A Fortnight of Fright: It Came From Red Alert!

Posted: October 22, 2011 in Retro
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

As Halloween night draws near, Chad has taken it upon himself to dig into the vaults to bring you some of his favorite horror-themed video games in his Fortnight of Fright. Can you handle the madness? Read on, if you dare!

Them. THEM!

Command & Conquer: Red Alert was the even-better sequel/prequel/temporally confusing follow-up to one of the biggest games of the Real-Time Strategy boom of the mid ’90s. In short, the game’s timeline involved Albert Einstein erasing Hitler from history, inadvertently causing the Soviet Union to act more aggressively, sparking a very different version of World War II. ¬†And, as most successful RTS of the day did, it received expansions – the first of which, Counterstrike (no relation to the popular Half-Life mod), included a set of new missions pitting the Allies and Soviets against giant mutant ants, a la the 1950s classic THEM!

Now, if you played Red Alert 2 and 3 the giant ants would seem positively mundane (as by then, the series had surrendered itself to camp and silliness). But since the Red Alert series wasn’t yet a farce, these were creative and entertaining missions that took place outside of Red Alert’s dark world of Soviet aircraft strafing civilians and Allied sabotage. The missions are in many ways a spiritual successor to the first Command & Conquer‘s “funpark” missions, which pitted the game’s forces against dinosaurs. However, the giant ant missions (as they’re often called) have a small if fun story arc which finds both sides essentially calling a truce until they can turn the giant insects into giant toasted insects, finally taking on the Queen. Dale Gribble would be proud.

See that red thing in the passage on the bottom of the screen? That’s an ant.

There’s not much to it, as they’re essentially secret missions in what is already a mission pack, but they’re fun, and definitely one of the earliest examples of throwing a few horror-themed missions into a non-horror-themed game; something which we’ve seen again recently with both Borderlands and Red Dead Redemption. It’s just additional gameplay with a different flavor, all in the name of more fun. I dig it.

Previous FoF Entry: Splatterhouse (1988)
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