough. I enjoyed the dynamic between the two factions and the little bits of historical changes that popped up here and there, the game plays fine enough, and Tesla Coils are awesome for a lot of different reasons.

So why am I voting against it? Well, the thing is that, as noted, I’m not a huge Command and Conquer fan. This is not to say that I don’t appreciate what the series has done or the games in general, but it IS to say that inevitably, I’m going to look at something like Red Alert and say, “What makes this better than Starcraft?” (Yes, I’m one of those people) and not come up with anything substantial. I never got into playing the game online and the offline play didn’t especially leave me with the same impression that, say, Dune 2000 or Starcraft did. I remember those games fondly and actively enjoyed the time I spent with them on a level where I’ll boot them up every now and again to fool around with them, while I haven’t had a copy of Red Alert available to me in years and I’ve not really thought about it at all. As such, I don’t feel like the game really merits a positive vote from me in that regard.

Red Alert was the first RTS I played and loved. But unfortunately this game did not stand the test of time for myself. After the winter break of ’98 where my friend I played this game everyday for at least 6 hours, I barely played it. I only remembered my love for this game because I saw that someone nominated it for the HoF. Red Alert was a great game for me, but it doesn’t immediately come to mind when I think about RTS games.

Michael O’Reilly: Red Alert was the first Command and Conquer game that I enjoyed, and it posed an interesting question with its plot, but the game play was clunky and subpar to the masters at Blizzard. I know that’s a heretical thing to say for all you Commie loving Red Alert lovers, but yes I fall on that side of RTS divide, and Red Alert just fails to do it for me.

Result: 1 In Favour, 3 Opposed, 25% Approval = REJECTED

Conclusion: Unfortunately for us C&C, the scions of Blizzard have won the day here with their love of Vespene Gas and hot Dark Elves. Hopefully, we will see a Hall of Fame worthy Command and Conquer title released during a our lifetimes but with the likes of Red Alert 3 and Command and Conquer 4 sullying the series good name. I fear we never will.

Next Week: We get a previously Japanese only game that is equal parts Giant Mecha, Hot Chicks and Strategy RPG goodness. It’s also written by Bebito, so that should be fun.



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One response to “Diehard GameFAN Hall of Fame Nomination: Command and Conquer: Red Alert”

  1. Samuraiter Avatar

    I do feel that this is the best of the series, and I played this game (and its expansions) to pieces back in the day, moreso than I did with Warcraft II. (I never played Starcraft at all – heresy, I know.) I would vote in favor if I had a vote to cast. :-)

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