Quick! Call Miss Cleo!
I went home this past weekend, and everything seemed nice...too nice. Mom was cooking and my little brother was watching TV. But to my horror, I discovered that Mom wasn't baking brownies, but cloning hordes and hordes of super-hulk soldiers! And my bro wasn't glued to the A-Team or Fox's Porn for Kids, but to the image of a man with tubes stuck into his head, spouting rhetoric like "Vote for President Bush" and "Friends is high-quality television." Oh dear lord.
Apparently, after the Allies whipped the Soviets, Yuri escaped and managed to build tons of Psychic Dominators all over the world. Yikes! Just as he's about to flip the switch and reduce cities to rubble and their inhabitants to mindless slaves, your forces step in, jack Yuri's plan, and jump back in time to try and lay the smack down before the crap even gets thrown at the fan.
Welcome to Yuri's Revenge, the first official expansion to the excellent C&C Red Alert 2. But don't let that 'expansion' word fool you; there's a lot more going on here than just more missions. Suffice it to say that if you own RA2, you should own Yuri.
The main new feature in Yuri's Revenge is, well, Yuri and his army of ne'er-do-wells. In the new single player campaigns, you get to control either the Allies or the Soviets, but sadly there're no campaigns for Yuri's army. You do get to use Yuri in Multiplayer and skirmishes, but that still doesn't make up for the fact that the most over-the-top force in Red Alert history doesn't have a single player campaign to go with it.
Instead, Yuri is constantly your adversary throughout the single-player campaigns, along with whomever he dominates into helping with his psycho war effort.
Yuri's forces can be extremely tricky since they rely on subversion rather than brute force (although they've got plenty of that, too), and require extremely coordinated attacks to avoid having your forces turn against you. In other words, that tank rush tactic you used to kick ass with might not be so handy anymore. Unfortunately, most of Yuri's forces rely on short-ranged attacks and are highly vulnerable to things like Soviet rocket launchers and Allied prism technology.
In any case, Yuri's forces joyously complicate the intricate strategic circle of unit strengths and weaknesses. For example, guard dogs and terror drones take on an all new significance, as they're immune to a portion of Yuri's arsenal. However, Yuri also has viral soldiers, flying saucers, hulks, magnetrons and gattling technology to answer any questions the Allies and Soviets might try to fire at him.
The gattling technology is a mixed blessing. Gattling tanks start off with a slow fire rate and accelerate to high-speed destruction. The problem is, every time a gattler kills an enemy, it has to start off at square one with the next target. Sure, they hit hard after awhile, but they don't even come close to the firepower harnessed by prism towers or tesla-coils.
On the other hand, Yuri's forces get flying saucers, which have to be one of the coolest additions to the entire Red Alert series. Their firepower is decent and their range is better than average, and if you put one over an enemy generator, it turns off the power. Plus, THEY'RE FLYING SAUCERS! They're the ultimate in psychological domination (they're quite cool looking) and they dish out photon death, leaving their victims green and glowing, Mars Attacks style.
The Allies' new units are kinda weak. They include the battle fortress (a big APC that doesn't dish out as much damage as you'd hope and moves pretty slowly), the guardian GI's (overpriced surface to air rocket guys who move slower than any other unit in the game), the commando (Tanya, pretty much), and the robot tank, which can't be mentally dominated, but is dependent on your base having power (you see the usefulness of flying saucers now?).
The Soviets' new units are cooler but pretty sparse. The spy-plane is useless (you can't kill an enemy by taking pictures of them) and the battle bunker is less useful than a gas station for garrisoning troops. However, the new Boris unit's ability to call down airstrikes is helpful and the Siege Chopper is just a handy unit. It's strong in the air against airborne targets and when deployed turns into a nicely ranged cannon.
As always, the cut-scene dramas are top notch and add to a cool story. The Soviets are still ugly (except for Lieutenant Eva... rrrowwrrr), the Americans are still American (mein Wuhrer, I can walk!), and Yuri is still a shockingly creepy villain. The correlation between mission objectives and story line is consistent, and there's usually an objective that takes advantage of some local landmark. For example, in Seattle you can garrison troops in the Space Needle and get a view of the entire map.
The graphics are the same as always - sharp, crisp sprites rule the day, though the whole thing still looks a bit dated. There are a few glitches when air-units attempt to fly over buildings. The game takes some weird prolonged pauses every once in awhile, which usually correspond to the completion of an objective or completion of a new structure, and are mildly irritating.
The load times, however, are pretty bad. It takes at least a minute and a half for a map to load, and if you try new tactics a lot (like I do) and they fail, you'll be staring at the loading screen more than you'd like.
The multiplayer aspect of Yuri's Revenge has been improved via a better online interface, ten new co-op missions, the ability to have six players on a map at once, and...(drumroll please)...the ability to play as Yuri's army! While Yuri isn't quite the safest bet to take into a multiplayer match, he does represent a new discipline to be mastered, and some of the coolest units in Red Alert history.
Yuri's Revenge is a fantastic expansion pack and is absolutely worth your time if you're a C&C fan. The paper-rock-scissors effect has never been so intricately factored into the units, the missions are interesting, and all your favorite actors (from Udo Kier to Ray Wise) are back to make Yuri's some of the sweetest revenge ever.