This RTS, the sequel to Command & Conquer: Red Alert, was developed by Westwood Studios and published by Electronic Arts for the PC in 2000. It is rated T for Teen.

The first Red Alert is one of the most innovative real-time strategy games ever made. The single-player campaign featured some truly amazing scenarios (a level, for example, where you have to capture a building within a time limit, and then play another level inside the building with the time still running from the previous mission). It was one of the first RTS's to offer a large number of specialized units. (Like the spy, the attack dog, the medic, the mobile gap generator, the radar jammer; get the idea?)

Like any C&C game, RA2 isn't anything fundamentally new, but it is the biggest change yet in the C&C series. The old two-column sidebar, staple of the series, is replaced by one with four tabs. Where, previously, the left side was for buildings and the right was for units, now each tab selects a different type of thing the player can build (buildings, defensive structures, infantry, and vehicles), and all those things the player can build under that heading appear in the two columns. An interesting side effect of this is that you can now build buildings and defensive structures at the same time, which is insanly useful.

The game's engine is inherited from the previous game. One can easily tell that it's the same basic engine, but it just looks better in every respect. Gone (thank god) is the mutatable terrain that made life hell in Tiberian Sun, and things like the destroyable bridges have been given more thought (they can now be destroyed via the same huts that repair them, for one thing). Westwood has adopted a (previously 3rd-party) level editor for RA2 called Final Alert 2, an item missing both from Tiberian Sun (I believe that there is another version of Final Alert for that game) and the initial release of this game. The random map generator is still in the game, and seems just a little smarter.

The Allies and the Soviets duke it out once more. As in the first game, the Allies rely on high tech gadgets and the Soviets rely on brute force. However, they each have some new tricks up their sleeve. The Allies have a great deal more of their chrono stuff. Their harvesters now teleport right back to the refinery when they've collected a load of money, effectively increasing mining efficiency by about 150 percent and decreasing the time the miner has to sit in the field, open to attack. They also have a unit that teleports around the map and demobilizes units for a period of time before they simply disappear. Prism technology is also big, with a new defensive structure called the Prism Tower (a very useful anti-tank structure, which they sorely lacked in the first Red Alert) and a new tank with a similar weapon, but little armor.

The Soviets have new miners, too: they've strapped a moderately useful machine gun onto the top, allowing them to fend off pesky groups of infantry that wander around the ore fields. I don't think this is as useful as the Allied Chrono Miners, but it's better than nothing. The Tesla Coils are still in the game, but they've been nerfed (decreased in effectiveness). If you want them to be as effective as they were in the first one, you'll have to post a few Tesla Troopers (infantry with little Tesla weapons) around them to charge them up. The Soviets also have a new unit called Yuri, who can take over enemy units (one unit at a time, per Yuri), which is a really quite effective scheme for defending one's base. They also have a building called a cloning vat, which creates a duplicate of every infantry unit you make, effectively halving the cost of infantry units. Between Tesla Troopers and Yuris (not to mention Flak Troopers, their most effective air defense), this is a must. The Soviets also have a huge, heavily armored airship called a Kirov, which drops bombs of much explosiveness. These are rediculously powerful, and half a dozen, properly used, can clear away tough grease spots without leaving a single streak.

I'm not going to go into the plot. It's not worth it. In a nutshell: Shit Happens, and the Soviets attack the US. Whoo hoo.

Balance-wise, the Allies are a little more powerful, but not by much. (Westwood is getting better at this.) For some reason, the Allies are the ones with airstrike abilities now (which is really goddamnedly useful, as ever), and I'd have to say this tips the scales in their favor. Beyond that, the Prism Tanks, which basically amount to long-range artillery, can rip through an enemy base quite quickly for a decent price, but they're rather prone to getting attacked. The Kirovs can do the same, but are so slow that a group of Allied rocketeers (or, even better, AEGIS Cruisers) can eat them alive. Mirage Tanks (tanks that look like trees when not moving) are great defenders, but once the jig is up can be dealt with swiftly. Everything has a counter, it seems, and an aware player can take advantage of other player's weaknesses. As in any strategy game, a mixed force is best.