|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA Los Angeles||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 12, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-24||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Long on Tedium
by Derek Hidey
When EA set out to craft Red Alert 3, they did so with the intention of creating the most over-the-top RTS ever, and they were successful. Something about iconic actors appearing to deliver cheesy dialogue in live-action cutscenes made for some entertaining storytelling. The gameplay maintained the fast-paced atmosphere created in Red Alert 2, and, for the most part, fans of the series were content. Fast-forward to almost a year later and EA has released the first stand-alone expansion pack, Uprising.
Gamers will find the core gameplay elements remain unchanged, which is both good and bad. What was changed, however, probably won't garner the same support. Uprising's campaign focuses on forcing players to manage small squads of units. And, while gameplay similar to this can be done well, such as in Dawn of War II, Uprising doesn't provide any additional elements to make this intimate control interesting. Instead, you'll be hard-pressed to discover the very specific strategies you need to execute to get past the scripted A.I. Essentially, players will find themselves hitting the restart button and saying, "Okay, what if I do this?" Of course, those more familiar with the original Red Alert 3 will have an advantage in this regard, but they'll find the limited choice in strategy a bit too restrictive.
As with most expansion packs, the mini-campaigns are relatively short. A few hours should see most players through all three factions' plots. But, it isn't the shortness of the campaigns that make them hard to consider playing through, it's the repetition. All three factions, while having a number of new units to play around with, play very similar to each other, so while the look changes, the feel stays mostly the same. Moreover, the lack of cooperative play as an option completely debunks what made Red Alert 3's campaign interesting and replayable.
The additional entourage of actors and actresses do a good job of maintaining the Red Alert status quo, but the only performance that is really tip-of-the-hat worthy comes from Malcolm McDowell, who gives the impression he is reprising his role as President Eden from Fallout 3. The rest of the cast does an okay job keeping with the program. Consequently, fans will find the cutscenes are as corny as ever.
While the mini-campaigns don't leave much to be desired, EA has thrown in an additional dungeon-crawler style mini-campaign in which players take control of a single hero unit named Yuriko. While it is fun to plow through hordes of enemy troops using psychic abilities, this particular mode doesn't do anything special. It is another attempt to find some common ground between action and real-time strategy, but there just isn't enough there to satisfy fans of either genre.
Another new mode in Uprising is the Commander's Challenge, which pits players against nine other commanders through 50 missions. As each mission is completed by the player, he or she is granted additional units. While this is another deviation from the standard gameplay elements offered in Red Alert 3, this new mode, in comparison to the others, is definitely the most satisfying way to play Uprising. Unfortunately, because it makes up such a small part of the entire package, it makes it difficult to justify the rest.