Command & Conquer: Red Alert

Command & Conquer: Red Alert
Command & Conquer: Red Alert
Cover art (Windows 95 version)
Developer(s) Westwood Studios
Publisher(s) Virgin Interactive
Sony Computer Entertainment (PSN)
Composer(s) Frank Klepacki
Series Command & Conquer
Version 3.03 (Win)
2.00 (DOS)
Platform(s) MS-DOS, Windows, PlayStation, PlayStation Network[1]
Release date(s) PC
  • NA October 31, 1996
  • EU 1996
  • NA October 31, 1997
  • EU November, 1997
PlayStation Network
  • PAL March 27, 2008
  • NA November 12, 2009
Genre(s) Real-time strategy
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer
Media/distribution 2x CD-ROM, download
System requirements

Windows 95/98, 75 MHz Pentium Processor (120 MHz recommended), 8 MB RAM (32 MB recommended), 4x CD-ROM, 1 MB video card

Command & Conquer: Red Alert is a real-time strategy computer game of the Command & Conquer franchise, produced by Westwood Studios and released by Virgin Interactive in 1996. The second game to bear the "C&C" title, Red Alert is the prequel to the original Command & Conquer of 1995,[2][3][4][5] and takes place in the alternate early history of Command & Conquer when Allied Forces battle an aggressive Soviet Union for control over the European mainland.

It was initially available for PC (MS-DOS & Windows 95 versions included in one package), and was subsequently ported to PlayStation. The PlayStation version was also re-released as a download on the PlayStation Network for PSP and PS3.[1] On August 31, 2008, Electronic Arts who acquired Westwood Studios in 2003 officially rendered Command & Conquer: Red Alert freeware.[6][7]



Red Alert was praised for its user interface, which claimed to be more developed than the competing games of its time. Players could queue commands, create unit groups that could be selected by a number key, and control numerous units at a time. The game was known to be easy to control, simple to learn and responsive to users' commands. It also featured two factions that had differing styles of play. Red Alert is also hailed as one of the first games to feature competitive online play. The single player campaign also received high praise for its detailed story line and missions, which often required the player to defeat the enemy with various sets of circumstances before continuing. Like Tiberian Dawn, the game has split routes for most missions. The objective stays the same but only the map layout differs. The single player campaign was also complemented by live action cinematic sequences that are a feature of all Command & Conquer RTS games since the original, except for Generals when EA Games bought Westwood (the original creator of the Command & Conquer series) and failed to uphold the tradition.

Game balancing

The game balance between the forces of the Allied and Soviet armies differed from other games at its time. Like the 'rock-paper-scissors' balancing of modern games, Red Alert required each player to use their side's strengths in order to compensate for their weaknesses. This stood in contrast to games such as Total Annihilation or Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness, in which both sides had units with similar abilities and relied instead on outnumbering or possessing a better balanced force than their opponent.

Players acquire credits to purchase structures and equipment by mining for ores and minerals (as the valuable, yet hazardous Tiberium in the regular C&C series has not yet been discovered in this timeline). Rare gems generate more credits and are faster to mine, but unlike ores, do not regenerate within the map. Players can gain more credits and increase their buying power by building more ore factories and ore trucks.

The Soviets' vehicles tend to be more durable and powerful than Allied vehicles, but are often slower moving and more expensive. The Soviets also have superior defensive capabilities against both ground attacks (Tesla Coil) and air attacks (Surface to Air Missiles), but are at a disadvantage on the sea. The only offensive naval unit the Soviets have is the submarine, which cannot attack land-based targets or aircraft, so it is useless unless the opponent builds any sea units, and while it is normally invisible except when surfacing to attack, it can be detected by destroyers and gunboats. When heavily damaged, it is not able to submerge. The Soviets' secret weapon is the Iron Curtain, a device that renders a selected unit invulnerable to attacks for a short period of time. In online play and computer skirmish, they have access to two of the Allied side's infantry: the Rocket Soldier and Tanya, a commando capable of easily killing infantry and destroying structures. They also have a wide selection of air units for assault (MiG-27, Yak-7 and Mi-24 Hind) and map revelation through spy planes, and could deploy infantry by air through paratroops or by the Chinook transport helicopter (the latter only present in multiplayer). The Soviet "tank rush" was a popular strategy online, involving building many heavy tanks and overwhelming the opponent with sheer numbers.

In-game beta screenshot of a Soviet base on the PC version.

The Allies' forces are generally cheaper, faster to build and more agile. Their minelayers can destroy enemy armor and their infantry can survive longer with good use of their Medic unit. They are at a disadvantage on land, as the Allies' strongest tank (the Medium Tank) is still weaker than the Soviets' starting tank (the Heavy Tank) and has the same speed. The Allies have only one air unit (AH-64D Apache Longbow) compared to three Soviet units and their defences against a ground assault are much weaker. On the sea, the Allies possess an advantage in naval power thanks to the Cruiser, which has the longest-ranged and most powerful surface-to-surface attack in the game, and the Destroyer, which is capable of adeptly taking on any type of unit type in the game - land, sea or air. The Allies' secret weapon is the Chronosphere, which temporarily relocates a selected unit to another part of the map. They also possess several other tools, such as stealing enemy resources, hiding their own units and structures, or revealing the game map with satellite technology. In online play and computer skirmish, Allied forces have access to the nuclear Missile Silo, an exclusive in the Soviets' single-player mode.

Setting and story

Command & Conquer: Red Alert takes place during an unspecified period in the 1950s of a parallel universe, which was inadvertently created by Albert Einstein as a result of preventing the horrors of World War II.

Starting off in 1946, at the Trinity site in New Mexico, the opening to Red Alert shows Albert Einstein as he is preparing to travel backwards through space and time. After his experimental "Chronosphere" device is activated, he finds himself in Landsberg, Germany, in the year 1924, where he meets a young Adolf Hitler just after the latter's release from Landsberg Prison. Following a brief conversation between the two, Einstein shakes Hitler's hand, and this somehow eliminates Hitler's existence from time and returns Einstein to his point of origin.

With the threat of Nazi Germany having been successfully removed from history, the Soviet Union began to grow increasingly powerful under the rule of Joseph Stalin. Had Adolf Hitler risen to power, Nazi Germany would have emerged as a force standing in the way of Stalin's own ambitions of conquest. Instead, left unweakened, the USSR proceeds by seizing lands from China and then begins invading Eastern Europe, in order to achieve Joseph Stalin's vision of a Soviet Union stretching across the entire Eurasian landmass. In response, the nations of Europe form into the Alliance, and start a grim and desperate guerrilla war against the invading Soviet army. Over the course of the game's story, the Allies and Soviets fight out a devastating conflict for control over the European mainland, in what has become an alternate World War II.

Allied ending

Following the destruction of the Soviet stronghold, an Allied platoon discovers Stalin buried alive in the rubble. Before they begin to remove the debris from the fallen leader, General Stavros stops them. He convinces them that they saw nothing and orders them to leave the premises. Stavros then stuffs a handkerchief down Stalin's mouth before covering his head with a large stone and walking away. This outcome forces Kane - who was using the Soviet Union to get to power - and his Brotherhood underground, leading to the events of the first Command & Conquer. Alternatively, this ending paves the way to the sequel Red Alert 2.

Soviet ending

As the Soviets celebrate their victory in the newly-captured Buckingham Palace, Stalin commends the Commander for a job well done but then cynically says "You will be well taken care of" (implying he will have him/her disposed of), while drinking a cup of tea, only to suddenly realize the tea has been poisoned by Nadia. A disgruntled Nadia proceeds to gun him down as the poison overcomes his body. Following Stalin's death, Nadia tells the Commander that the Soviet Union is now under the rule of the Brotherhood of Nod, who plan to return to the shadows again and re-emerge in the 1990s, leaving the player as the puppet ruler of the USSR, ready to do the Brotherhood's bidding for "the foreseeable future". She is betrayed and shot in the back by Kane, who reveals himself to be the true mastermind.


  • Grand Marshal Günther von Esling, German Army officer, Commander-in-Chief of European forces, and apparent leader of the military governing Europe. Played by Arthur Roberts.
  • General Nikos Stavros, Greek officer, Second-in-Command to General von Esling. Played by Barry Kramer.
  • Tanya Adams, a special ops. Commando. Played by Tanya Brassie.
  • Professor Albert Einstein, German-American physicist. Played by John Milford.
  • General Ben Carville, USA officer. The player's commanding officer in Red Alert: Retaliation. Played by Barry Corbin.
  • Joseph Stalin, General Secretary of the Soviet Union. Played by Eugene Dynarski.
  • Nadia, Chief of the NKVD. Played by Andrea C. Robinson.
  • General Gradenko, Russian commander. Played by Alan Terry.
  • Marshal Georgi Kukov, commander of the Red Army. Played by Craig Cavanah.
  • General Topolov. High ranked Soviet military mastermind and mentor to the player in Red Alert: Retaliation. Played by Alan Charof.
  • Kane, obscure advisor to Joseph Stalin. Played by Joseph D. Kucan.

Connection to the Tiberian games

Kane (standing) advises Joseph Stalin (center), with Nadia (left) and Gradenko (right).

Westwood Studios designed Command & Conquer: Red Alert to be the prequel of Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn,[2][3][4][5] and by proxy of the Tiberian series as a whole.

During the course of the Soviet's campaign, Kane is seen to make infrequent appearances as a mysterious counselor to Joseph Stalin, and the story implies that he has in fact been the instigator of the world war between the USSR and the Allied nations in order to further the long-term goals of the Brotherhood of Nod.[8] Indeed, Nadia, the head of the NKVD, Stalin's mistress and evidently a secretive member of the Brotherhood herself as early as the 1950s, instructs the player to "keep the peace" until Nod would "tire of the USSR in the early 1990s" upon the campaign's successful conclusion.[9] Kane however shoots her without warning, and proclaims to the player that he "[is] the future".[10] Moreover, during the fifth cutscene of the Allied campaign, a news announcer reporting on the Allies' loss of Greece is suddenly heard stating that the United Nations are in the process of bringing about a unique military task force aimed at preventing future globalized conflicts.[11] This task force is heavily implied to have been "Special Operations Group Echo: Black Ops 9" -- the covert and international peace enforcing unit of the United Nations and the precursor of the Global Defense Initiative,[12] one of the two main and iconic factions of the Tiberian series alongside the Brotherhood of Nod.

A much debated theory intended to resolve the apparent timeline error which came to exist between Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn and Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 is to consider Red Alert as the genesis of two parallel storylines. If the Soviet campaign were to be completed in Red Alert, the USSR would emerge as the dominant Eurasian power and Kane and the Brotherhood of Nod would subsequently take control of this new empire. Conversely, if the Allied campaign were to be completed, the Allies would emerge victorious and the timeline would instead lead into the events of Red Alert 2 (though Red Alert 2 completely ignores anything that could connect it to the Tiberium timeline). According to former C&C designer Adam Isgreen, however, Tiberian Dawn in fact follows on the conclusion of Red Alert's Allies campaign,[13] while Red Alert 2 and Yuri's Revenge take place in a second parallel universe, created by a new attempt to alter history in "Tiberian Incursion",[14] the working title of Westwood Studios' cancelled version of Command & Conquer 3.[15] Isgreen also implied that Nikola Tesla may have been responsible for inadvertently having attracted the attention of the Scrin through his experiments, and thus for the arrival of Tiberium on Earth.[16]

The image seen at the conclusion of Red Alert's installation in Windows 95. The quote is taken from George Orwell's novel 1984.

When the Command & Conquer: The First Decade compilation pack was released in February 2006, Electronic Arts adopted the policy of considering the C&C franchise to consist of three distinct universes, with this decision apparently violating the storyline connections between Red Alert and Tiberian Dawn established by Westwood Studios. With the release of Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars in March 2007 however, Electronic Arts published a document wherein an explicit reference to Kane's appearance in Red Alert is made—revealing that GDI's "InOps" intelligence division is in the possession of photos of Kane which were taken by CIA operatives during the 1950s era of Red Alert.[17]

Internet gameplay

Westwood Chat was supported up until 1996, when was the dominant Multiplayer gaming platform. Mplayer handled online multiplayer until 2001 when Gamespy replaced it. It was then eventually replaced by the XWIS community server.


The game's original score was composed by Frank Klepacki and was voted the best video game soundtrack of 1996 by PC Gamer and Gameslice magazines.[18]

Expansion packs

Counterstrike and The Aftermath (1997)

RA1 Counterstrike and Aftermath.PNG

In 1997, two expansion packs for Red Alert were released for the PC, Command & Conquer: Red Alert: Counterstrike, and Command & Conquer: Red Alert: The Aftermath. The expansion packs were designed by Westwood Studios with the "apprenticeship" of Intelligent Games; a London based game developer. Much of the development on multiplayer maps was undertaken by players from the Compuserve Red Alert ladder. New units, missions, maps and music were included in the expansions.

Of particular note with the Counterstrike add-on is the addition of the secret Ant Missions titled "It Came from Red Alert", where the player battles against an army of giant, mutant ants with Allied Forces and Soviet units.

The Aftermath add-on added many new units available in single and multiplayer modes. New Allied units include the Field Mechanic and the Chrono Tank. New Soviet units include the Missile Sub, the Shock Trooper, the M.A.D Tank and the Tesla Tank. In addition, both sides receive the Demolition Truck. The add-on also includes hundreds of new maps as well as a new, significantly larger, map size.

Retaliation (1998)

C&C Red Alert Retaliation.PNG

On August 28, 1998, Westwood Studios released Red Alert Retaliation for the PlayStation, a compilation of the two PC expansion packs, including the secret Ant Missions. It is almost identical to the PlayStation port of the original Red Alert, except it introduced some new units like Tesla Tank, Shock Trooper, Chrono Tank and Mechanic, and included 105 skirmish maps. Gameplay also included an in-game sidebar code called Soylent Green Mode. In this mode all ore fields turn to people/civilians, and ore trucks harvest them with grisly sound effects.

It also included 19 exclusive briefing FMV (full-motion video) clips that were not in any of the PC expansion packs, which had none. All of the videos are shown when the player either starts playing through the operational theatre from the beginning or when all the missions of the theatre are accomplished. In other cases, the briefing text is shown. The FMVs include a general for each side, telling the player the mission objectives; The Allied General Carville later appears in Red Alert 2 while Soviet General Topolov has made no further appearances in the Red Alert series.

The Retaliation videos are available for the PC Red Alert in the Red Alert modification.[19] This modification adds the Retaliation videos to the Counterstrike and Aftermath missions. It requires Red Alert patch v3.03 or Red Alert patch v3.03 TFD (for the Red Alert version of the C&C The First Decade package).

Red Alert Retaliation was released as a download for PSP and PS3 from the PlayStation Network in Europe on December 4, 2008 and in North America on December 3, 2009.[20][21]


  1. ^ a b PSN Update at Three Speech
  2. ^ a b Westwood Studios (1997-10-24). "Westwood Studios Official Command & Conquer: Red Alert FAQ List". Westwood Studios. Retrieved April 23, 2007. 
  3. ^ a b Westwood Studios (1998-10-23). "Official Command & Conquer FAQ v3.0". Retrieved 2007-05-13. 
  4. ^ a b Westwood Studios (1998-10-23). "Official Command & Conquer Gold FAQ v1.3". Retrieved 2007-05-13. 
  5. ^ a b "Kane's Dossier". EA Games, Command and Conquer 3 official website. 2006-10-29. Archived from the original on 2007-01-09. Retrieved January 20, 2007. 
  6. ^ "Download Red Alert for free!". EA Games. Archived from the original on 2008-08-31. Retrieved 2008-08-31. To download the games, remove the part on each link in the site.
  7. ^ Official Command & Conquer Forum post at EA.
  8. ^ Nadia: Well, General -- this temporary chaos in Europe will only help to fuel the Brotherhood's cause. For centuries we have waited to emerge from the shadows and now we will make ourselves known. And Cain went out from the presence of The Lord. And took up residence... in the Land of Nod. (Command & Conquer: Red Alert) Westwood Studios, 1996
  9. ^ Nadia: We estimate that the Brotherhood will... tire of the USSR... in the early 1990s. Until then, you'll keep the peace. (Command & Conquer: Red Alert) Westwood Studios, 1996
  10. ^ Kane: For the foreseeable future... Comrade Chairman, I am the future. (Command & Conquer: Red Alert) Westwood Studios, 1996
  11. ^ Allied newscaster: That, in approving a unique military funding initiative aimed at increasing global Allied support. This proposal calls for the formation of a Global Defense agency, to be temporarily established in an as yet unnamed European capital. (Command & Conquer: Red Alert) Westwood Studios, 1996
  12. ^ Command & Conquer For Windows 95, English manual. Virgin Interactive Entertainment. 1995. 
  13. ^ Adam Isgreen (2006-10-17). "C&C Story". Petroglyph Games. Retrieved 2007-08-23. 
  14. ^ Adam Isgreen (2006-12-18). "C&C Timeline (ii)". Petroglyph Games. Retrieved 2007-08-23. 
  15. ^ Adam Isgreen (2006-12-18). "C&C Timeline (i)". Petroglyph Games. Retrieved 2007-08-23. 
  16. ^ Adam Isgreen (2006-12-21). "C&C Timeline (iii)". Petroglyph Games. Retrieved 2007-08-23. 
  17. ^ "Kane's Dossier". EA Games, Command and Conquer 3 official website. 2006-10-29. Retrieved January 20, 2007. 
  18. ^ Frank Klepacki. "COMMENTARY: Behind the Red Alert Soundtrack". [1]. Retrieved July 27, 2006. 
  19. ^ Red Alert: The Lost Files
  20. ^ "Command & Conquer: Red Alert Retaliation". GameSpy. Retrieved 2010-08-25. 
  21. ^ "The PSN Update!!!". ThreeSpeech. 2008-12-04. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 

External links

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