Saturday, March 06, 2010

Reminiscing Red Alert 2

Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2 is my most favorite game during those days I cut classes just to play PC games – in which some days I wait for the internet café to open at 8:00am and play PC games until 9:00pm, without any lunch break or snacks (I would get bronchopneumonia that would ultimately worsen to tuberculosis primary complex because of this practice).  I enjoyed the wackiness of the game, realistic units and scenarios mixed with out-of-this-world units and scenarios.  Actors playing cut scenes and briefs.  Mind controls.  A hot commando beauty.  Suicide bombers.  Time travel.   Battle on the Moon.  Giant squids and dolphins.  Hollywood actors joining the fray.  Just lots of craziness and fun.    Plus, an actually creative and enjoyable story.

 RA 2’s level of strategy is always a welcome break for me from the more complex strategical gameplay of Starcraft (which requires a high level of strategical thinking, as with Warcraft III and Stronghold, two other games I also find requires high level of strategical thinking).  I’m not saying you don’t need strategy to win in RA 2, it’s is just that the strategy and unit management required in Starcraft are more complicated.  You also have to be creative in an RA 2 combat, but there is also a good chance you can luck out a win.

Britain’s Sniper   

    Allied’s Great Britain was my early favorite because of the sniper.  Britain had been always the country I was greatly fond of, thus it was the country I chose in my first RA 2 game.  I was against an AI Cuba (Easy mode of course).  I had scattered my snipers, dramatically putting them beside trees (as if they can be perfectly invisible), some few inches (in my computer screen’s perspective) apart.  The snipers easily took out any advancement of the enemy’s conscripts and terrorists.  I was ecstatic.  From what I remember, I was not able to finish that game since my time was up.  I just spent building defenses and amassing my forces without actually going on offense.
The next game, I was now against a classmate.  I pick Britain.  He picked US.  With small groups of snipers, I easily picked off his idle Tanyas and GIs early on.  I won that game, but the snipers were only a small part of the victory. Later, prism tanks and aircraft carriers won that game for me.

God bless Korea – the power of the Black Eagles!!!  Small blitzkriegs.    

I had always picked Allied whenever I play.  I find them more advantageous back then and seems to be stronger (that’s before I experience the outrageous strength of a flood of Apocalypses… more on that later).  The Allies have Spy Satellite to reveal the map completely, Spies that are effective against computer opponents (worthless against human opponents), Rocketeers to take down the greatest threat of the Soviet which is the Kerov airship (again, before I realized the wrath of Apocalypses), and the collective strength of Prism technology.  So I had alternated between the Allied countries whenever I play.  Then, I started to lean more on France (Grand Canon) and Korea (Black Eagle).  I found my sync with Korea.
Grand Canon is very valuable in defense.  Several of them (I forgot the max) plus prism towers, toss in a few pillboxes to slow down the opposition, makes a base almost impossible to penetrate.  But defense would not win games.   I was more of a “blitzkrieg” guy (the “building up forces before one big attack” philosophy which I do sometimes would take too much time, thus too much money spent for the game.  Small blitz are more effective for me.).  I do small attacks.  Small raids.  I rush early in the game sometimes.  I initiate fast pace games.  I only slow down the tempo when I am a) want to enjoy a long game; b) I have enough money to pay for a long game; and c) I am confident I would win.

But most of the time I have the mentality to make a quick game of it, either from a Grizzly Tank rush (hopefully, would work after the opponent made the mistake of putting his initial free tanks and troops away from the construction yard) or an Engineer rush (the opponent making the mistake of not training an attack dog early).  If not, then I would settle with small raids.  Swarms of Rocketeers, occasional attack of Harriers, small battalions of GIs or tanks (with an IFV with a few engineers in it; an opening might happen for a “capture building, sell” move), etc.  Whatever it takes to harass the opponent; delaying his training and building of units and buildings.  Each raid should at least do small but significant damages that would put the opponent out of his equilibrium (an addition of trash talk to psyche him out would give extra help).  Later on, these small raids had done the collective damage.  Not enough defenders to fend off those Rocketeers or tanks I sent as each one dies I already sent another one to replace it.  Already too delayed and forces too weakened, the continual pouring of Rocketeers/paradrops of GIS/tanks would finish the opponent.    So with this kind of game mentality, the Black Eagle was suited for me.         

And boy how I love what the Black Eagles can do.  Tougher and stronger than Harriers, they can do quick damages with quick coordinated raids.  I usually have numbers 6 to 0 of the keyboard as five squadrons of Black Eagles.  Often, the enemy would just surrender after receiving too much damage (and delay) or his Construction Yard got destroyed from Black Eagles.  Some opponents would concentrate too much on land defenses that air defenses are so weak, thus easily exploited from a swarm of Black Eagles squadrons.  At the start, these raids only consists of 4 or 8 Black Eagles, continuing the air raids as soon as a casualty is replaced and the remaining planes reloaded.  Later, I would have squadrons swarming (as I’ve said “numbers 6 to 0 of the keyboard”) the enemy base coming from different directions to evade anti-air units’ damage of the enemy.  If this attack is successful, the Construction Yard and the War Factory or Baracks would simultaneously be destroyed.  Assured victory.  If the enemy is still stubborn to give up, more bombings and a final clean-up by my tanks (usually, at this part of the game will only be the first time the tanks would move from camp; in my “Black Eagle” mentality the tanks are for majority of the game just for defense, and a few for small raids if I saw an opening).    Small maps are an advantage to my Black Eagle strategy since they will have shorter trips – quicker return trips and quicker raids.  Moreover, if there are Superweapons in play, the Black Eagles are doubly invaluable.  The downside in Black Eagles are it is difficult to control them when you have to use them against a mass of enemy land units; picking each plane to target a specific enemy unit.

I owe most of my victories in RA 2 to the Black Eagles.  In fact, if I remember it right I was never defeated when I chose Korea in RA 2 (but I have one loss in Yuri’s Revenge while using Korea… because of one stupid mistake in my part that cost me the game, though it still took an hour after that mistake until I was fully defeated).  

As I’ve said I preferred the Allied technology over the Soviet and pick Korea for the Black Eagles to win quick games.  Usually, there are more chances of me getting defeated when the game lasts for more than an hour.  The “blitzing” strategy works for me.  Lightning war.  Constant raids.  Just like constant attacks of Lightning Storms made by the Weather Machine.

Could it be the Reds actually have the advantage?  Isn’t the game called “Red” Alert?

 I had always thought that the Allies are more advantageous in short games, and that the Soviet are more advantageous in late games.  But according to Wikipedia: “In general, the Soviet faction is superior in the early game and in land wars because of their very powerful and advanced tanks, while the Allied faction is better in the late game with more advanced units, in naval warfare. In particular, the Soviets are better for early game rushes, which are very common in online games.  The Allies tend to be better at longer games and/or big maps because they are more suited to ‘turtling’ but the Soviets are usually better at shorter games and/or smaller maps because they are more suited to ‘rushing’. While the Soviets are more suited to rushing, the base defenses they have are arguably inferior to Allied ones.”

Hmmm.  Is that so?      Soviet for tank rushes?  There is truth in this. Soviet tanks are tough.  But when a player, using the Allies, effectively builds his defenses early on, any tank attacks can be easily fend off.  I already mentioned that the Allies had stronger defense, and in my experience I used the “turtling” (search the meaning in the Net, if you don’t know) to make the game quick.  The defense is for depleting enemy forces so the enemy starts to weaken and later on wouldn’t be able to fend off effectively my raiding parties, ultimately leading to my victory.  Plus, I had said that smaller maps were to the advantage of my Black Eagle strategy.  And since this strategy works, I often use the Allies (Korea).

And the Soviet are better in long games, as I experienced.  How can Allied units stop more than a hundred Apocalypse tanks backed with hundreds of Terrordrones?  Plus, tens and tens of Kerovs, with more than a hundred Flak Trucks closely near them to defend the Kerovs from racketeers?  Even if the Allies has also more than a hundred Prism Tanks (though it would insure victory if you ever reach the enemy’s base since Prism Tanks are very effective against buildings, but you have to pass the Apocalypses and Terrordrones first) and Mirage Tanks and IFVs, the Soviet’s toughness would win.  Hundreds of units I say?  It is not at all impossible in Red Alert 2, as long as you have the resources.  There is a technique that would allow you to build units and structures real quick.  No, it is not a cheat.  I only learned this in high school when a friend and I saw someone doing this technique.  Of course, I would not reveal the secret here.  But believe me, hundreds and hundreds of units is possible in a long RA 2 game.

So with this new revelation, I started to appreciate the great advantage of the Soviet – the Apocalypse.  In long games, the Apocalypse is unstoppable.

That’s why when we played later on, we always prefer the Unholy Alliance.  Thus, we both have Soviet and Allied advantages.  Build hundreds of units before finally battling it off.  Such games took hours, with no clear winners.

Yuri’s Revenge
   The gameplay gets more complicated in the expansion pack.  Yuri is outrageously powerful.  The Allied finally have the Battle Fortress to make the Soviet’s Apocalypse puny.  Guardian GIs are great upgrades that you can now do with just a few Rocketeers.  Soviet has Boris to the Allied’s Tanya. 
 I had two losses to a friend in Yuri’s Revenge.  This friend I had once beaten three times with my “blietzkrieg” strategy (Rocketeers swarm, Black Eagles raid, and a Conscript counter-attack after his unsuccessful Rhino Tank rush) in 20 minutes.  The first loss with him was my first loss while using Korea.  Indeed, I was cocky on that first loss.  I made a long game out of it, instead of striking fast as I usually do.  I was confident I would win.  But I made the mistake of pressing the T button twice.  He dropped some Paradrops of Initiates (he was Yuri) in a blind spot (no defense) of my base.  I intended to press T – to select across screen – on my IFVs.  But I pressed it twice and all IFVs in the map was selected, as I moved them to meet the dropping Initiates.  It left my Construction Yard and War Factory open for his Yuri Prime to control them and sell them.  Thus, I was left with no tank units.  I was left with building troops and Black Eagle raids.  I was still able to “turtle” for more than an hour before being defeated by those Yuri flying saucer units.  Yuri is just too tough.   I won the next game we played, with the same choice of nations, he was Yuri and I was Korea.  This time, I used my “blitzkrieg” strategy to make him surrender.  (Some few games later he would beat me again… with Apocalypses.)

Red Alert 3

Finally, this new game came up to continue the Command & Conquer: Red Alert franchise.  I want to play it, but I had not yet seen it in this parts (Internet cafes here stopped installing new games and just settle with DOTA).   I’ve read the reviews and saw some videos.  Japan’s units – samurais with lightsabers, transforming vehicles, and mecha – are so cool.  Moreover, more cute girls in this game.  It would be nice if I could get the chance to play RA 3.  With the fun I derived from RA 2, RA 3 would probably extend the enjoyment more.  RA is not the most complicated or most challenging game I had played, but it was a favorite because of the level of fun it can give.

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