The second reason that Uprising makes us thrash like a petulant schoolboy is that we still love Red Alert. You don’t curse if you don’t care, and we cursed prolifically. We want our Mecha Tengus to follow our VX Choppers properly when we set them all a target because, and we don’t say this often enough, we freaking love Mecha Tengus. We love the new units too: the Soviet Mortar Bikes are swift, flexible and fun, the Empire’s Giga Fortress is a floating head of hilariously fatal deathbeams, and the jetpacking Allied Cryo-Legionnaires talk like a Schwarzeneggian Mr. Freeze.
Interestingly, an old unit is the star of Uprising: psychic Japanese schoolgirl maniac Yuriko Omega. There’s a special prequel campaign in which you play as her alone, with four hotkeys to her special abilities in place of the usual interface. It works at first: this is a genuinely new way to play, and her Telekinesis ability is wonderful to hurl enemies around with. But by the campaign’s conclusion, trying to avoid every unnecessary hitpoint of damage to survive becomes a tiresomely fussy task.
Like the rest of Uprising, the Yuriko campaign is single-player only. And bizarrely, that extends even to the skirmish mode: you can play against the AI, but there’s no Versus mode or multiplayer of any kind. It’s a particular shame because Skirmish is the best way to play: the new units up the kerplosion ante significantly. It proves what should have been obvious: a good game is best when you don’t script it, gimp it or over-restrict it.
The file that runs when you start Uprising is ‘ra3ep1.exe’, which suggests Electronic Arts LA are planning more. If so, we hope they accept that their interface and AI simply aren’t good enough to let the player’s success hinge on a handful of units. And we hope they create something that lets us flex our tactical creativity a little more than this.
Apr 1, 2009