Red Alert Free

Do you see what I did there? Because ‘free’ rhymes with ‘three’ and… I’m so sorry. It was either that or an ‘In Soviet Russia, retro RTS downloads you’ gag.

Yes, the original Command & Conquer: Red Alert is now available for no-pennies, to promote the upcoming RA3 and to celebrate today marking 13 years of C&C all-told. Which seems an odd birthday to make a fuss over, but hey, keep it up. Let’s have C&C3 for free next year, eh?

I happened to replay RA recently, and though the missions suffer for their age and interface, I was surprised by how good the cutscenes are. While they’re reliably cheap as all hell, they’re less camp and trashy than anything in the Tiberium series (and indeed RA 2/3). The game shoots for serious and grim, rather than the sci-fi pratfalls that came later, and often pulls it off – Stalin especially is realised as a genuinely unsettling character, not the bellowing nutter that would have been the easy depiction. I’m pretty sure sillier was the sensible way to go in order to keep the series so long-running – and God knows we get enough other straight-laced alterna-history RTSes these days – but it’s fascinating to see how tonally different the starting point was.

Oh, extra – if you preorder RA3, you get RA2 for free too.

Thanks, Diogo.


  1. Dolphan says:

    Damn, my purchase of Command and Conquer: The First Decade 6 months ago is rendered worthless. Entirely worthless.

  2. Gap Gen says:

    Nah, you still got Renegade.

  3. Radiant says:

    “Nah, you still got Renegade.”
    As the man said… worthless!

  4. Kazz says:

    Perfect timing for a wet and crappy sunday afternoon :)

  5. Heliocentric says:

    ‘gade was the hotness. As was ra2 but I’m not all that hyped for ra3, i think its still generals with armoured bears to me.

    Anyway, relic have had my heart for rts since homeworld. And i like what massive have been doing since ground control. But the ra3 team starts with generals, is their really a place in the world for resource harvesters and base building? I hope this is good.

  6. James G says:


    I had the first Red Alert game on the playstation, and have fond memories of playing link-up late night sessions of Red Alert at a friends house. A group of five of us split into two teams and set the cable running through the serving hatch between the kitchen and sitting room. Much cheating and underage drinking of cheap (And with hindsight stupidly weak) alcohol abounded. Good times.

  7. Cradok says:

    RA3 doesn’t really have proper harvesters. Resources are more like Warcraft mines now, and you can plonk your refineries down next to one, and the harvester just has to travel the same ten feet over and over for eternity…

  8. Real Horrorshow says:

    No worky in Vistie, no downloadie from Horrie.

  9. Mark-P says:

    I think the original RA struck an excellent balance between the ridiculous and the plausible and I wish the sequels had kept it.

    My favourite cutscene from memory – the poisoned Soviet officer who, rather than collapse on the floor, decides to climb up and writhe around on the briefing table before expiring. Glorious overacting.

  10. Radiant says:

    The included patch is a lie.
    I can only run this on xp in screen wonkifying compatibility mode!
    *sharpens knife*
    My internet lethargy demands you to fix this!

  11. Talorc says:

    I guess you don’t get the two expansions as well then? Not that I am complaining about the freeness – I never played Red Alert, but was a big fan of the original Command & Conquer (also now free!) so this should be fun.

    Do you miss much from the expansion packs?

  12. suchchoices says:

    thank you rps link-gods

  13. James G says:

    Oh arse, I didn’t notice the no-Vista worky thing until after I download 1000MB of rar! Oh well, I’m sure I’ll be able to sort it somehow.

  14. Cradok says:

    Counterstrike and Aftermath were just collections of single missions. CS wasn’t that great, the missions weren’t balanced well for the most part, and the ‘new’ units were just old ones that had had new properties applied. Aftermath was much better, and featured actual new units, a lot of which would show up again in RA2, like Tesla troops and the MAD tank.

  15. Martin Kingsley says:

    Time vill tell.

    Shooner horr lay-ter, time vill tell.

    *fiddles with his pocket-watch*

  16. Nimic says:

    I liked C&C better than Red Alert, but I still loved Red Alert. I’m also very fond of Tiberian Sun, which for some reason has a lot of people disliking it. Generals was utter crap.

  17. brog says:

    “This software is not supported by Windows Vista, however there are community driven strategies and tips available for making the software function on Vista which you can find on our various fan-sites.”

    There are strategies and tips available.
    However, they do not work.
    Way to ruin my afternoon, thanks.

  18. Steelfist says:

    Damn you EA!
    The patch doesn’t work, I can patch it up to 1.07, but the 1.08 one won’t work.
    So when I click the shortcut in the start menu, it loads on windows media player classic…

  19. lukasz says:

    Holy Crap.
    I love RA. it is last RTS i truly played. It was great and awesome.


  20. Mike says:

    I think this was the best one they made, all told. With the exception of Generals, maybe, all of the others just seemed… too fluffy. After this, they went all Quake 3 and started carving their gameplay out of marshmallow.

    Looking forward to playing this again.

  21. Hmm-hmm. says:

    Funny. I’m far more interested in the original Red Alert than I am in the upcoming game.

    As a mac gamer, I never got to play Red Alert (unlike C&C).

  22. ysbreker says:

    Pilfered this from the shacknews comments. maybe this’ll work for you vista people:

    Here is how to instal it.

    First put the RA CD on first CD/DVD drive.
    1) On RA CD, there are folder named SETUP and there are dos version of the installer, install.exe. Launch it.
    2) It’ll start and then ask for sound card, I selected none.
    3) Then it asks where to install. C:\WESTWOOD\RA
    4) Files copied….
    5) After install go to where you installed it.

    Download 1.08 patch. link to Copy the file to RA folder, doubleclick it. Then use extracted PATCH.EXE to patch it.

    7) Copy the patch file (“ra108usp.exe”) to your RA folder (“c:\westwood\redalert”).
    8) Doubleclick the patch file to start file extracting.
    9) Now, on the folder there should be file named “patch.exe”. Doubleclick it.
    10) Wait while it patches RA. Dos screen will appear for while. Let it finish.
    11) Now you have patched the game, create shortcut for file named “RA95.exe”. Rightclick the shortcut and select Properties. Click Compatiblity tab. Apply following compatiblity settings to shortcut: Windows 95, 256 colors, 640×480, Disable themes and turn off advanced text services.
    12) Done, launch the game by using this shortcut.

  23. RichPowers says:

    They should also release Red Alert 2 for free as well. Mindless, but incredibly fun. RA3 looks like RA2 if it were made by a consortium of manga geeks and pro wrestling fans…

  24. roBurky says:

    The iso part of the download is corrupted every time I download it with firefox.

    Which saddens me slightly. I never did finish either of the RA campaigns when I was little.

  25. RaFannie says:

    Does the cutscene stutter in this version?

  26. ascagnel says:

    Any word on the DOS version of C&C:RA being included? I have a MacBook as my laptop, and being able to run this in Boxer (port of DosBox) would be killer awesome.

  27. Radiant says:

    Red Alert Dos version is included.

  28. Bobsy says:

    How appropriate, we can make-believe war between America and Russia, just as actual war between America and Russia is looming on the horizon.

    Of course, if the South Ossetia conflict turns out to be a massive PR stunt by EA, there’s going to be a lot of stern faces in the Hague.

  29. LionsPhil says:

    If C&C4 has them putting up C&C2 for free, I’m expecting some interesting retrospectives on it. TibSun got a lot of (well-deserved) kicking when released, but I finally played through Firestorm recently, and—you know what?—the single-player campaigns are actually bloody good.

    Not least as they don’t have those stupid hunter-killer drones from MP/Skirmish, which would always target your construction yard, but your enemy’s lone infantryman standing in a forgotten corner. Grr. Random death is a bug, Westwood, not a feature.

    But the terrain is deformable and actually matters, there’s some Ground-Control-ish, C&C-commando-ish baseless missions which are surprisingly open and tactical, there are some neat indirect units (e.g. limpet mines; mobile stealth that needs deploying, thereby requiring careful chaining; subterrainian APCs), and the tiberium/vinehole hazard dynamics are great. None of which SupCom can claim.

  30. Gap Gen says:

    Yeah, Tib Sun was OK, but the plot was non-existent. They spent a lot of money making disjointed cutscenes with no real direction. Would have probably cost them peanuts to hire a writer to put the plot together for them, but never mind.

  31. LionsPhil says:

    Oh, the TibSun cutscenes were dire—a load of professional actors hamming it up to truly awful scripts. Seeing the same in C&C3 is one of the reasons I never went past Generals: Zero Hour.

    I actually think the C&C1 FMV was some of the best. They didn’t overact so hard, and it had Kane without plastic facemasks.

  32. Chis says:

    For ANYONE trying to download this or other large files using Firefox, use Downthemall. It’s a good addon download manager, with PROPER resuming (don’t say cancel for this though, always use pause).

  33. Marius says:

    The “giving Red Alert 2 if you preorder Red Alert 3” part is wrong.

    If you preorder from the link on the EA website (takes you to GameStop), you only get Red Alert 3.

    I contacted GameStop, and the reply was that this is only an EA promotion.

  34. Thor says:

    And who cut off Kane from the picture above? As he said in the Red Alert Soviet outro: “I am the future”

  35. Larington says:

    I’m still really fond of the characterisation of Nadia in this, perhaps because I so definately would if presented the opportunity.
    The woman characters in RA3 are nothing compared to her, except maybe Zhana (One of your russian co-commanders).