Red Alert 3: Commander's Challenge Review (Xbox360)

Never wanting to leave console gamers out of the loop, Electronic Arts is bringing forth an expansion to Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in the form of Red Alert 3: Commanderís Challenge. Already seeing its release for the PC under the expansion pack Red Alert 3: Uprising, Red Alert 3: Commanderís Challenge should occupy the time of the gamers who waited out for console expansion.

Commanderís Challenge allows players to choose between the Soviets, Allied Power or the Imperial Forces of the Rising Sun for any number of the 50 unique challenges. With the primary goal to vanquish the enemies on the maps, the combat is as entertaining as it ever was in the original Red Alert 3. Each battle has its own rules of engagement and, with every passing battle, a new tech will be unlocked for players to use. Thatís right; at the start of a campaign to finish all the challenges, players will only be equipped with their basic forces and have to unlock the advanced arsenal by completing the challenges. With every passing victory, a new tech will be unlocked. There are also side challenges available, which, more often than not, have many of the best unlocks.

If players have never played Red Alert 3, then hereís a quick overview of the controls since strategy games on the consoles have always been a heavily debated topic. The A button is used to select units and perform actions; holding it down paints the ground to select units in a particular area. For even more controls with the A button, pressing it twice will select all units of a particular type on the screen. The right thumbstick rotates and zooms the camera while the left thumbstick moves the camera. The D-Pad allows players to snap to a particular unit on the field instead of moving the cursor to hunt them down. The left bumper and right bumper are Commanderís Challenge waypoint and action modifier. Holding down the X button selects all the units on the screen and the B button deselects all units. The Y button jumps to a particular selection and, if players hold the left bumper and press Y, they can bookmark camera position. To execute special maneuvers, players must hold the right bumper and then press the X and A buttons together. Lastly, the left trigger pulls up radar mode to check where the units are positioned and the right trigger pulls up the command menu. The controls in general arenít too complicated, but they do take some time to get used to.

Storming an Imperial base.
All to protect a silly statue.

The challenges themselves are spread all across the globe, which is represented by a full map that players can choose to play. Commanderís Challenge asks the question: ďDo you have what it takes to conquer the final challenge and every side challenge. The greatest commanders could achieve all under posted par times.Ē The idea that Commanderís Challenge is based around is that players are competitive with their friends and will want to try and top each other with high scores. Attempting to win within the select par time, players are timed for their work in every challenge. As tense as a timed battle can be, Commanderís Challenge keeps players on their toes.

In the first challenge titled ďDead MeatĒ, players are tasked to enter a battle in Eastern Europe as they battle Commander Hill, a washed-up and over-the-hill war hero who is well known for his command of attack dogs at his training camp. Played by the legendary WWE pro-wrestler Ric Flair, Commander Hill is a pushover and can be easily beaten within two to three minutes. Players shouldnít be too confident as heíll reappear tougher than the first time they meet later on in the story. In the second challenge, which is far more difficult, players enter into a battle that has two Japanese warlords fighting against one another. Players can sit back and build up their arsenal before they ever enter the battle, but if they want to get under the par time, theyíll have to build up quickly. Each and every challenge is unique; especially the later challenges that require a wealthy amount of timing and strategy to be completed.

Outside of the challenges, thereís not much incentive to come back to the title. Thereís a quick tutorial to learn the basics of the controls and tactics, but thatís not exactly a mode that helps longevity. Watching all of the tongue-in-cheek live-action cinematics is entertaining enough to hold the attention of the player. Ric Flair does his best not to laugh during his delivery of the lines and even slurs many of his lines together to the point where itís unrecognizable what he is actually saying.

The only issue that stuck out like a sore thumb was that the magnetism of the cursor was poor and three options to change it didnít help either. For only 800 Microsoft Points, Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3: Commanderís Challenge has plenty of replay value for offline players.

Top Game Moment: The moment you realize that the acting is done in a campy manner. If you can appreciate their over-the-top dialogue, then the challenges are even more compelling.

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