Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
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Command and Conquer: Red Alert is the latest blockbuster game to be ported to the App Store, landing in the somewhat lacking RTS genre. But does it transfer well?
One of the best parts about Red Alert is the great story line that is likely familiar to many. The game is set in an alternate reality in which Einstein has invented a time machine and gone back in time to kill Hitler, thus preventing the rise of Nazi Germany. However, without the Nazis to keep them in check, the Soviets begin taking over the entire continent and escalating a huge war between Soviets and Allies. The implementation of the story into the game is sub-par, however. Cut-scenes are noticeably absent and the dialogue in campaign mode hardly advances the story. As for the gameplay, Red Alert is a classic RTS through and through. There is construction of buildings such as factories and radars, all of which you can place anywhere, and construction of units, which vary depending on which faction you're playing with and can be moved individually or in a group. The goal of the game is to strategically build up units and resources and infiltrate the opponent's headquarters. Unfortunately, there aren't as many elements as say, the PC version, and there are a limited number of units and special abilities. I fear this game will fall in between being a casual RTS like Robocalypse and something that hardcore players crave. That's not to say that it's not a fun game, but will likely be either too easy or too frustrating for the majority of players.
When it comes to content, $9.99 doesn't get you a lot. There are five campaign levels for each faction (Allied or Soviet) and two skirmish maps. Tragically, there is no semblance of online multiplayer. There is one DLC expansion pack in the initial release that gives you six skirmish maps for $.99, essentially half the content of the main game for 1/10 of the price.
The controls work surprisingly well. Building units and the like is handled through touch-enabled menus, and moving is as easy as selecting a unit and then tapping a spot. To select multiple units, you touch the box icon and then drag a box around your desired units. I had doubts about this system, but it works surprisingly well. You can additionally zoom in and out using the standard iPhone pinch gestures. The interface is a bit overly-bulky, as it is situated on either side of the screen, though it gets the job done.
The graphics are high quality and fully 3D, and though they are blocky in some places, overall they're pretty impressive. I do have a bone to pick with the animations however. First, they are frequently choppy. In addition, the movement of units' legs is oddly disjointed and makes it look like you are moving action figures around. Be warned that the app crashes regularly, though progressive saving somewhat alleviates this. The music is great, as is to be expected, and the voice acting is pretty good.
If you were to strip the "Command and Conquer" label off of this game, it'd just be a good, but excessively priced RTS. I'd still recommend it to fans of the genre, but be wary. There are only a few games that earn their $9.99 price tag, and Red Alert is not one of them.