Egypt has its own little hall of fame when it comes to video games, far removed from that of the western world. Whether it was a matter of circumstance, one man’s brave attempt to download an entire game on dial-up, or just good old spontaneous entry into Egyptian existence, a neat few handful of games have permeated Egyptian society both young and old. Regardless of whether or not they’re into video games in the first place.
Today’s classic pick for the mod treatment is good old Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2. Perhaps the Command & Conquer series’ most successful (and prolific) title to date, this 2001 gem managed to find its way into almost every computer around Egypt over the years. And it’s still pretty lively even today, regardless of the latest (saddest) entries into the series.
Wait, What is a Mod?
Addons, extensions, expansions, mods, they’re all pretty much the same thing: a modification to any video game that can change anything from the smallest logistical statistic in a unit all the way up to adding entire gigabytes of fresh, new, and free content. Oftentimes, a mod can totally convert the base game, and at the very least, provide it with a welcome rebalance and reshuffle of levels or so to refresh your experience.
Red Alert 2, being as modifiable as it is, has spawned many a modification over the years. Some add new mechanics, most add new units and buildings, and others work more subtly; changing only how the game works, while maintaining its original look and feel. So here’s a handful of fun ones to get you started on reinvigorating your RA2 experience.
Bear in mind that mods are entirely community-created, and come with their own flaws and bugs. Do not expect a smooth, bug-free experience.
You Need Red Alert 2 Installed to Play these Mods
Yuri’s Revenge was an awesome little expansion for Red Alert 2 back in the day. Getting to know a bit more about Yuri and his mind-melting Epsilon army was as much fun as popping bubble wrap at age 10. Two flaws persisted with it though: It was short-lived in singleplayer, and you could only play Epsilon in multiplayer.
Enter Mental Omega; a modification that multiplies everything good about Yuri’s Revenge by a hundred (and everything bad by zero). Meant to be an expansion to an expansion back in 2005, Mental Omega adds a whole hell of a lot to Red Alert 2. Each faction gets its own single player campaign (with 2 player co-op), and that includes Epsilon. Each faction gets a shitload of new units and buildings (and each split into three subfactions), reworked mechanics, a new soundtrack for each, And if that wasn’t enough, you get an entirely new (and overpowered) fourth faction: The Foehn Revolt. What are they about? Nanomachines and murder. So yeah; get Mental Omega.
Saying “there are way too many World War II games out there” is like saying “the sun is hot.” True, many a developer has tried to take on representing one of the world’s most horrific stretches of time over the years. And when game studios aren’t the ones doing it, it’s would-be mod makers and enthusiasts putting their own WW II spin on their favourite games. Red Alert 2 was no exception.
D-Day – a total conversion of Red Alert 2 and Yuri’s Revenge – is an immense and somewhat fresh take on the second great war. Instead of focusing on just the early to mid 40’s (where all the “action” comes from), they decided to plan out the mod over multiple time periods. Pre-war, early/mid/late war, and post-war missions and equipment unfold as you play the game with any one of its 12 fully-voiced, historically accurate real-world factions. Folks interested in major conflicts throughout history have a massive appreciation for historical accuracy when it comes to equipment and events, and this mod pays heavy attention to that fact. I can’t even begin to explain how massive this mod is right now, nor can I explain how massive it’ll keep getting (it’s still going). The only downside I can think of is that there still aren’t any naval units, but that won’t be the case for long… Anyway, get your hands on D-Day now.
Not every mod out there is meant to add a metric tonne of new units and buildings. Similarly, not every mod out there is meant to reinvent the wheel. Some mods exist solely to offer seemingly more subtle changes to the game’s already (extremely) enjoyable base vision as it is. Scorched Earth is one of these mods.
This is a mod for somebody who wants to experience Red Alert 2 and/or Yuri’s revenge with a bit more of a challenge. The AI for singleplayer and skirmish has been radically overhauled to be as unforgiving and methodical as possible. And although it doesn’t add a whole hell of a lot of new goodies to play with, it does add a fair few rebalances and additions here and there for every faction out there. This is a mod that plays on the game’s economy, map layout, AI challenge, and overall approach to problem-solving. If you were used to being a defensive turtle and playing wars of attrition with the AI in the past, Scorched Earth will force you to be more active, more aggressive, and ultimately, better at strategy. Check out Scorched Earth here.
You’ll find a fair number of balance mods for Red Alert 2 and Yuri’s Revenge. The most notable of which would have to be CannisRules. But with each new iteration into the world of rebalance, so too do their offerings Beowulf’s Rules is perhaps the most fleshed-out rebalance to the base game to date.
One of the bigger issues with the different countries under each of the game’s two main factions in skirmish was that they never really had an edge over the other. Worse yet, the allied countries overall would easily find themselves beating similarly powered Soviet armies due to an imbalance in unit performance. Beowulf’s Rules work on each and every unit from top to bottom to make sure that isn’t the case anymore. Each country, each army, and each unit has a marked advantage over many others, and an even more marked disadvantage against other in subtle ways. It does add a fair bit of new units and content, but it’s much more about enhancement rather than addition. Grab it here.
This one’s a bit too niche to fall under the rest, but still pretty valuable as an experience of its own. For those of you familiar with the grimdark world of eternal warfare and sadness that is the Warhammer 40K universe, this is essentially a mod that brings Space Marines, Chaos Marines, and National Guard into the world of Red Alert 2.
The models, for what they are and for the technology involved, are pretty well-done and polished. The animations, sound effects, maps, and overall experience is essentially as outlandish and hilariously fun as basic Red Alert 2. Except instead of using regular soldiers and tanks, you’re playing with basic infantry the size of tanks, tanks the size of buildings, and buildings that are way too small to produce all that kind of power. Honestly, if you want a true Warhammer 40K experience, get Dawn of War with the Ultimate Apocalypse mod. But for those of us without that much power in their PC, this is a pretty great fit. Try it out over here.