In Command & Conquer: Red Alert (1996), Albert Einstein travels back in time and kills Adolf Hitler. He prevents the emergence of Nazi Germany, but this clears the way for a Soviet invasion of Europe in 1946.
The Soviets are defeated, but they get their revenge three decades later in Red Alert 2 (2000) by attacking the continental United States.
In the third game (2008), it are the Soviets who travel back in time to prevent their defeat at the hand of the Allies. Their trip has unforeseen consequences as well: they inadvertently create a more powerful Japan and trigger a three-way world war.
Throughout these games we get to play with some crazy diesel- and atompunk weapons, from the Soviets’ mighty Apocalypse Tank to Tesla Troopers.
The Tesla Tank appears in all three Red Alert games and weaponizes the Tesla Coil, which will surely be familiar to steam- and dieselpunk enthusiasts. It was invented by Nikola Tesla in the late nineteenth century.
In the original Red Alert, the Tesla Tank looks more like an armored truck with a Tesla Coil mounted on top of it. It wasn’t much to look at, but things improved in Red Alert 2. Its Tesla Tank uses a fully tracked chassis with two turret-mounted Tesla Coils. The lightning bolts can pass over obstacles like walls and are effective against infantry, but less so against other tanks. The Red Alert 3 version is similar.
Like the tank, these soldiers are equipped with Tesla technology. Tesla Troopers wear a sealed, insulated combat uniform with a Tesla Coil gauntlet that is powered by a miniature generator mounted on their backs. They are best used to defend the player’s base or escort armored columns, because they are most effective against enemy tanks. Unlike other infantry units, Tesla Troopers cannot be crushed by vehicles owing to their powerful armor.
If they’re placed near a Tesla Coil, they will power it up, allowing the coil to act as a defensive turret independent of the base’s power supply.
The Red Alert 3 version is more brutal. The troopers now have a robotic armored suit that comes with its own miniature reactor and onboard targeting computer to ensure the user’s lightning bolts can be thrown with deadly accuracy at infantry and tanks.
In addition, the suit protects the soldier from the biting teeth of dogs and bears. (Yes, bears.)
Their only weakness it that they are slow. You can’t run in those suits!
In Red Alert 2, Desolators are troops from Soviet-allied Iraq that are impervious to nuclear radiation and can irradiate entire areas, blocking enemy forces.
Their abilities are similar in Red Alert 3, but they are given a different backstory. Now Desolators are terminally ill Soviet patients who have been implemented with cybernetic enhancements and are kept alive in monstrous biosuits. Their memories are wiped so they have no recollections of their previous lives.
“Soviet power supreme”! The Apocalypse, which made its debut in Red Alert 2, is one of the most recognizable tanks of the franchise.
Running on a hybrid diesel-nuclear power engine and boasting two forward-facing cannons that can destroy lighter vehicles with a single volley, the Apocalypse was designed to meet any opposition and be the last unit standing on the battlefield.
Its weakness is that it’s slow. A small convey will be destroyed by base defenses before it can reach the enemy. But in one-on-one fights, or in large numbers against an enemy base, it is invincible.
The Iron Curtain is a Soviet superweapon that can temporarily render vehicles and structures invincible to attack.
In the original Red Alert, the Iron Curtain can be used to protect only one vehicle. In the sequel, it can cast its protective shield over a group of units. In Red Alert 3, the technology has become so powerful that infantry units will be killed if they are caught in the radius.
“Bombardiers to your stations!” The pride of Soviet engineering, the Kirov Airship is a flying fortress, laden with tonnes of high explosives. It is the most devastating weapon in the Soviet arsenal and can take down even the toughest (and most expensive) land units with a few bombs.
But it is also excruciatingly slow, which makes it vulnerable to air defenses.
The improved Kirov in Red Alert 3 remedies this shortcoming with “Gastroburner” engines that can give the airship a brief boost in speed.
The quickest way to take down a Kirov is to send up a squadron of Rocketeers. The zeppelin has no air-to-air defenses.
America’s Rocketeers are immune to most ground forces, but they can be shot down easily by enemy air defenses.
The Battle Fortress was introduced in the Red Alert 2 spinoff Yuri’s Revenge (2001).
It is essentially a huge armored mobile bunker with machine guns and firing ports for up to five infantrymen. It is so heavy and large that it can crush most other vehicles, including the Soviets’ mighty Apocalypse, but it is also slow, which means it must be defended by other tanks.
Weather Control Device
America’s superweapon was designed by Albert Einstein to counter the Soviet Union’s nuclear superiority. It manipulates the weather to create a powerful lightning storm that can be targeted at enemy bases. The storm will destroy large structures, kill nearby units and temporarily disable all radar.
Also designed by Einstein, the Chronosphere can be used to travel units back and forward in time. This effectively makes it a teleportation device.
In the Allied campaign in Red Alert 2, the Chronosphere is instrumental in defeating the Soviet Union.
The Chrono Legionnaire uses the same technology as the Chronosphere. It can teleport itself and erase enemies from history.
The legionnaires’ mobile generators are not powerful enough for instant time-shifting, however, which makes them vulnerable. Whenever they teleport, they will need time to rematerialize and won’t be able to defend themselves until they do.
Where the Soviets have Tesla, the Allies have Prism. It projects a single laser beam at the enemy. A bit less powerful, but it powers up faster and has a longer range.
Prism is mounted on both defense towers and tanks. In the final scene of Red Alert 2, Prism Tanks are chronoshifted into Moscow to attack the Kremlin.