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Video Game: Command & Conquer: Red Alert

Assistant: Did you find him?
Einstein: Hitler is... out of the way.
Assistant: Congratulations, professor! With Hitler removed-
Einstein: Time will tell. Sooner or later... time will tell...
Red Alert's intro

Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: The Game

The first game in the Red Alert series, a spin-off of the original Command & Conquer, using the same engine and gameplay as the Tiberium saga to tell a story of an Alternate History WWII fought between the Allies and, Tesla-powered communists bent on world domination. Red Alert provides a contrast with its successor thanks to a serious and camp-free tone. Released by Westwood Studios in 1996 for DOS and Windows (SVGA) platforms.

The premise is simple: in 1946, operating out of a laboratory in Trinity, New Mexico, Albert Einstein uses a time machine to travel to Landsberg, Germany in 1924 and removes Adolf Hitler from history. While this prevents the Nazis from rising to power and keeps Germany docile, unfortunately it leaves Josef Stalin with no obstacle to the Soviet Union’s expansion. This sparks an even worse version of World War II during the 1950's as the Allies try to withstand the endless hordes of the Red Army, backed by deadly Tesla-based technology. But thanks to Einstein’s chronosphere and one nameless European commander, the Soviets are defeated.

The game is now freeware and can be downloaded here.

Please note that this page is for tropes specific to this game, the first Red Alert and its expansions. Please add tropes relating to multiple games to the Red Alert series page.


This game provides examples of:

  • Action Bomb: M.A.D. Tanks in Aftermath
  • Action Girl: Tanya
  • All Theories Are True: The Red Alert series uses Tesla coils in ways that were once thought possible.
  • Alternate History: Red Alert being the result of Hitler's removal from the timeline. Furthermore, the game used to be a prequel to the Tiberium series, before more time travel threw in further alternate timelines.
  • Anachronism Stew: Although the game is set in the 1950s and features characters like Stalin and Einstein, it also features modern and even futuristic military technology.
  • America Wins the War: A very notable aversion (especially given the game was made by Americans), with most of the Allied cast being European and it not being entirely clear for a while whether the USA is even in the war. The Allied ending features a soldier who definitely has an American accent, so it's likely that America did join in on the war effort, although just how much is not known.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: Stalin (to whom the phrase is commonly credited, apocryphally) throws this line out there in the first Red Alert. It can also be heard in the remixed "Radio 2" song which is included in the CD of Counterstrike and Aftermath.
  • Artistic License – Geography: The mission where you massacre Toruń and the FMV that follows it show a small settlement in the mountains. Trouble is, Toruń lies on the shores of the Vistula river, in the northern plains of Poland. Looks like Westwood couldn't get its Poland right for two games in a row.
  • Artistic License – History:
    • All of the countries in Europe are shown with post-World War II borders, but with the war having been averted due to Einstein's time travel, Europe should have the post-1918 borders (the timelines diverged in 1924). Oddly, a more accurate map was shown in the opening cinematic and one of the early trailers. Probably just a case of Westwood not paying enough attention to detail.
    • The existence of the United Nations is mentioned in one of the mission briefings, but in real life the U.N. was formed directly as a result of World War II, which didn't happen in this timeline. The impotent, abortive League of Nations was the primary body of international diplomacy after World War I, and did not dissolve in our history until 1946 (at which time the United Nations had already replaced it). That said, it's likely a relic of a time when the game was intended to be the prequel to Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn.
    • Prior to World War II, Stalin's purges devastated the Red Army's senior officer corps, particularly the highest ranking officers—sacking or arresting 18,000 officers (including 6,000 replacements from the initial purge), including 3 of 5 marshals, 13 of 15 army generals, 8 of 9 admirals, 50 of 57 army corps generals, 154 out of 186 division generals, all 16 army commissars, and 25 of 28 army corps commissars. As a result of poor equipment, poor organization and several thousand veteran officers arrested or executed, the Red Army was in no condition to invade and conquer continental Europe.
  • Awesome but Impractical: Unfortunately a lot of the cooler units aren't very useful in gameplay. For example, the Mammoth Tank is expensive, too slow to dodge enemy fire or move around quickly enough to establish map control. Shock troopers are another cool unit that is very expensive and can easily be overwhelmed by cheap basic infantry. The list goes on.
  • Bald of Evil: Kane
  • Berserk Button: The invasion and destruction of his home country of Greece makes Stavros get a bit tense.
  • Biblical Bad Guy: The first Red Alert game is where it's first implied that Kane is actually the Biblical Cain.
    Nadia: "And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord... and took up residence... in the Land of Nod!"
  • Bug War: There is a hidden campaign that pits you against Giant Ants.
  • Continuity Nod: Kane features as one of Stalin's advisors. Though if you watch the body language and finish the game, it's quite obvious he's the real power behind them.
  • Creator Cameo: The game's music composer Frank Klepacki appeared as a guard in one of the cutscenes before he was choked and carried away by the spy (played by the game's cutscene director himself). Also, in the briefing of the final Allies mission, many of the game devs appear.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Infantry at one HP? Medic to the rescue. Vehicle almost about to explode? Mechanics and Repair Bays for the save. Averted in that vehicles with low health move slower and damaged buildings produce energy or units less efficiently.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: All superweapons are implied to be much more potent than their in-game usefulness (or uselessness) might suggest.
  • Day of the Jackboot: London and specifically Buckingham Palace is occupied in the Soviet Ending.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: Riflemen spam.
  • Dummied Out:
    • An interesting variation. Some units were originally intended for the other side and later switched. The manual identifies the Radar Jammer as a Soviet unit, while in the final game it's an Allied one. The launch animation of the GPS Satellite shows a graphic of a Soviet Soyuz rocket, suggesting it was meant to be a Soviet ability and later switched to an Allied one.
    • A particularly weird one is that the Tesla Tank in The Aftermath expansion pack is based on the sprite for the Radar Jammer, and still works as a radar jammer, the original code having apparently been left in.
    • Despite being unarmed in the actual game, the spy still has a few animation frames which show him shooting a gun. The funny thing is, those frames are actually tied into the game, which gives you an opportunity to modify rules.ini so your spies can shoot and experience no graphical goofs with that.
  • Fission Mailed: You have to capture the Chronosphere for Stalin, but it is blown up by the allied before you can capture it. Then you are ordered to be shot. Then the blame is (accurately) pinned on someone else and you're reinstated. Due to a level-design bug it is even possible to actually capture it, by making it invulnerable with the iron curtain (that also works on enemy buildings) before the explosive detonates. Then you can capture it with your engineers, but get a real "Mission Failed" for going Off the Rails.
  • Fog of War: Removed permanently from a zone after it is explored. The Allies can launch a GPS to reveal the whole map and their spies can reset the enemy's maps. If you want to complicate things a little bit, there's even an option in multiplayer to allow the fog of war to regrow.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: General Carville is pretty much one of the few things that ties Red Alert with its' sequel, although that's if you've seen the Retaliation expansion pack. For the first PlayStation.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Red Alert actually tried to play the series premise entirely straight, with subtle performances and writing. Afterwards, Executive Meddling caused the rest of the series to devolve into high Camp pretty much immediately.
  • Empathy Doll Shot: Right at the start of the Soviet campaign, as the Soviet air force strafes fleeing villagers. You gave the orders.
  • Expansion Pack:
    • Two. The first, Counterstrike, just adds additional missions, but the second, Aftermath, adds both missions and units which can be used in skirmish. Both also add extra skirmish maps.
    • And then both those expansions get combined into one, released exclusively for PlayStation, which is called Retaliation. If you forget about the new FMVs, remixed songs and less linear mission selection system, it's not quite different from both DOS versions of Counterstrike and Aftermath, as well as the actual Red Alert for the PS.
    • Red Alert itself started as an expansion pack to Tiberian Dawn, hence the many similarities and expys, but Westwood soon realized its potential as a standalone game.
  • Faction Calculus: The Soviets are Powerhouse, the Allies are Subversive. A neat reversal of Tiberian Dawn as far as good and evil sides (by most definitions) are concerned, and about the only C&C game where the good guys are Subversive.
  • Heroic BSOD: Stravros suffers this as his home, Greece, falls into the vile clutches of the Soviet Union.
  • Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: Nice Job Breaking It, Einstein.
  • I Am the Trope: At the end of the Red Alert 1 Soviet campaign, we get this exchange (they're talking to the player character).
    Nadia: "Fight our battles where you must, and you will remain our loyal, and obedient servant. For the foreseeable future."
    *Gunshot, Nadia falls over forward*
    Kane: "The foreseeable future...? Comrade chairman, I am the future."
    *Fade to black*
  • Karmic Death: Delivered nicely in the Allied ending onto Joseph Stalin by none other than Stravros, whose country Stalin destroyed in the war. Stalin gets to die alone and in darkness thanks to Stavros ordering away the troopers who found Stalin, putting a cloth in his mouth to keep him from screaming for help, and putting rubble over his face to hide him from discovery.
  • Kick the Dog: The briefing of the first Soviet mission opens with Stalin and two other Soviet leaders discussing the testing of a new nerve gas on a few hundred innocent civilians before turning to you. Then you are assigned your first mission: killing the inhabitants of Toruń, Poland by strafing them with fighter planes.
  • Kill 'em All: The Soviet campaign ends like this, with everyone you meet dying in a convoluted series of back stabs and paranoia. Well, everyone except the adviser that is.
  • Klingon Promotion: Nadia poisons Stalin at the end of the Soviet campaign. Her promotion doesn't last long.
  • Leave No Survivors:
    Gradenko: Let's see how you handle this. Go at once to Torun, destroy everything and everyone. No prisoners, no survivors. That is all.
  • Let no Crisis Go to Waste: In the Soviet victory scenario in the first game, the entire Russian war effort was an Evil Plan by Kane to expand the USSR, then topple it, and use the ensuing chaos to strengthen the Brotherhood of Nod.
  • Meaningful Echo: Stalin comments on how excellent the tea is and Nadia comments that she made it herself. She said the exact same thing when she killed Marshal Gradenko. Both cups were poisoned.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Einstein travels back in time and erases Hitler from the timestream in an attempt to prevent World War II. But World War II happens anyway when Stalin decides to expand his empire by launching a massive invasion of western Europe. Oops.
  • Not Completely Useless: The Soviet mission "Deus Ex Machina" in the Aftermath expansion pack is an attempt to rescue Cyborg/Volkov, who has been captured by the Allies. Unfortunately, once you do find him, he has gone berserk and is on a rampage to destroy everything in sight. He is Made of Indestructium: unless you've got something along the lines of dozens of Mammoth Tanks & V2 Rocket Launchers, you won't be able to stop him. Unless you build a Kennel and throw a bunch of Attack Dogs at him. When's the last time you bothered to use an Attack Dog on anything?
  • Nuke 'em: Employed by the Soviets in the Allied campaign. As the Allies turn the tide of the war and are steadily advancing across Europe into the Soviet Union, Stalin decides to destroy the primary capitals and cities of the European Allies with the nuclear weapons his scientists have recently developed, while using his own forces as a sacrificial lamb to draw attention away from the missile sites. The player has to capture and then infiltrate the facility to safely disarm the weapons.
  • Palette Swap: Many units are directly imported from Tiberian Dawn and given a paint job; notably the Allied tanks are the Medium and Light models from the previous game. The Soviet heavy tank is the Medium one with an added gun and the super heavy tank is GDI's Mammoth and uses the same name.
  • Piggybacking on Hitler: Kane is doing this with Stalin.
  • Reinventing the Wheel: Every time the Allies launch a GPS Satellite, it "somehow" becomes lost after the mission and a new one has to be launched for the Next Mission. Either the Satellite was specifically built to only work for the current mission area that you're in OR the people in the Allied Spaced Program "somehow forget" the Satellite after you complete the mission.
  • Schizo Tech: The technology is all over the place, with assault rifles from '49, helicopters from '72, and GPS mounted on Sputnik-like satellites. On a general scale, the tech level is that of 'Nam.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Power plants look suspiciously like Battersea Power Station.
    • Kane is very fond of Orwell's 1984: "He who controls the past, commands the future". The quote was also paraphrased in Dune II, the spiritual predecessor of C&C.
    • The PlayStation version includes a cheat that turns all the gems and ore into civilians, with a corresponding quote (which might also be a poke on the Tiberium Saga):
    "SOYLENT GREEN IS PEOPLE!"
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness Versus Seriousness: Compared to its two sequels in the series, this game retains the most serious tone.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Both factions have only one female character each, with Allies having Tanya Adams and Nadya Zelenkova representing the Soviets. Sure thing, this trope wouldn't even be mentioned due to the game's military nature, but when the female cast became bigger and bigger in the sequels...
  • Spiteful A.I.: The computer will sell off all of its structures and send everything at you when it becomes too badly damaged to continue rebuilding and unit production.
  • Spreading Disaster Map Graphic: Some game over cinematics following defeat during an Allied mission will show the red of the Soviet Union submerging the entire European continent as parading soldiers can be heard in the background.
  • State Sec: The NKVD. In the manual, their troops alone number 7 million at the beginning of the war. Compare that to the Allies, whose regular and irregular forces number about 5 million total.
  • Take Over the World: Downplayed, as the Soviets' goal is somewhat more modest than taking over the entire world. It is Stalin's objective to submerge all of Europe into the Soviet Union. In the Soviet campaign, you succeed.
    Stalin: Where the Romans have failed I will succeed. Russia's borders will stretch from coast to coast; for a united Russia is our destiny.
  • Taps: If Tanya is killed in one of her missions, a cutscene will play of her white cross in a cemetery as Taps is heard in the background.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink:
    • At the end of the Soviet campaign, Nadia successfully kills Joseph Stalin by tricking him into drinking a poisoned cup of tea.
    • At an earlier point in the campaign, Marshal Gradenko is killed by the same person in the same way. It even features the same dialogue.
  • Visionary Villain: Joseph Stalin believes that it is his sacred mission to make the Soviet Union stretch the entire European continent, launching a war that lasts years and leaves tens of millions dead. He was inspired after he witnessed himself as Europe's sole ruler in a dream.
  • You Are in Command Now: In the Soviet ending, the player character becomes the leader of the Soviet Union after a series of betrayals and assassinations leave all other high-ranking Soviet government officials dead.
  • You Didn't See That: Stavros invokes this trope in the Allied ending, though it takes a repetition or two before the soldier to whom he's speaking gets his drift.
    Stavros: "I don't believe you heard me, private. I don't see anyone here... do you?"
  • You Have Failed Me: Stalin warns the player "If you fail, do not return", and later snaps an underling's neck for faulty intelligence ("You disappoint me, Kukov"). This was just after he ordered you executed, before being convinced that it was the underling's fault, not yours.


Black-Out de base and nothing will stop you.

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alternative title(s): Command And Conquer Red Alert
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