EA Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3
Whether you enjoy this real-time strategy game depends on how happy you are to have comedy thrown in alongside your armoured assaults.
At heart, it's just like its predecessors: collect resources, build an army and defeat another army. Much of this game will be instantly familiar to anyone who has played Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars (see What's New, Shopper 234).
The key difference is that, while Tiberium Wars flirted with campness, the plot here ramps the silliness as high as it'll go. A defeated Stalinist Russia - having lost to the Allies inthe alternative World War II - builds a time machine to go back and kill Einstein. For some reason, this causes modern-day Russia to be caught up in a three-way war with the Allies and a robot-centric Japan. And somehow, every side has developed fighting forces more suited to Futurama than Fallujah.
Transforming fighter jets, armoured attack bears and amphibious battleships are all featured. They fill traditional real-time strategy roles, but are enhanced by their comic frills. The trouble is that once you've seen all the units and giggled at every knowingly awful cut scene, there's a very straight game underneath. The differing factions mean it'll keep on giving if you play the online multiplayer game, but for all its silliness, it struggles to be as interesting in single player. Admittedly, naval combat is ramped up from previous games, but it plays out in much the same way as ground warfare. Far more fun is the new cooperative mode, which lets you team up with an online chum to conquer the three storyline campaigns.
If you've vaguely followed the C&C series, this is pretty much exactly what you'd expect. It's not ambitious, but it certainly knows how to show you a good time. If you're a total newcomer, it's a fine starting point.