December 1, 2023

Nikopol Game

E-Sport News

Command & Conquer: Red Alert remains one of the most intense and imaginative strategy games ever made

(Image credit: EA)

The history of the strategy game

Red Alert box art

(Image credit: EA)

For more of Command & Conquer’s past, and a look back at the whole strategy genre, check out our beefy history of the strategy game, from 1972 to now. 

Released in November 1996, Command and Conquer: Red Alert was developed in just 14 months. That’s a staggeringly short turnaround for a game. Even accounting for the shorter development cycles of the mid-nineties—two years compared to today’s four—it’s still far less than the average for a major title of the era.

Red Alert was created in a pressure cooker, a lightning-fast response to the success of Command and Conquer, by a studio determined to capitalise on the zeitgeist it had created. It’s a project that could easily have gone awry, resulting in a game that felt rushed or incomplete. Instead, the result was an RTS that’s so immediate and so intense that it still hits like a SCUD missile 25 years on.

(Image credit: EA)

Naturally, it helps that the foundations of Red Alert were already laid at the outset of its production. The game relies heavily on the RTS framework Westwood established with Dune 2 and mastered in Command & Conquer, that effervescent mix of resource-gathering, base-building and fast-paced battles. Red Alert adopts C&C’s skeleton wholesale, including the interstitial cutscenes and the open-ended campaign structure that often lets you choose from a selection of missions. But upon this skeleton, Red Alert builds an experience that’s more frenetic and more imaginative, as well as being shamelessly ridiculous.