Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 Commander's Challenge is essentially a series of challenges, as the name suggests, that test the players ability to deal with a lot more varied scenarios than in the original game. It was released as part of Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 Uprising earlier in the year for the PC and it has now been made available on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network to test players' resolve and tactical prowess.
As previously mentioned, Commander's Challenge was originally only one part of Uprising, and because of this, there is no story available. It's purely a series of tasks which stretch the tactical and strategical mind. However as a pure test of mettle for the hardcore fans and Real Time Strategy players this game offers an excellent test. However, it's advised to at least attempt playing Red Alert 3 as preparation.
The game's difficulty is extremely unforgiving. Challenges meet players head on and are extremely unrelenting, which means there is a very steep learning curve. The game doesn't attempt to ease players into the experience, it's very full-on. Commander's Challenge expects players to know the basics and be more than capable of multitasking early on. That said they have encompassed the Tutorial section from Red Alert 3, however, it's quite basic and some players may find themselves being overcome by the difficultly of later stages.
The gameplay mechanics and how everything is controlled is identical to Red Alert 3, and this is very impressive as there have been no concessions made. Being able to navigate on the map and battlefield at speed and access build queues on a wheel is essential to being able to do half the challenges. This said it does require more dexterity still than that of a mouse and keyboard but none the less it doesn't feel awkward.
Starting the actual game introduces players to the world map and a single mission. There is a short introductory scene provided by real footage as per all the previous Command & Conquer titles and then missions are untaken one by one. There are 13 main challenges and 37 optional side-missions which open up as the main challenges are completed. However, every time a player completes a challenge they unlock a new technology for a certain faction, so there is plenty of incentive. Initially each faction starts out with a very limited unit selection and completing challenges to unlock new units is essential to progressing efficiently. Thankfully every challenge can be done with any of the three factions, so players who are particularly strong with one faction will be able to use it for all the challenges.
There are several features in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 Commander's Challenge that are rather unique, the first being the vast array of new units on offer. Some are extremely useful for taking out rather large waves of enemy units or defences, which means that players have to adapt quite well with their forces to actually beat their opponents, as opposed to just having the strongest defence or the most units. This is also something else that has been swiftly dealt with, as all of the scenarios have some kind of pitfall element to them. Each challenge is very unique and requires a lot of tactical thinking to get through, something that the main game lacked as the ability to just storm across the map with a large force generally achieved victory.
Graphically the game is still just as detailed as the main game and some of the new units have sound effects that are particularly impressive to listen to. Heated battles are very epic in terms of effects and deafening noise and there is absolutely no slowdown despite all the action. The soundtrack also follows suit and still remains just as iconic as ever. Video feeds during missions and voice acting is still top notch, and players shan't be disappointed with that.
As a now standalone game, Commander's Challenge is ideal for anyone who has stuck to the console RTS games, but for those that own Uprising on the PC it's just a repeat of what they have already seen without the additional campaign. However, as a series of hardcore challenges to bring veterans back onto the game for another bout it does its job well. While there is an online ranking system for all the levels none of the content is available for competitive play online which is a tad disappointing, however, there is plenty of time to be spent here and the majority of the challenges really will test players to the limit.