Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3

Spotlight

Xbox 360 vs PS3 Face-Off: Round 19

HAWX, Fiddy, Wheelman, Wanted, Red Alert 3, Godfather II, Battle Fantasia.

FeatureEurogamer meets Gemma and Tim

Stars of Red Alert 3 speak out, with video.

Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3

Brotherhood and freedom!

Key events

Xbox 360 vs PS3 Face-Off: Round 19

Xbox 360 vs PS3 Face-Off: Round 19

HAWX, Fiddy, Wheelman, Wanted, Red Alert 3, Godfather II, Battle Fantasia.

While our most recent Chronicles of Riddick face-off once again saw Xbox 360 emerge victorious in our ongoing comparison features, this more comprehensive roundup of recent releases suggests that maybe, just maybe, the balance of quality is starting to shift three years into the lifespan of the current-generation consoles. Taken as a whole, neither machine can claim victory over the other in this collection of games, probably the first time this has happened since our coverage began over two years ago. A sign of things to come, or just a factor of the specific games chosen? Only time will tell.

As is the norm, for the more interesting games you'll find embedded comparison videos. The combination of insane-level h264 encoding combined with slowing the video down to 50 per cent speed all but eliminates macroblocking, making for streaming vids that do actually show the difference. Couple that with our usual 24-bit RGB screenshot comparison galleries and you're all set with the very best possible assets to back up the critical comment.

Onto the line-up then, a seven-strong collection featuring the best of the most recent cross-platform releases.

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Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3

Watching the RTS genre attempting to break the console market is a lot like watching a very persistent pigeon repeatedly smashing into a window. Of all the genres spawned on the PC, real-time strategy is the one most tied to the mouse and keyboard control system, since it revolves around pointing and clicking rather than moving and shooting. The Command & Conquer series has fared better than most, however, and Red Alert 3 continues to refine the successful "command wheel" interface that's helped achieve this.

The command wheel allows you to call up a circle of icons with the right trigger to manage all your production and construction options from anywhere on the map. The wheel becomes more specific should you call it up with a particular building type selected, but you can access most features simply by drilling down into the different options from the default menu.

Flexibility is key to making the controls work, so however you prefer to do your armchair strategising the game finds a way to accommodate you. Selecting units, for instance, can be a question of simply highlighting one with your cursor and hitting the A button. Clicking on additional units with the left bumper held down adds them to your selection. Alternatively, a double-tap of the A button automatically selects every unit of that type. Or, if that doesn't suit, a double-tap of the X button puts every unit on-screen under your control. The d-pad can be used to shuttle between available units, and the stickiness of the cursor can be tweaked to find the right balance between speedy selection and smooth scrolling.

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Red Alert 3 demo on Xbox Live

2GB sampler available to Gold subs.

EA has released an Xbox 360 demo of Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, although the 2GB sampler is currently only available to Xbox Live Gold subscribers.

FeatureEurogamer meets Gemma and Tim

Stars of Red Alert 3 speak out, with video.

Imagine being so rich you could pay Gemma Atkinson to wear outfits of your choosing and stand in Trafalgar Square on a rainy October night, shouting things you'd told her to shout. Well, that's what life is like for lucky old Electronic Arts. They hired the former Hollyoaks star to appear in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, and to promote the game at their recent Be the One event.

Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3

Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3

Brotherhood and freedom!

Somebody needs to put a stop to the Red Alert games. Not because their quality is going downhill, mind. Red Alert 3's an awesome continuation of the series, and the decision to make all three of its campaigns co-operative affairs is the kind of game design that makes you pray whoever it was that came up with the idea got promoted and laid on the same day. It's just that with every new Red Alert game the series drops further into the gutter. The cheesy plot, the unbelievable national stereotypes, the comic book science, the cleavage, the animals that act as improbably effective military units, all of it is increasing at an exponential rate. I mean, they cannot keep this up. Unless someone stops them, Red Alert 4 is going to come out one day and it's going to be a DVD containing nothing but an hour-long video of William H. Macy dancing on a topless Steve Buscemi. One of them will probably have a Russian hat on or something.

For the moment though, Red Alert 3 is still just about holding it together. The plot begins with the Soviets using a prototype time machine to go back to the beginning of the 20th century to kill Einstein, thereby stopping him from developing powerful super-weapons for the Allies. The Soviet top brass return to a future where their nation is kicking ass and taking names, although for some reason the death of Einstein also means the Japanese, now known as the Empire of the Rising Sun, are a nanotechnology-equipped world power (and third playable side).

But we can talk about the Japanese in a bit. As a feature they're completely eclipsed by the new co-op nature of the game's three campaigns. This isn't just the option to play through each of the game's missions with a friend; all of the levels are designed from the ground up for two people, and if you're playing alone then a subservient AI general fills the gap and a simple order system opens up so you can boss him around.

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EA to take over Trafalgar Square again

Play games, look at Gemma Atkinson.

EA will be hosting an enormous public event inside the largest temporary structure ever erected in London's Trafalgar Square on 31st October and 1st November.

EA cements Red Alert 3 dates

PC in October, Xbox 360 just behind.

EA has told Eurogamer that Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 will be arriving first for PC on 31st October and then for Xbox 360 on 14th November.

WAR item for Red Alert 3 pre-orders

In-game helmet that turns you into a bear.

Those pre-ordering Red Alert 3 will get an exclusive in-game item for Warhammer Online, which appears to be a helmet that turns you into a bear. Bizarre.

Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3

Faction stations.

If it does nothing else, Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 will at least provide conclusive proof that, were it not for the Second World War, the Soviet Union would have developed the technology to make their own hotpants by the 1950s. If you're worried that the success of Company of Heroes may have tempted Red Alert to take itself a bit more seriously this time around, the sight of Russian troops marching into battle decked out in military-themed club-wear confirms that the series has lost none of its sense of humour.

Future C&C beta key in Red Alert 3

Future C&C beta key in Red Alert 3

Premier Edition treat.

GAME's exclusive "Premier" package for Red Alert 3 on PC includes a mystery beta key for an unnamed Command & Conquer game.

The package, which costs GBP 44.99, also includes a host of other goodies.

Chief among them for the average internet misogynist is probably the 'Women of Red Alert 3 montage video', presumably featuring Gemma Atkinson, but it's the beta key which has most people's interest piqued.

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Red Alert 3 beta with Kane's Wrath

Red Alert 3 beta with Kane's Wrath

C&C3 expansion pack dated, too.

Electronic Arts has said that Command & Conquer 3: Kane's Wrath will be out on 28th March, and each copy will come with an individual beta key for Red Alert 3.

It coincides with the publisher officially unveiling RA3, claiming it only "dipped its feet in the water" with Command & Conquer 3.

"Red Alert 3 is chocked full of innovations, but the big one is the co-op campaign," said executive producer Chris Corry in the latest BattleCast.

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C&C Red Alert 3 in the works

Big secret not so secret any more.

Red Alert 3 appears to be the big Command & Conquer secret producer David Silverman has been promising to announce at the end of February.