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Who would ever taught of playing Red Alert on a classic Commodore Amiga? Westwood’s alternate history RTS presented unparalleled strategy that perfectly married currently-applicable RTS interface conventions with diverse units to create some utterly compelling gameplay. When taken online or played over LAN, Red Alert simply excelled. Broken alliances and heedless harvester rushes still bring tears to our eyes. It didn’t start the genre, but it probably started the craze. Although still set in the future, the game is set on an Earth where time travel has eliminated Hitler from history and the Second World War never happened. As a result the Western Allies are left facing a powerful USSR with both sides equipped with futuristic technology. The design and functionality of these units is arguably the best ever in a real-time strategy game, and certainly the best since the aforementioned Dune II. The variety of forces and structures is unmatched, providing players with an almost unlimited palette with which to paint their strategic strokes (the only flawed unit is the Soviet sub, which inexplicably will not attack ships that come within its weapons’ range). Better yet, the units of the two opposing sides aren’t mere copies of each other, but instead maintain a sort of karmic balance. For example, the Allies’ aptly-named Destroyer, which can relentlessly attack land, sea, and air units from long distances, is countered by the Soviet MiG, which packs a powerful punch and is absolutely devastating in numbers. The Allies’ Medic, who can literally restore life to the barely breathing foot units, is eerily matched by the Soviet’s brutal Attack Dogs, calamitous canines that can wipe out a half dozen troops in matter of seconds. This not-the-same-but-somehow-related unit design permeates the game, and gives Red Alert a level of depth and complexity that will keep players occupied for months on end.

The true bread and butter of any RTS game, how it handles in live gameplay will make it or break it. Red Alert is fast, fluid, easy to learn, but with many nuances and layered complexity for experts to master. Like GDI and Nod before them (or after them, technically), the Allies and Soviets are not evenly matched in all areas of combat. The Allied ground vehicles are weaker than their Soviet counterparts, but are faster and cheaper to build. The Allies have virtually no air force, and their base defenses are not nearly as devastating as those of the Soviets, but they have a far superior navy, and have more crafty and sneaky units and powers to use for turning the tables on their enemy. Though both factions are easy enough to use for one of the tried and true strategies, tank rushing, they still have enough significant differences to cater to many different playstyles and strategies. Graphics are a difficult thing to judge in older games, because they are the one aspect that tends to age the most quickly, and the most poorly. So in order to accurately judge them, you have to take into account how good they were for their time, and relative to other peer games. Red Alert’s graphics are just right for what they need to accomplish. All of the buildings and units are visually distinctive, the environments are well rendered, and the combat effects are well executed. However, all of that said, nothing about this game, visually, goes above and beyond what you might have expected from a game in 1996, especially with the leaps and bounds that were starting to be made with 3D rendering. Hence, this RTS legend can be played on your Commodore Amiga classic using the OpenRedalert release! Don’t try this game with a standard Amiga 1200 either offcourse, a 040 is highly recommended. To play this game you need the data (.mix) files from the original Westwood Red Alert 1 game. Good luck commander!

More news: Generation Amiga magazine