Red Alert 3, itself
The first of, perhaps, many assorted first impressions of a recent release.

This is scattered and disjointed, but I might be making some kind of thematic point about the game. Or not. Who knows. Jello.

Command and Conquer Red Alert 3 vague voodoo review. I'm on stage 7. There's no such thing as spoilers--so flee for your very lives if you disagree.

Tim Curry does exactly what I want in playing a hammy role with the delicate delivery that removes any cringing. He goes down smooth. The acting, in general, is done by people who know what they're doing, and aren't beating a dead horse out of a perverse combination of disinterest and probable incompetence (Kane). I can't accurately report on the performances of the only woman I've thus far seen because there's an unzipped leather vest in frame that makes it impossible to hear anything she says. It's breast if you listen to her advice, since she has mammary good suggestions about how the mission will go, but, ultimately, tits an exercise in futility. Though I think there's a Meloncholy to her performance.

The over the top CnC staples are hit or miss with me, normally, but the first satellite beam they give you is designed to lift, hold, and separate various ground units from the earth, which looks good and adds nipple. It's magnetic, and you just need to watch the enemy slowly rise as they breath. In ... out...

Excuse me.

The intro movie captures a fundamental concept about the japanese which tells me that the game developers are deeply conscientious students of culture. A boat turns into a tank. A helicopter turns into a mech, and a submarine turns into a fighter plane. This is the essence of the japanese urge to, via science and engineering, turn everything into a toy. If you've ever had a rice cooker that played music when it was ready, or an alarm clock that talked to you, and walked around on the nightstand dancing and hitting drums, then you know the fascinating clockwork world those gremlins inhabit. The fact that CnC captures that perversion is great.

The actual game part is pretty and that's about all you can say. It's not hard to get your units somewhere on the map--most of them are amphibious, but it's hard to get the right unit built ahead of time to anticipate whatever it is you'll be up against. Which is precisely the sort of game that I can't stand. I'll play through the campaign, for sure, but I doubt I'll stick with it. Rock paper scissors, which in this case is infantry, vehicle, aircraft, and building.

The toy thing comes back in most aspects of the game. Units are big, and they usually have a special ability that is dramatic--either in the way it alters the units behavior and usage, or just in the pretty explosions sense.

But, like toys, they fall to the GI Joe vehicle syndrome, where it's so detailed and interesting that it loses a sense of identity and clarity of purpose. A normal tank is boring. In order to capture a strong visual motif you have to work with that boredom to emphasize some aspect of whatever you're representing. With the japanese units, for the most part, this comes through well. They look like bugs, or samurai, and that works. With the Russian units, it's a little sketchy. On the one hand you have strong pieces like the powerplants that glow with chernobyllian fire, or the warbears who literally step out of a circus cage the first time you see them, but on the other you have tesla boats which look like some kind of ultra modern cross between a jet ski, a flying saucer, and a cylon. Which, don't get me wrong, is neat, but it doesn't scream USSR to me. The Tesla *troopers* do, just not the boats. Then there's the allies/americans, and aside from the dolphins, there's no metaphor going on other than sim city meets transformers.

There's red white and blue jelly beans on the american president's desk. I liked that touch.

It's nice looking, but artistically uneven. Deadspace or Bioshock were far more consistent--though obviously vastly different in tone. The acting and story parts are the best part of the game, since they skirt the stereotypes of internecine conflict, and condescension in favor of more genuine character motivations. You don't have to get the sense that you are the center of the universe, or that you're working for someone who is an arch evil doer, or that there is an obvious 'Kill him, and take his place at my side' motivation being hammered into you. The characters start out skeptical of you, then grow more impressed as you succeed, and weave threads of genuine concern and disagreement through the plot. It really helps to motivate the next scenario completion when these cutscenes are waiting for you. Full round bosoms not withstanding.

This is enough for me to enjoy a game. Pretty toys bookending entertaining traditional multimedia is all I ask for unless I'm asking for far more (which I occasionally do--achtung anticipation). If you're someone who wants the game part to be amazing, you may not like it. On the other hand, if you're a fan of Age of Empires baseball, and don't like ambiguity in your RTSes--preferring to build unit A to kill unit B and micromanaging, then this'll be your cup of tea.

Co op looks intriguing, but even solo, the fact that you can direct your CPU partner to take objectives or handle defense helps to take the edge off the most annoying facet of these types of RTS. For the purposes of getting through the campaign, it's a nice feature.

I'm logging back into WoW, now.

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