Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 is, in a way, not a direct sequel to the events of Red Alert 2. See, after Albert Einstein went back in time to kill Hitler, inadvertently creating an alternate time line in which the Allies are battling the Soviets for control of Europe, the Soviets, facing defeat, have gone back in time to kill Einstein and remove his history-changing inventions (like the A-bomb) from the equation. This creates an alternate-alternate time line in which the Soviets were winning until the Empire of the Rising Sun came out of nowhere to claim world domination for Japan. (Also, in this time line Allied commando Tanya is blonde for some reason.) Does it make a lick of sense? No. Is it a fantastically over-the-top story that perfectly sets the tone for a huge battle with equally absurd units? Absolutely.
Each of the three factions’ nine-mission campaigns can be played solo or in co-op mode (see below); in each, you win the war for your side. In solo mode, the forces that would have been controlled by your teammate are run by a friendly AI competent enough that it usually doesn’t require babysitting, and can even respond to your attack orders in a rudimentary sort of way. RA3’s boldest move is to allow every single mission to be played in co-op mode. This is a novel approach that’s never been tried in a major RTS, but EA has pulled it off almost flawlessly. This mode is a dream come true for non-competitive RTS fans who like to play with instead of against their friends, but find unstructured skirmishes against AI opponents unfulfilling.
The all-new Empire of the Rising Sun faction does an excellent job of setting itself apart from the original factions by capitalizing on the weapons the Japanese do best: giant robots that transform into stuff. The Striker VX attack helicopter and Mecha Tengu fighter jet can both transform into walker robots with different capabilities, and enormous King Oni robots smash through enemy tanks like the Kool-Aid Man through a brick wall. My only complaint is that the Japanese faction’s advanced robots are at odds with the retro feel of RA and seem more like something from the regular futuristic C&C universe.