There are so many different RTS (Real Time Strategy) computer games out there. Many people have been playing them for years and are curious to know which one was the best of all time. Although some focused on ancient times or may have not been very realistic, the genre still attracted thousands of fans. Some games were formatted as turn-based strategy and others were real-time strategy. Typically, real-time strategy games were more popular due to more realistic settings and missions. Furthermore, they gave the gamer more options and strategies when conducting major offensives.

Many military history buffs were drawn to these types of PC games because some recreated epic historical battles. On the other hand, other games took place in alternate history. These games used real historical facts and events, but also mixed fictional aspects to the storyline.  

In 1995, Command and Conquer was originally released for the PC. The game was a real-time strategy which gave the player the option of choosing one of two factions, NOD (The Brotherhood of Nod) or GDI (The Global Defense Initiative). The game had many realistic units including tanks, different types of soldiers, helicopters, and an assortment of naval vessels.

NavyCredit: Wikimedia Commons

The game did not have an actual monetary system, instead players acquired credits to build/purchase structures, equipment and units by mining for ore. The player would first construct an ore refinery, which automatically came with an ore truck. Players gained more credits and increased their buying power by building more ore factories and ore trucks. Rare gems would sometimes pop up as well, which generated more credits. Unfortunately, the rare gems did not regenerate within the map like the ore. One strategy that many players used involved destroying their enemy's ore trucks first, and then slowly gained territory closer to the opponent's primary base of operations. Once this was completed, a massive attack would occur directly on the opponent's ore refinery and power plants.

Command and Conquer was considered to be a commercial success, selling millions of copies and winning several awards. It has been cited as the title that defined the real-time strategy genre. Eventually, it was decided to continue the franchise and create a sequel to the original game.

In 1996, Command and Conquer: Red Alert was released. The setting of the game took place during the 1950s. In order to prevent the horrors of the Second World War, Albert Einstein creates a parallel universe. Einstein then manages to create a time machine and visits Adolf Hitler on December 20th 1924, right after Hitler is released from Landsberg prison. Following a brief conversation between the two, Einstein shakes Hitler's hand, and this somehow eliminates Hitler's existence from time. Einstein is then returned to his point of origin (which is in Trinity, New Mexico). According to the storyline, Hitler is either killed or stuck in between time.

Albert EinsteinCredit: Wikimedia Commons

However, Einstein eliminating Hitler actually altered history to a even more horrid future. Even though the rise of Nazi Germany never occurred, the scenario in the game allowed Joseph Stalin to expand further into Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. This led to the creation of a new European alliance. The alliance consisted of primarily Germany and Greece. Other Eastern European nations joined as well, including Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic (the map used in the game was based on Post-World War II Europe). Some of the games critics wanted to see Britain, France and Italy to be more involved in the storyline. Benito Mussolini is one of the historical figures that is never mentioned throughout the game. Many believe that Britain and France were considered to be part of the European alliance, but no one really knows where Italy stood.

Red Alert required each player to use their side's strengths in order to compensate for their weaknesses. Both sides had units with comparable abilities. The Soviet's vehicles were larger and more durable than the Allied units. On the flip side, they were also extremely slow and expensive. The Soviets were also given more adequate defense structures which included Tesla Coils and Flame Towers. The Allies had pill boxes and basic turrets. In regards to the Navy, the Soviets only had submarines, while the allies had a massive fleet of diversified ships (most likely a way of showing that Britain and France were involved in the storyline).

The Soviet Air Force was superior to the Allies because the Soviets had MiGs and Yak aircraft. On the other hand, the Allies were only armed with helicopters.

HusseinCredit: Wikimedia Commons

Both sides possessed a “secret weapon” that was researched thoroughly throughout the game and eventually deployed. The Soviets had the “Iron Curtain”, a structure that could give a unit or structure invincibility for a small period of time. It was created with the use of a special force-field. The Allies had the “Cronosphere”, a device that allowed transportation to occur instantaneously. The game allowed players not just to send an Allied tank into a Soviet base, but also allowed the Allies to transport a Soviet tank into the ocean or a Soviet ship onto the land. In skirmish modes, some players had the ability to use both “secret weapons” and transport a unit into an enemy base instantly with the invincibility turned on. A nuclear weapon was also used in the game, but it was extremely expensive and took a long time to construct. The criticism that came with the nuclear attack was that the damage it did was considerably small. For example, it would only damage a few structures and start a fire for a short period of time.  

The final Soviet mission ends with a full-scale invasion of Britain. Ultimately, Stalin commends his Commanders for a job well done. He then looks outside to see the British Communist Party in a parade waiving the Soviet flag. The story line then gets a bit strange when his wife, Nadia, poisons him with the tea he is drinking and then shoots him multiple times. She is then shot by Kane, the leader of NOD. Apparently, the storyline in linked directly to the original 1995 Command and Conquer game. The ending received mixed reviews because some people thought it became too confusing.

The Allied ending takes place near the Kremlin. An Allied platoon discovers Stalin buried alive in the rubble. The Greek General, Stavros, then then stuffs a handkerchief into Stalin's mouth, suffocating him. He then covers his head with a large stone and walks away. Allied generals from nations such as Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, and Poland are seen huddled around a map in excitement. This ending created the storyline for the sequel of Red Alert, which then became Red Alert 2.

TankCredit: Wikimedia Commons

The PC version of the game scored a 92% and Computer Gaming World gave it the Strategy Game of the Year award in 1996. In 1997, two expansion packs for Red Alert were released for the PC, Command & Conquer: Red Alert: Counterstrike, and Command & Conquer: Red Alert: The Aftermath. The expansion packs included new units, missions, maps and music.[1]

In 1998, Westwood Studios released Red Alert Retaliation. The game was released for the PlayStation. It also included new units and over 80 new maps. Red Alert Retaliation was released once again as a download for PS3 and PSP in December of 2008.

Command and Conquer: Red Alert will go down in history as one of the greatest RTS games ever made. It gave players not just so many options and strategies during missions, but it was somewhat realistic. Especially how the Soviets had units that were created based on post-Nazi era blueprints (the Soviet Mammoth tank is a modified version of the Panzer Maus VIII). Furthermore, some Allied missions even took place inside of Ukrainian nuclear power plants. If you haven't had a chance to play this game and you enjoy history and geo-politics, this game is definitely something you may want to play.