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Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 [PC]


Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2  - Hard Mode Difficulty (Soviet and Allied)

May it be literary or portrayed through media, historical fiction revisits past events from a different point of view. On a small scale, an author may set a fictional character in an actual historical time period. On a large scale, entire civilizations may rise or fall at the whim of an author’s imagination. Apply the later example to any major world conflict in the past 100 years and the result is the same: Unparalleled Dystopia.

For example, consider the political conflict between America and Russia in the later half of the 20th century. In reality, the Cold War’s namesake derives from the fact that a war never actually occurred. Enter Red Alert 2 in which game development firm Westwood Studios alternatively starts nuclear war and introduces futuristic methods of weather manipulation, mind control, time travel and, of course, nuclear fallout. Should America be incinerated or should the Soviet Union be crushed once more? Choose a side and ensure that Hard Mode is selected because protecting the world or creating mushroom clouds is no easy task.

The Challenge? Complete the Allied and Soviet campaigns on Hard Mode.

Is this a worthy Challenge? Let's find out.

Allied Campaign

The Soviet invasion took America off guard but the patriots find the courage to defend and strike back. Over the course of twelve missions, it is up to the Commander (i.e. the player) to save the nation and, ultimately, the world.

Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2  - Hard Mode Difficulty (Soviet and Allied)

Throughout the Allied campaign, the player must utilize Tanya; the female embodiment of the egotistical Havoc from Westwood’s Renegade installment. Most mission objectives include “Keep Tanya Alive” which becomes more straining as the campaign progresses and the missions get more Difficult. Tanya is the most powerful unit available but her utilization should be limited because her death will result in a Game Over.

Allied Mission 2 [Eagle Dawn] is initially Challenging simply because of the lack of available units. At this stage, it is worth noting the difference between Red Alert 2’s Difficulty settings in the campaigns. As seen in the below Mission 2 screenshots, the primary difference is the amount of enemy units.

In this example, Easy Mode includes an initial patrol of only four Soviet conscripts (left picture) whereas Hard Mode includes five Conscripts and a Soviet tank (right picture). With a triple-promoted Tanya on-hand, any number of infantry would be desecrated but the tank is a problem because she is not effective against vehicles. With only three GI soldiers available, the player must “garrison” them inside the nearby tent. Garrisoned structures offer unit protection and increased firepower in which this is the only method to destroy the tank.

Westwood Studios wastes no time introducing Yuri, the bald mind-controller of the Soviet Union. Yuri has secretly installed Psychic Beacons in Washington D.C. and Chicago to control the minds of its citizens. Mission 3 and 4 call upon the Commander to destroy them. In Washington D.C., the Soviets have captured the President and now guard monuments such as the Lincoln and Washington memorial. The monuments play an important role because they offer valuable unit upgrades and resources via crates.

Note:

Throughout both campaigns, wooden “crates” may appear when the player performs a unique military action such as destroying or garrisoning a particular building. On Hard Mode, these additional war funds are critical.

After a failed Soviet mind-control initiative in Washington D.C., Chicago is nuked instead. America has defeated Yuri’s threat but nuclear war is officially upon them and Red Alert's historical fiction Allied Leader, President Dugan, declares international emergency.

Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2  - Hard Mode Difficulty (Soviet and Allied)

"I don't give a wooden nickel about your legacy!”

- President Dugan

Finally, from Mission 8 onwards, the Allied campaign picks up steam on Hard Mode. Henceforth, players may experience the following:

Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2  - Hard Mode Difficulty (Soviet and Allied)

In Mission 8 [Free Gateway], Yuri has installed another Psychic Beacon in St. Louis and Tanya’s “strike team” leads the charge. This is the first mission that forces a completion within a time limit and is one of the more interesting recon Tanya missions. Tanya only has 20 minutes to destroy the Psychic Beacon before they lose their minds to Yuri. Tanya and three triple-promoted GDIs are accompanied by two engineers. In the pursuit to find resource buildings, engineers perished along the way and Lord Rigor lost twice to the time limit.

After some Trial-and-Error, Lord Rigor found an Allied War Factory and Ore Refinery in the southwest corner of the map. In this instance, it is important to note that a captured Ore Refinery does not yield an Ore Miner; one must be built in order to generate an income. On Hard Mode, funds are extremely limited but, with enough awareness, an army can be raised to destroy the Psychic Beacon.

Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2  - Hard Mode Difficulty (Soviet and Allied)

At this point in the campaign, unique units are still being introduced forcing players to keep learning while trudging through Hard Mode. Mission 10 is an interesting Challenge and is an excellent training mission reminiscent of a Skirmish match on the multiplayer map Snow Valley. Lord Rigor believes that success in Red Alert 2 derives from multi-base management in order to effectively control map resources. In the case of Mission 10, controlling the center of the map whilst consuming the ore in the west and southeast will ensure suitable growth for an Allied armada.

At one point, the Soviets were desperate enough to send a lone engineer towards Lord Rigor's base. The engineer was swiftly struck down by the United States Air Force:

Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2  - Hard Mode Difficulty (Soviet and Allied)

At last, the final Missions of the Allied campaign offer a True Challenge. Lord Rigor presents the last two missions of both the Allied and Soviet campaigns accordingly:

“This message goes out to hidden Commander, who continues to dance but ceases to amuse.”

- Premier Romanov

For both Missions, numerous appendages of Lord Rigor’s base were bitten off, but the critical limbs were never severed. Hard Mode for these Missions were indeed Difficult but proper defense balanced with offensive momentum ensured a slow and steady victory.

Lord Rigor paid close attention to the Super Weapon countdowns and simply prepared accordingly. Embrace nuclear fallout and counter-attack with Einstein's Super Weapons. As a final-note to succeed on Mission 12, do not destroy the Kremlin and only eliminate the surrounding Soviet defense. Lord Rigor paid for this mistake. Moscow yields to the Allied Commander and the extravagant Cold War comes to a conclusion.

To summarize Red Alert 2's Allied campaign series, Lord Rigor archived mission Par Times below. Lord Rigor defined Collectability in Red Alert 2 refers to a player's effort to beat each mission within Par Time.

Soviet Campaign

America did not win the Cold War; the Soviets did. Led by Russian Premier Romanov and guided by the Russian beauty, Lieutenant Zofia, another 12 Missions build this climactic turn of world events.

Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2  - Hard Mode Difficulty (Soviet and Allied)

The Soviets are the invaders. In turn, many missions require the player to attack and subsequently defend a particular location in order to continue the invasion. For example, the World Trade Centers in Mission 3 must be captured and defended long enough for Yuri’s Psychic Beacon to activate. Expend all available resources towards the defense and ensure that the World Trade Centers are garrisoned with Conscript units in order to obtain resource crates.

It is interesting to note that Red Alert 2 was released in the year 2000; a year before September 11th, 2001. After 9/11, Mission 3 remained intact but the original Red Alert 2 box art was changed because it depicted the World Trade Centers.

Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2  - Hard Mode Difficulty (Soviet and Allied)

Compared to Mission 3, Mission 4 [Home Front] is reversed in which the player must defend and then attack. The base must be defended long enough to amass an army against South Korea’s base to the east. As soon as Lt. Zofia informed Lord Rigor of an opportunity to attack, all mobile units were repurposed to eliminate the Koreans.

Note:

Allocate resources for both offensive and defensive maneuvers. At times, it is useful to use units from the Barracks or War Factory for defense because, when the time is right, they may be immediately utilized for offense objectives. Utilize them in conjunction with permanent defenses such as Tesla Coils or Prism Towers.

Mission 7 is a pure defensive battle in the Ural Mountains of Russia and is indeed Difficult. After about 20 minutes of small ground and air engagements, the Allies send their full force including both Rocketeers and Prism Tanks to destroy the Soviet Battle Lab. To effectively defend against Prism Tanks, Conscripts and Apocalypse Tanks were staggered on the outskirts of the base to limit prism range. Lord Rigor’s ambition led him to explore the map whilst defending. Oil derricks may be captured in the east and further money crates may be obtained by destroying Allied vehicles in the southeast and northwest.

Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2  - Hard Mode Difficulty (Soviet and Allied)

The Motherland has been preserved and Soviet patriotism fills the spirit to continue the war effort. Sadly, Premier Romanov is ill and Yuri assumes leadership of the Soviet empire.

With the leader of the free world captured and their Weather Machine destroyed, ultimate victory is at hand. However, Yuri has killed Premier Romanov and must be punished. Across Missions 1 through 10, Lord Rigor had not experienced a single defeat in the Soviet Campaign. This changes on Mission 11 in which Lord Rigor lost six times prior to succeeding. As such, witness Lord Rigor’s account of Yuri’s defeat in Moscow:

The Motherland demands sacrifice. Much like its role in World War II (consider Stalingrad), the Russian Soviet Empire embodies its ancient and brutal tactic of success through sheer numbers. If a Conscript is crushed beneath an Allied tank, a comrade steps forward to take his place. If a Conscript’s mind is overturned by Yuri clone, a comrade swiftly lays the traitor to rest.

Note:

Dogs or Terror Drones are ideal assassins because they can't be mind controlled by Yuri clones.

On Hard Mode, Mission 11 [Red Revolution] proved to be the most Challenging mission of all Red Alert 2 campaigns. This Difficulty is primarily due to the fact that, during the construction phases of the player's base, Yuri attacks in different stages accordingly. For example, as soon as Lord Rigor built His Weapons Factory, Yuri launched a more focused operation that included deadlier units (such as the Terror Drones and Apocalypse Tanks) while muttering:

“You don’t really think that War Factory will help you defeat me, do you?”

- Yuri

In an ultimate showcase of learning through Trial-and-Error on Hard Mode, Lord Rigor overthrew Yuri with only a Barracks and a War Factory. As planned, Yuri never activated his Iron Curtain because Lord Rigor never built a Battle Lab. In a painful series of open field sprints, Lord Rigor’s Conscript army eventually succeeded within Par Time.

Mission 12 [Polar Storm] is an enduring example of the war tactics utilized throughout the Soviet campaign: Invade and Destroy. Similar to the final missions of the Allied campaign, death will incur as soon as the player’s offensive forward momentum slows down. Overall, the Soviet campaign proved to be more Challenging than the Allied campaign and was a profoundly rewarding experience.

Lord Rigor's time commitment to the Soviet cause is cataloged below:


Campaign Par Times

Similar to His accounting in Iggy's Reckin' Balls, Lord Rigor has outlined his Par Times for each of the Red Alert 2 campaigns. Note that these Par Times do not represent "speedrun" attempts; on the contrary, these represent Lord Rigor's adaptive survival capabilities.


Unwilling to restart missions when losing, Lord Rigor fought each Mission to the bone which resulted in a few unmet Par Times. Past Missions weren't revisited in an attempt to earn faster Par Times and the below catalogue represents first successful attempts:



Although Lord Rigor's Par Time difference in the Soviet campaign was much quicker than the Allied times, Lord Rigor believes the Soviet campaign to be more Difficult.

Skirmish Games (Trials)

Trials are open-form objectives with adjustable Difficulty scales or Collectability Challenges. In Red Alert 2, Brutal Difficulty AIs are worth Challenging in the Skirmish Game mode. Those Trials are outlined in the below Uniform Resource Locator:



Conclusion

Is this a worthy Challenge? Yes.

In Red Alert 2, the outcome of the Allied and Soviet campaigns offers a glimpse into a parallel universe. On one hand, nuclear fallout on a large scale. On the other hand, an imaginative calamity including invincible enemies, teleporting tanks and other Westwood wizardry. In either case, the fate of the human world is determined by skilled military leaders.

Wars throughout history were not won easily. However, Red Alert 2 on Hard Mode is not inherently Difficult. With enough systematic persistence, even the most Difficult of campaign Levels can be completed within Par Time. Determine the goal through Personal Gratification and save or destroy civilization.

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