iTuesday Review: Command and Conquer: Red Alert for iPad

One of my favorite PC games ever is Command and Conquer: Red Alert. It was a game I spent countless hours playing after school for a couple years straight. For those of you unfamiliar with it, Red Alert is a real time strategy war game. You build up your base, build some tanks, train some soldiers, and go after the enemy. You have ore trucks to collect ore (and minerals) so you can make money and afford to build up your army. The game had a plot to it, but my friends and I never cared about any of that. All we did was play skirmish mode, often online against each other (that is when the dial up internet wasn’t being too lag-y). When I happened to come across Red Alert in the App Store a little part of my childhood came back instantly.

There were two sequels to the original PC game. Since the iPad version bears the same name as the original PC release, and that’s the one I am most familiar with, I will be drawing comparisons between the two, but wont really be comparing the iPad version with either of the sequels.

There are a few things that are missing from the iPad version (vs. the original PC release). I don’t want this to come across quite so much as a criticism as it is an observation. If everything from the original game had been included in the iPad version I would probably be complaining that too much was squeezed into the game, and it doesn’t work well on the iPad.

Even though certain weapons and structures are absent in the game, you still get a lot of game for your money. Red Alert for iPad features three different factions: Allied, Soviet, and Empire of the Rising Sun. Each faction has five rounds for campaign mode. Not to mention you can play skirmish for an endless amount of time. There is also a multiplayer mode, which can be played using Wifi or Bluetooth. This is pretty cool, and I’m pretty upset I haven’t had the chance to take advantage of this, as games like this are most fun against friends.

Still, there are a few things that I was sad to see weren’t present in the iPad version. First, on the PC version when you explore a part of the map, that part of the map would remain visible to you for a short amount of time. On iPad once you leave that part of the map it becomes dark.

Also, in the original version of the game you could build ore trucks to collect ore and minerals for you. Investing in more ore trucks meant more incoming money, but it also meant you couldn’t spend that time building tanks. In the iPad version you have an ore refinery with no ore trucks, so you no longer have to balance your time between building tanks and ore trucks.

The main thing I miss about the original version is the ability to fight more than one enemy at the same time in a skirmish. I will admit that even though this was one of my favorite things to do it may have been a little much on the iPad. It would still be nice to have the option, though.

The controls for Red Alert for iPad are great. You scroll your finger around the screen to move around the map. This feels a little awkward at first. Its hard to describe why, its just not the same type of movement you experience when you move around a zoomed in picture on your iPad, for example. Once you get use to the movement it becomes second nature though. To zoom in and out you pinch two fingers (much like you would in the photo app). If you want to select more than one unit at once you can reverse pinch with three fingers. This works great, and is a good use of the multi touch. In the original version you could right click to cancel a unit that you are building. On the iPad if you want to do this you simply tap the button for the unit you want to cancel and drag your finger over. I thought this was a clever way to do this, and it worked well.

This screenshot, used in the App Store, shows the way multitouch can be used to select more than one unit.

The best thing about Red Alert for iPad? The price! Red Alert is currently available in the App Store for $4.99. While this game may not be everything its PC counterpart was, it’s available for probably 1/6th of what Red Alert for the PC sold for when it was new. This is a great price for the amount of game that you get. It should also be noted that there is an iPhone version available for $.99 as well as a free version for iPhone.

On a final note, Red Alert for iPad has a rather large number of negative customer reviews in the App Store about the app crashing While I can’t say for certain that the app won’t crash if you buy it, I can say that in a month of playing the game I witnessed only three crashes total. Admittedly, this is still more than anyone would want to see a game crash on them but is much less than the customer reviews would lead you to believe.

Final Rating: 7/10

CBR Break Down:
Console Played On: iPad (first generation)
Approximate Time to Completion: a few hours for each campaign. Endless hours of Skirmish.
Price Bought at: N/A – Review copy furnished by EA Games
Current Price: $4.99

Recommend Purchase Price: $4.99

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