Review: EA's Command & Conquer: Red Alert for iPad

Command and Conquer is a Real Time Strategy (RTS) game optimized for the iPad. This was one first games offered when the iPad was released. The main game and subsequent expansion packs from the iPhone version have been included. You can play as one of three factions: Soviet/ Russian, Allied/U.S. or Rising Sun/ Japanese.

It seems the game developers are big time feminists and feel that, in the military, attractive women should be giving the orders. There is no shortage of hot babes telling you what to do. The skeptical side of me feels like they were just looking for the "Hooters effect", a way to lure poor innocent and lonely gamers. Admittedly, I've never served in the military, but I was surprised that the uniforms displayed so much cleavage.

You have to love the fact that EA decided to bring the Soviets, the international bad guys pretty much every 80's action movie was based on, back to power and prominence. I missed them. You pretend you are trying to bring down the evil empire of dreaded socialism (although you do play as them sometime which makes you feel like traitor). As I was playing I was having regular flashbacks of the great 80's film Red Dawn.

Nuts & Bolts

The game offers campaign, skirmish or multiplayer modes. The game can only be played in landscape view. The app will cost you $12.99. Hey, when this much cleavage is involved, you aren't getting off cheap.

RTS gaming veterans will catch on to the controls relatively quickly. The rest of us might find them more confusing. Fortunately, there is a very nice tutorial which is part of the first mission if you select the Soviet faction. Don't get cute and play as the Allied faction in your first go around like your author did. You will figure out about 80% of the controls but will generally be lost. You need to master the more intricate controls and menu options to play the game successfully, and the controls can get frustrating at times. I don't want to hear any criticism from the fans of the genre. It can get boring and repetitive.

You have to construct pretty much everything you use in the game. Your tanks, factories, etc. On a more controversial note, you "train" human soldiers and attack animals. You build a barracks and they appear out of thin air. If this offends you because it is too close to playing "God", then this might not be the game for you. On the other hand, you might find that creating life and then sending the beings off to certain death is pretty freaking awesome.

The game looks great on the iPad. The big touch screen seems perfect for dragging troops and exploring maps. Not surprisingly, the iPad handles the game smoothly. After all, this is a glorified iPhone game. Pinch and zoom also is a really nice function to have on a game like this. Unfortunately, the maps and backgrounds do not change that much as you advance in the game, which seems a little lazy on EA's part.

There is quite a bit of game play available. Each faction has 5 missions available. There are also additional missions that are available in the skirmish mode. Additionally, there is a "kinda-sorta" multiplayer mode. If you know people who own an iPad, are willing to shell out the cash for the game, and they are in the same room you -- you can play a multiple player game. Again, everyone has to purchase their own game.

EA blew an opportunity here. For $12.99, I think they should have made a multiplayer server available so you could play strangers all over the country, just like we've seen in the PSP's Star Wars Battlefront. This would have made the $12.99 price tag more palatable. The game play on multiplayer would be more fun and the challenge of playing others whenever you want would certainly override the repetitive gameplay. Not to mention EA could given lonely gamers out there a way to meet people. Who knows, maybe you'll find your next super hot girlfriend while playing a mulitplayer RTS on the iPad. Alright, you're probably better off going to a grocery store or a bar for that.

I will say that the game is quite challenging. You actually need to use some strategy, as opposed to just creating a large group of forces and fighting your way through. Still, I can't help but think the game could be better. It isn't much different than its iPhone brethren. Remember how people said that the iPad was an iTouch on steroids before it was released? Well, it seems like EA took that to heart. The iPad version of C&C is the iPhone version of the game, but on steroids. Nothing really new or innovative here.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • RTS game format seems perfect for the iPad
  • Game looks great without any lag
  • RTS loyalists should love it and the potential this game shows for the genre
  • Attractive women aggressively giving you orders (if you're into that kind of thing)

Cons

  • Not much innovation when compared to the iPhone version
  • Multiplayer mode pretty much sucks when it could have been great
  • $12.99 is too much for this game except for the hardcore fans of the genre

Conclusion

This game and its price point are designed for those who love the RTS genre. Regular gamers who like to taste the fruit of the RTS genre occasionally might be disappointed with the fun factor and lack of innovation of EA's Command & Conquer: Read Alert, especially considering the price. Frankly, I don't think experience justifies the expense except for big time fans of the RTS genre.

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