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Red Alert 3: Ultimate Edition

Or rather Red Later 3.

Or rather Red Later 3. Still, here it is on PS3 at last, but don't be angry - you should embrace this. And not least because of the bevvy of foxy ladies in uniform...

Command & Conquer Red Alert 3 is, to put it mildly, a massive turn up for the books. See, less than six months ago PSW were firmly told by EA, its publisher, that it was dumping the PS3 release because it wasn't up to scratch. And yet here I am, barely a few months after the Xbox 360 release, playing the PS3 version. Know what the best thing is? Not only is it here, it's very much up to scratch.

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Resurrected code
Before I even clapped eyes on PS3 code, EA was making very appealing noises about how the resurrected version of the game would appear, noises that would make me totally forget the worry that I wouldn't even see it. Really, this is Red Alert 3 Ultimate Edition, so called because EA has rammed a bundle of extras on to the Blu-ray disc.

EA is saying sorry you had to wait. It's like a restaurant manager knocking all the booze off your bill because you had to hang around for your steak. Except EA is going: "Here, have a high-def video of all those gorgeous lasses we put in the game," which is almost as good as free booze.

As well as assorted developer diaries, outtakes videos and other goodies to sweeten the deal, there will also be a number of maps available via the PlayStation Store right from the off. The first one's even free. When this much effort is gone to with a port arriving a little later, it really puts other tardy games to shame. BioShock, I'm looking at you. You were late - where were your compensatory gifts?

Not only that, but Red Alert 3 actually looks just a tiny bit better on PS3. It's a bit pissy getting on the 'my console's better than yours' bandwagon, but the extra development time has obviously been put to good use. There's not a great deal of difference between the two, but the water effects in particular are lovely. Most of the campaign levels here feature a significant portion of water, and that's a constant reminder to PS3 gamers that they're playing the superior version of the game. Full marks there EA for a job well done.

Squad management
If you've played a Command & Conquer game before, you'll know roughly what to expect. The fundamentals are the same. You command a force around a map, destroying enemy units, with asset management thrown into the mix for good measure. That's it, broadly speaking. Mind you, it's been a good few years since we last saw C&C on a PlayStation console. This is like a regular unassuming kid being packed off to university and coming back with crusty dreads and tie-dyed cargo pants years later.

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At first glance I barely recognised it. It's camper, cheesier and a painful jolt to the retinas. In fact, it looks much like EA's behemoth Sims games now. Levels are populated with dinky, colourful buildings, fairground rides, bright blue waterways, trees of various striking autumnal tones. It's a bit of an assault on the eyes. It might be a good idea to turn the colour on your TV down a bit at first, or until you get used to how everything looks.

Really, the overt brightness of the game is more than an aesthetic gripe. Add into this the potentially barf-inducing mix of the equally eye-catching units under your command and it's mighty tricky to actually see your units, enemy units, bases and objectives clearly, especially when there's a full complement of units on screen vying for your attention. The snowier levels therefore come as some degree of relief, as it's so much easier to see everything clearly against a stark, white background.

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