Rise of the Reds is a Game Mod for Command & ConquerGenerals Zero:Hour that picks on the events of the original game and presents its own story on what happened afterward. The GLA came back stronger than ever before, the USA went isolationist for the meantime, China managed a near economic take-over of the world before Russia got its industrial power rolling again and fights the ECA (an alliance of European states) on their ground who themselves rebuild their military might as well.It also is quite reminiscent of old C&C games (mostly the Red Alert series). There are attack dogs, Tesla coils, engineers, flamethrower troopers, gun turrets and ships (including long-range artillery cruisers). No war bears, though, and exactly one mecha-type unit with the Venom, in two variants.More information on the mod can be found here and here.
Rise of the Reds provides examples of the following tropes:
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Alphabet News Network: The Americans have SNN (Satellite News Network anyone?), the Europeans have ECAN News (European Communications Agency Network) and the Russians have FFN (Federation Front News). The pro-GLA channel ARC News from Zero Hour made an appearance as well. Averted with South American Bond News and China's SinoNews24.
A.K.A.-47: Pops up with some of the units, although not due to licensing reasons or factual errors, but because proper word-based names are easier to memorise and more interesting than strictly alpha-numeric designations. For example, the Russian Kodiak is actually a modified T-80, the F-22 and F-117 are referred to as Raptors and Nighthawks etc. The story updates and render descriptions do acknowledge this and often refer to vehicles and firearms by their official real-life or in-universe designations alongside the catchy name. For example, the Paladin Tank is actually supposed to be an A4 variant of today's M1A2 Abrams tank.
All There in the Manual: All of the mod's story, gameplay mechanics and features are explained in the news posts which are published on the internet.
Awesome, yet Impractical The super-heavy tanks such as the Overlord, Sentinel and Manticore would realistically be this but they're still quite useful in-game. Lampshaded by Future Warfare host Steve Dawson who points out that a vehicle as sluggish, slow and heavy as this would crush bridges, destroy roads and cost way too much money.
Balkanize Me: Prior to the GLA insurrection, many parts of Europe, including Britain, Ireland, Bavaria, Catalonia and a few others, broke away from the oppressive EU. The Global War on Terror also left an absolute mess in the Middle East, producing a number of bizarre borders which are still disputed in-universe.
Big Badass Battle Sequence: The climactic battle of Kurmuk depicted in the main menu. It's China and the US versus Russia, it's epic as all hell and it smoothly repeats forever. The scripting alone took three weeks.
Black and Grey Morality: In spades. While the GLA are near-exclusively unrepentantly bad (even if ever so slightly justified), everyone else is shown to be in varying shades of grey and with similar degrees of sympathy.
A Lighter Shade Of Gray: The closest the mod has to "good guys", America and the ECA, still have their own skeletons in the closet. The story also draws a clear distinction between the regular Russian military and the irredeemably evil Shock Troop Divisions of General Aleksandr.
The Chinese, like the Russians are treated sympathetically for the most part, although there are hints that they've gotten even more authoritarian and militaristic.
The GLA meanwhile are near-univerially depicted as amoral bastards. Their actions in the non-modded game proper certainly don't support their benevolent side, if they have one to begin with. The one exception were the troops who helped fight Doctor Thrax, because Even Evil Has Standards when the Bad Boss likes to test artificial diseases and other poisons on prisoners in absurdly cruel experiments.
Cruel and Unusual Death: Getting shot up by bullets is probably the least nasty way to go out for the average infantryman. Getting dissolved by toxins, burned in a firestorm, popped by microwaves or disintegrated via Tesla bolt... not so much. As of version 1.7, there is also a lot of splashy gibs.
Even though more house colors are available in skirmish/multiplayer games, every faction looks best with a distinct color: Blue for the USA, red for China, green for the GLA, yellow for the ECA and maroon for Russia.
On another note, the vehicles and buildings themselves have a second set of colors, White and Grey for the USA, Brown and beige for China, sand colors for the GLA, Two-Tone Blue for the ECA and Black and dark grey for Russia.
Continuity Creep: This became quite apparent after the mod's lengthy hiatus which lasted for almost two years. Before this period, updates generally presented brief, self-contained in-universe news reports, documents or personal stories with little overarching direction aside from 'Russia invades Europe for the sake of revenge'. After the project kicked back into full gear, the narrative grew a lot more complex with a clear chronology as well as expository updates which provided reliable story information from an omniscient/retrospective view point.
Continuity Nod: Quite a number are made to the original games, albeit in a different light due to the revisions.
Continuity Porn: Many updates went into great lengths to fill in the numerous plot holes of the original game and there are frequent references to past events within the story itself.
Continuity Reboot: SWR's ROTR is very different from the mod's original incarnation. For one, the Russians actually used to be just generic communists way back in the day and there were no plans for a fifth faction.
To a certain degree, with the Chinese and Russians using updated versions of Cold War-era methods.
Generally speaking, much of the technologies in the game do seem a bit dated for a story that is set in the late 2040s and we don't learn anything about major scientific fields that'd be relevant by then such as genetic engineering, cybernetics or transhumanism. Somewhat justified in that Rise of the Reds is set in a Crapsack World in which The War on Terror escalated into a protracted war that killed millions, caused catastrophic damage to the global economy and damaged especially the Western world to a point where scientific progress was slowed down.
Day of the Jackboot: Israel has caved into fear and turned into a full-blown authoritarian state after a major GLA attack and Greece is apparently ruled by a fascist party which granted the Russians passage through the Aegean Sea out of sheer spite for the ECA.
Death from Above: Artillery, whether of the conventional or missile varieties can rule the battlefield when played right, leveling structures, defenses and ground units alike. On the other hand, they tend to be Glass Cannons and are vulnerable to air strikes. Also, AI won't hesitate to use them against you.
Easter Egg: A few here and there, such as the meme-face variant of the Propaganda Airsip with the Trololo song or the fact many ECA units use Bullet Bills as ammo.
Excuse Plot: SWR Rise of the Reds before 2011 was this.
To elaborate, the USA, ECA, Russia, and China colonize Africa again. The GLA pushes out the Russians, and then the Russians blame the ECA, starting a war. Detailed lore was reserved for battle updates and the occasional look at specific units or weapons.
At first, it seems a little odd that Tank Command General Bradley has a Marine background when the US Army is generally known as the heavier ground branch. It does make sense when you consider that the United States make a late and limited entry in the Russo-European War, not wanting to get caught up in an endless war of attrition. As a result, most of their frontline units in Europe would be Marine Expeditionary Forces which could deploy across the Atlantic much faster than the Army, complete with their own tank units. It is entirely fair to assume that the bulk of the US Army still uses the M 1 A 4 Paladin tank back home as well. The other American Generals add to this too, with Air Force General Griffon providing air support and Army General Thorn coordinating joint special forces operations.
The Russian invasion drives the ECA to the breaking point morally and materially. This is represented by their Manticore, Pandora and Venom units which are hastily being pushed into combat out of sheer necessity as well as their widespread use of neutron bombs, nerve gas, land mines and cluster bombs.
Russia finds itself in severe economic troubles at the start of the war. This is represented by their absurdly expensive vehicles which require a special late-game building in order to become affordable in notable numbers. Just imagine how ludicrously powerful Russia would have been while its economy was still roaring. They could have quite possibly won the war if they had invaded Europe during that time, but then again, their economic demise was their main reason for the war to begin with.
Gunship Rescue: Every faction has at least one unit that can pull these off convincingly.
As of the founding of the ECA, Europe is once again split into east and west by a wall dubbed the Concrete Curtain, although this time, the western countries built it.
China, Russia, America and Europe taking control of large swathes of Africa in order to extract rare resources seems reminiscent of the colonial period.
The Russo-European War begins with a false flag attack much like the German invasion of Poland in World War 2.
One story described the assault of Russian soldiers on the German Reichstag, complete with a modern recreation of the iconic flag photo.
The United States make a late entry into the war after the front line in Europe has degenerated into a bloody stalemate much like in World War 1.
World War 3 starts precisely 100 years after the end of World War 2.
The Olympics are once more held in Berlin, 100 years after the infamous 1936 one.
Hufflepuff House: The South American Pact is an aspiring coalition of Latin American nations but even though it is kind of a big deal in the setting, it only gets a few tangential references in the actual plot. An update series called 'The Stories of Others' also presented a number of countries which are not directly associated with the major factions including Argentina, Canada, Israel, Japan, Korea (now united) and Switzerland.
Ludicrous Gibs: Added in version 1.7 for certain weapon types such as microwaves and high explosives
Moral Dissonance: Applies pretty much to all factions, though some more than others.
Next Gen Fic: Of a sort. The generals from Zero Hour had either retired, been discharged or killed.
Noodle Incident: The mod's story updates have gone into great lengths to explain even the most miniscule one-shot references of the original story: The Mudanjiang disaster in which Tao was involved was about a crashed train full of tactical nuclear shells that he helped recover, the Taiwan Conflict was a show of force in which Fai conquered most of the island before the US showed up, albeit too late to stop Taiwan from being conquered and the Second Korean War was an extended series of border skirmishes which eventually led to the removal of Kim Jong Un at the hands of his own generals.
North Koreans with Nodongs /South Koreans with Marines: The story describes the 'Second Korean War' mentioned in the original Zero Hour fluff as a brief skirmish which resulted in the removal of the Kim regime by its own generals. After the withdrawal of US troops, North Korea launches a second invasion with Chinese support and manages to drive the Southern forces down to the 35th parallel. And then The Cavalry arrived in the form of...
Kaiju Defense Force: ...the Japanese, who became very paranoid after the American retreat. The story explains that the country turned its self-defence forces into an actual military and went as far as enacting a policy of nuclear opacity to deter its continental enemies. After the Korean War, Japan goes into great lengths to improve its relations with the United Republic of Korea, including the 'genuflection of Seoul' by the Japanese Prime Minister, a historical parallel to German Chancellor Willy Brandt's famous genuflection in Warsaw.
The AI in general has been revamped to put up considerably more challenge to the player.
Nuclear Weapons Taboo: In-universe, all factions except the GLA are nuclear powers but only China actually uses their nukes on a regular basis, the ECA deployed theirs as a last resort and the only Russian General with limited access to nuclear missiles is Zhukov. On ther other hand, the GLA are capable of stealing nuclear warheads with Bomb Trucks, turning these suicide units into nuclear suicide units similar to their incarnation in the Red Alert games. The nuclear bomb truck comes in four variants:
Dirty bomb, achieved by stealing any non-specific nuclear material.
Tactical nuclear warhead, by stealing from a Chinese Breeder Reactor or Nuclear Missile.
MIRV warhead, by stealing from a loaded Russian Topol-M or loaded Missile Silo.
Neutron warhead, by stealing from a Pandora or R&D Compound upgraded with the Pandora Protocol.
Obligatory War Crime Scene: All factions can resort to tactics and weapons that'd be regarded as highly controversial or even downright illegal in real life:
The US use microwave weapons which cause people to burn up and explode. They also use lasers to burn, blind and kill infantry which is forbidden by the Geneva convention.
China makes liberal use of napalm, land mines and atomic bombs.
The GLA employs terrorist tactics, suicide attacks and bio-chemical weapons.
The ECA is pushed to the point of using land mines, cluster munitions, neutron bombs and even nerve gas.
Russia's General Aleksandr has his own extensive list of crimes which include mass murder and terror bombings while the entire Russian invasion of Europe can be considered a war of aggression.
Operation Blank: The Americans seem to have a special fondness for these. Their attack on the Russian Navy near the Azores was called 'Operation Blue Trident', General Bradley's Marine landing behind the Russian lines in France was called 'Operation Backbreaker' and the failed assassination of General Aleksandr by Frank Jaeger and the US Navy SEA Ls was dubbed 'Operation Pope's Revenge'. This one seems very random due to Genius Bonus: Jaeger tries to snipe the General from the Berlin television tower, which is known for the iconic golfball-shape of its upper portion. During the Cold War, the Berliners coined the term 'Pope's Revenge' upon noticing that the sun would often produce reflections on the tower that were reminiscent of a Christian cross shining brightly above the capital of the atheistic GDR.
The first wave of European nuclear strikes was dubbed 'Operation Pandora', which is appropriate not only because they used the Pandora cannon but because they "opened the box" of nuclear escalation.
The Russian invasion of Europe is simply referred to as 'Plan Red. The VDV assault on the European space port in French Guiana was dubbed 'Operation Sunscreen' as its goal was to shut down the ECA's Solaris network.
The US and China, though with inverted colors. They are at opposite ends of the spectrum but very much alike as reflected by the love/hate relationship they have in-game.
Simply put, the US and China do not seem to like each other but they often end up cooperating against common enemies. Throughout the 2020s, they join forces against the GLA. In 2033, the US President flat-out claims that 'the once proud peoples of South-East Asia are writhing under the whip of their red Chinese masters' while a mere decade later, they once again team up to curb Russia's expansion in Africa. The operation fails and their ill-fated Pacific Peace Alliance breaks up in disputes but General Thorn still maintains that 'the Chi-Com menace is our best strategic ally' right up to the Russo-European War.
Ripped from the Headlines: Much like the original game, the mod's backstory includes some intentionally topical references and extrapolations to present day issues, like a USA threatened by bankruptcy, an escalating EU crisis and China as the leading superpower.
Rule of Cool: Coolness tends to take precedence over realism. Strangely enough, some of the coolest (figurative or literally) technologies are actually very realistic, among them the Tesla technology (also known as electro-laser), cryo-beam (cooling laser) and fridge-sized nuclear reactors (yes these exist).
Self-Destructive Charge: Applies mostly to the GLA with suicide units and the Scorpion Tank managing to get across several meters when the unit is already dead, possibly managing to bring infantry down with it. Also applies to all foot soldiers in the game since they keep fearlessly advancing even when they are crippled and an inch away from death.
The backstory puts its own spin on certain aspects of the Modern Warfare series. Namely in that an attack by ultranationalists on Moscow's airport was averted in the 2016s, as well as the presence of a General Shepherd Expy in the American side who's not evil. Beyond that, the American Vanguard infantry is basically a walking parody of Call of Duty multiplayer with a powerful shotgun, a vitriolic attitude and three drones that are available as killstreak rewards in the games. Also, the ECA hero, Frank Jaeger, is basically a German Expy of Captain Price.
The American Sentry Drone's official in-universe nickname is Rottweiler, just like the eponymous combat drone from Tom Clancy's End War.
The Chinese Hopper Tank is quite obviously based on the eponymous tank from Metal Slug.
The European Manticore Tank is driven by a blatant Arnold Schwarzenegger parody who even references many iconic lines from his movies to boot.
The populist Hope and Glory Party, which plays a crucial role in Britain's exit from the EU in the 2020s, is an Expy of Norsefire, complete with a Prime Minister called Susan Adams. Unlike Norsefire however, it isn't a fascist organization and is significantly more sensible in its policies and beliefs, including support for the UK's membership in the ECA and an increased cooperation with the Commonwealth.
Russia's hero, Boris Bikov is essentially Boris from Red Alert 2, even reusing his sound clips from the same game.
A Royal Navy battlecruiser by the name HMS Thunderchild seals the deal on the Russian landing in England.
General Griffon's pilot nickname "Guile" is an obvious reference to Street Fighter which is appropriate, given that most of the Generals in this timeline would have grown up in the 1980s and 90s.
An anonymous whistleblower in China calling out the ruling regime's increasingly militarist policies and surveillance work is basically a Race Lift of Edward Snowden. Though in this case, Chinese society in-verse does little to disprove this to the world at large.
The South African security contractor Pieter Coetzee owes his name to Hardy Kruger's character in the late 70s action flick The Wild Geese.
Sigil Spam: Each faction has multiple distinct logos which can be seen on virtually every unit and structure.
Space-Filling Empire: The creation of large, supra-national organisations like the North American Union, the pro-Russian South American Pact, the powerless African Union and the pro-Chinese Greater Asian Peoples Alliance appears like this, although they only make an appearance in the backstory. Played a bit straighter with Russia and China which made some actual territorial gains in-universe.
The European Union (or rather, what it tried to become prior to its collapse) meanwhile is a deconstruction of this trope.
New entries include the Commonwealth (which is really more of a trade bloc than an empire), the Middle Eastern Council, which serves to stabilise and pacify the Middle East after its destruction and the Bangalore Pact, which is a strategic alliance in South Asia to oppose Chinese expansionism. One fan-fiction also introduced a Balkan Confederation which consists of a greater Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria and Romania and serves as a supportive ally to the Russian Federation. All things considered, the supra-national entities of the setting take up a lot of space on the globe, but their individual levels of integration and centralisation are quite diverse.
Standard Hollywood Strafing Procedure: Some air units perform attacks that resemble strafing runs, the most obvious example being the GLA Interceptor which absolutely massacres lines of infantry with its dual 20mm cannons. There's also the American A-10 which sprays the target area with its massivegatling gun, followed by a rocket volley.
The Americans' SNN is a thinly-veiled Expy of CNN and MSNBC, with a few hints of sensationalism and political biases.
ECA-based ECAN is considered by many to be one of the most reliable and neutral news agencies in the world, mirroring the BBC's reputation...although their ties to the ECA military command begs to question just how impartial they are.
SinoNews24 is a Chinese state-run network that tends to serve as propaganda for the Party.
Russia's FFN is apparently Russia Today's successor, with a very apparent pro-Russian, anti-Western bent.
The pro-GLA ARC network seems to serve little other purpose than to glorify their actions.
Strange Bedfellows / Enemy Mine: A common element of the story is that sworn enemies or competitors team up against a greater adversary. This was the main motivation behind the cooperation of America and China against the GLA (and later Russia), Japan's support of South Korea in the war against the DPRK, and the unexpected reconciliation between India and Pakistan during the Global War On Terror.
Swiss with Army Knives: Switzerland, in the face both the EU and the changing political climate nonetheless manages to hold its stride, even succeeding in preventing the GLA's move into the Alps. By the 2040s, the Swiss remain a neutral bulwark, though that doesn't stop them from lending the ECA a hand (the extensive use of fortifications and turrets being based on Swiss designs) and voluntarily stowing away as much of Europe's cultural heritage as possible. It's no coincidence that they're one of the few European states (if not the only one) that escape the mass devastation seen elsewhere across the Continent.
Trade Snark: A meta-example mostly; when people ask for the release date, the answer is commonly "Soon™".
Twenty Minutes into the Future: The revised timeline starts in 2028 with the ending of the Zero Hour expansion while the actual war between Russia and Europe breaks out in 2045.
United Nations Is a Superpower: Subverted to hell and back. The UN has been rendered obsolete by trade blocs and superpowers, lacks any kind of even nominal power and has been reduced to a curiosity in New York.
Useless Useful Stealth: Subverted. Unlike in the original game, base defenses can no longer auto-detect stealth units, necessitating the use of dedicated detector units to reveal hidden enemies which makes them a lot more useable.
War Is Hell: Even though the mod sticks to the colorful, exaggerated look and feel of the original game, the depiction of war in the story tends to be very vicious and brutal. For example:
The seven part mini-series surrounding Orlov's ill-fated deployment to South Sudan contains some rather nightmarish moments.
The failed invasion of the United Kingdom comes across as a Pyrrhic Victory for the British (and ECA in general). The Russians were successfully pushed back, but at the cost of thousands of people dead and a good chunk of the English coastline a war-ravaged wasteland.
The first use of the ECA's neutron weapons in southern France as seen from the perspective of a vehicle crew that happened to be too close to the blast.
Wham Episode:: Several updates contained fundamental changes to gameplay and story direction that came right out of nowhere. This would include the introduction of the GLA air force, the addition of naval units, the ECA resorting to weapons of mass destruction and the unexpected removal of the much beloved Su-25 Frogfoot due to unsolvable design issues. But Wait, There's More! The GLA get a new gameplay mechanic in the Recycler Truck, which can reverse-engineer enemy technology from salvage crates; depending on the technology level of the vehicle it came from, different new upgrades will become available. Bomb Trucks also gain various Nuclear Options by stealing enemy warheads.
Abnormal Ammo: Shock Trooper rifles fire rocket-assisted high explosive bullets.
All Your Base Are Belong to Us: The Russians do this to most of the European air forces on a massive scale in the opening phase of the war, crippling most of the ECA's air assets.
Anonymous Ringer: Although not identified by name, President Suvorov's predecessor is heavily implied to be none other than Vladimir Putin, who continued to rule over Russia until 2028 at the ripe age of 76.
BFG: Boris, when using the RPG kit, uses a seriously large missile launcher. Shock Troops use gyrojet rifles which, while not quite as large, are still somewhat big for human-supposed weapons and very heavy.
Enemy Mine: It was revealed that Russia secretly backed the GLA as a proxy against US interests in the Middle East during the Global War on Terror. The subsequent political scandal seemingly paved the way for Nikolai Suvorov, then leader of the Russian opposition, who rallied the population in protest against the corrupt government and eventually became president himself in 2028.
I Did What I Had to Do: President Suvorov and the Russians in general consider declaring war against Europe to be this. There was virtually no other choice by that point.
Doom Troops: The main purpose of Shock Troopers is to instill pure terror.
Do a Barrel Roll: The Berkut's special maneuver makes it spin, deflecting incoming missiles.
Eagle Squadron: One fan-fiction introduced the Legion of Solidarity, a Russian-led peacekeeping unit composed of volunteers from the Federation's allies. The Brown Berets, as they were called, fought in Eastern Europe, Ukraine, Africa and distinguished themselves through their unexpected level of gallantry during the Russo-European War, but their legacy was overshadowed by Aleksandr's Shock Divisions over the years.
False Flag Operation: They start the war by staging an alleged ECA commando raid on their own missile base in Kaliningrad.
Forgotten Phlebotinum: The shroud-producing Blackout Node has become this, in an odd meta kind of way. Even though it can effectively shield a base against Superweapons and General's Powers, people keep forgetting about it because it doesn't work against the AI. As such, it has become a running gag to use it as a semi-ironic Hand Wave whenever the inherent problems of large scale troop movements and exposed command facilities in the story are brought up. Why hasn't the Russian invasion force in the Channel been detected? Blackout Nodes! Why hasn't Aleksandr's HQ been zapped by Solaris yet? Blackout Nodes! Note that these sensor cloaking capabilities were sufficiently established once, in the initial description of the Node, where it was used to cover up the entirety of Russia's military preparations before the war.
From Russia with Nukes: Russia still maintains the largest nuclear arsenal in the world. After the Europeans started using neutron bombs against them, President Suvorov assigned the clearance to deploy tactical nuclear weapons to General Zhukov and activated the Cold War era Perimetr system to ensure full-scale retaliation in the event of a decapitation strike.
Gasmask Mooks: The most prominent visual feature of Shock Troopers. There are also certain VDV and eventually Spetsnaz units that wear gas masks.
Glowing Eyes of Doom: The Golem Tank is equipped with the Shtora system which disables enemy weapons from targeting it and looks like this. It even says "Look into my eyes!"
It's Personal: One of the reasons why President Suvorov eventually starts the war. The loss of Africa threw Russia into a downward spiral which threatens to undo two decades of national revitalisation i.e. his personal legacy.
Magnetic Weapons: General Aleksandr will eventually have access to railgun technology.
Make the Bear Angry Again: The Russians may be the aggressors of the war, but their portrayal is mostly sympathetic. It's more of a case of the Bear getting angry again after being antagonised despite doing nothing noticeably amoral, having its economic boom cut off, its colonies taken away, and simply seeing no other remedy for its problems at that point.
Mighty Glacier: Contrary to the Real Life Russian design philosophy, the Sentinel is very large, heavy and sluggish. It makes up for its lack of mobility with one of the biggest tank guns in the game, heavy armour and the Arena upgrade which allows the tank to protect itself and friendly vehicles from missile attacks.
My God, What Have I Done?: Unlike the brutal General Aleksandr, President Suvorov starts to feel legitimately sorry about the catastrophe that he unleashed upon the world. In winter 2048, he openly admits to his Prime Minister that the war must be brought to an end - fast.
Named After Somebody Famous: President Nikolai Suvorov may or may not be named after legendary Russian general Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov.
National Anthem: Selecting a Russian Command Bunker plays the first few notes of the Russian anthem.
Near Villain Victory: If you want to think of the Russians as villains, they came close to breaking the ECA in May 2048.
New Meat: Russian Conscripts, whose training apparently consists of little more than a 30 minute instructional video.
The New Russia: Or rather, the New New Russia, having regained much of its old power.
Non-Action Big Bad: If one considers Russia to be the antagonistic force of the story, President Suvorov would be this. He did declare war on the ECA and set things into motion for reasons that may or may not be considered agreeable, but he doesn't really do much else since he left the actual strategy part of the war to his military generals. Unfortunately, the one he placed in charge as his acting supreme commander of the invasion wasn't the most ideal choice to say the least...
Nuke 'em: Possible with General Zhukov's Topol Launchers.
Our Presidents Are Different: Russian leader Nikolai Suvorov. The Europeans try to make him out as President Evil / Jerkass while his own people regard him as President Iron / Personable.
He also likes to present himself as a badass by donating blood and it is said that he wrestled power away from the ex-KGB elites. In other words: It's implied that he somehow defeated Vladimir frickin' Putin!
Polluted Wasteland: A large Russian base can give this impression. Their architecture is very austere and industrial and their coal power plants produce insane amounts of thick, black smoke.
Pretext for War: The Russian government blames the 2044 wildfires on the ECA even though they could have easily been a natural disaster. It's not outright stated to be the casus belli, but it marks an important step in the chain of escalation. The actual pretext comes in the form of a false flag attack. In the east, ethnic clashes between Russians and Chinese immigrants could also escalate at any time. As of winter 2048, the Chinese are massing forces on their side of the border.
Smoke Out: Many Russian vehicles can fire smoke grenades as a form of cover or to retreat. Enemy units usually blindly shoot into said smoke screens.
Sociopathic Soldier: General Aleksandr's Shock Troopers are trained to become this. The backstory describes their training methods as literally inhumane and those who survive to graduate end up as living war machines running only on hatred.
Took a Level in Badass: The first incarnation of the Sentinel tank was regarded as a worthless parade piece by the Russian military, which derisively called it the 'novelty tank' due to its perceived uselessness. After the rise of Nikolai Suvorov, a new model was designed from the ground up and became much more successful, to the point of being Russia's most powerful and iconic combat vehicle. The later M2 and M3 variants essentially attained a legendary status similar to the WW2 era Tiger tank during the Russo-European War.
Trading Bars for Stripes: Many Shock Troopers are prisoners who have decided to fight in the Shock Divisions instead of being executed or serving life sentences.
Training from Hell: The Shock Troopers go through this in Siberia and routinely fight each other to death in exercises. Spetsnaz training looks downright humane by comparison.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: President Suvorov really wants what is best for Russia (which also happens to coincide with preserving his personal legacy), even if it means waging war against Europe. Once things start going against the Russians however and with General Aleksandr's mounting ego posing more of a threat to the Motherland, he starts finding ways to end the conflict.
Blatant Lies: Prior to the GLA attack of 2028, the EU turned into an authoritarian hell-hole, producing propagandistic slogans such as 'united forever in friendship of freedom' or 'no more nations, no more war', alongside a map of a United Europe without borders. A later map reveals that Britain, Ireland, as well as many regions such as Bavaria, Padania and Catalonia had actually left the EU - possibly even by force - at that point.
Britain Is Only London: Averted. The one major story portion dedicated to the UK is set in the seaside town of Ramsgate where the Russians make landfall. It is mentioned that the other focal point of the Russian landing is Kingsdown and that Charles is commanding one of the defences directly.
Brits with Battleships: Represented by General Charles who gets exclusive access to VTOLs and mobile howitzers. In addition, they provide the ECA both specialized commando infantry and the main bulk of its air power, the RAF being the only European air force left that's still intact.
The Commonwealth of Nations: Consolidated into a full-blown trade bloc with Britain's withdrawal from the EU. At the height of the Russo-European War, many Commonwealth citizens as well joined the British Army while Australia and New Zealand even dispatched an official task force to support the European war effort.
Cool Plane: Plenty, despite not having an air force in the conventional in-game sense.
Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Inverted. Not only do the French provide a fair number of decent units in-game, including the Felin troopers, the Tiger helicopter and the Venom exo-suit, but their use of nuclear weapons marks the major turning point of the Russo-European War. President Marmont preferred to nuke his own country rather than surrendering it to General Aleksandr.
Crippling Overspecialization: Unlike the other factions, their defences are more varied but specialised: Guard Towers are only truly effective against infantry and a few light vehicles, Gun Turrets are only effective against vehicles and Skyshields can only attack air units. Every structure is superior at what it is supposed to be but a proper ECA defence line has to mix them in order to be truly effective.
Deadline News: Implied to be the fate of Eric Brice from ECAN news after the Russians conquer Berlin.
Turns out he ducked behind his desk, and he survived. But now he is forced to read the Russian's propaganda.
Deadly Gas: Another nasty benefit of the Pandora protocol. The already annoying tear gas strike turns into a nerve gas strike which creates a dense cloud of death which kills absolutely everything it comes in contact with.
Defeat Means Friendship: Notably, the ECA followed up on its retaliatory invasion of North Africa with a series of massive infrastructural, social and military development programs in the region in order to make it hostile territory for the GLA. In 2048, the SNN news ticker briefly mentions that a GLA incursion into southern Algeria has been successfully repelled by Maghreb forces, suggesting that the plan worked out.
Elite Army: The European Continental Army is this in a story sense. It is not a complete amalgamation of all the national militaries of Europe, but rather a separate, standing task force with the best equipment from all of them. It is explicitely stated that, on the onset of the Russo-European War, the ECA itself counts approx. 1.2 million active personnel, supported by another 2.5 million troops from the national militaries who presumably concentrate on defending their own countries while the ECA fights a retreating battle as they fall.
The Federation: The ECA is this in the most technical definition of the word.
Fictional Political Party: The Hope and Glory Party, which removed the UK from the EU and improved the country's global standing via a tighter cooperation with the Commonwealth.
Field Promotion: Given as a literal power, which lets ECA players give their units a free Veterancy level.
First Name Basis: The European Generals Wolfgang, Willem and Charles are refered to by their first names in-game.
Flechette Storm: Canister rounds are this and remarkably effective against infantry. The Gepard and Leopard also have canister bombs which launch automatically when enemy infantry like Terrorists come too close to the vehicle.
Germanic Efficiency: Subverted with many of the German ECA units: Panzerfaust troopers appear to be somewhat dim-witted, Gepard commanders seem unprofessionally Trigger Happy and the Manticore commander is raging on his own adrenaline. Functionally, all of the units are still pretty effective but then again, the team has a rule of not adding useless crap for the mere sake of adding it.
Glass Cannon: The Pandora fires massiveneutron shells that can easily wipe out an entire attack force several times its own price but it is slow, takes precious seconds to deploy and undeploy, has a noticeable minimum range and weak armour.
Godzilla Threshold: May 2048. The Russians are on the verge of victory, with the ECA holed up just north of the Pyrenees, its manpower dwindling and no hope in side. Enter, the neutron bombs.
Good Weapon, Evil Weapon: The ECA completely ruins the stereotypical conventions of Western factions using 'good' / 'humane' weapons by making liberal use of land mines, cluster bombs, atomic bombs and even nerve gas out of sheer desperation.
He Who Fights Monsters: Getting abandoned by their US allies, ravaged by the GLA then bailed out by China had quite an effect on the Europeans. The ECA is a democratic institution but at the same time paranoid, secluded and with traces of militarism. The Russian invasion may or may not push them over the edge.
High-Tech Hexagons: The Nano Shock Absorbers that can be installed on various European vehicles have a hexagon-shaped tile pattern.
The Solaris satellites were not designed to be Kill Sats. During peace time, they were used to produce clean energy and direct sunlight onto farms.
The dreaded Pandora railgun is actually a military refit of an orbital payload accelerator used by the European Space Agency. In addition, it is implied that the nano repair foam used to fill the holes of damaged tank hulls upon activation of the Manticore protocol also serves to maintain European satellites in space.
In-Universe Catharsis: The total collapse of the European political and financial system in the wake of the GLA attack had this effect on the nations of Europe, resulting in a more decelerated and humble way of life in which the excessive materialism and egocentrism of the past gave way to a new sentinment of solidarity, diligence and 'can do' optimism reminiscent of the post-WWII period.
Kick the Dog: There's wildfires raging all around Moscow and a German minister has nothing better to do than berating Russia for its failed environmental/energy policies.
Landmine Goes Click: The Mole Minelayer. The update that introduced it depicted it as pure horror for the GLA. In addition, the ECA can also deploy large fields of anti-personnel, anti-tank and even anti-air mines by air, Tiger helicopters can spawn Icarus balloon mines and the Pandora can even place a neutron bomb as a stand-still bomb. Meanwhile the Smart Bomb does the same with a high-explosive warhead that gets upgraded to Neutron Bomb with the Pandora protocol. Overall the trope is Played With, since some of these mines actually do click while others just explode in your face (literally).
La Résistance: Hauptmann Frank Jaeger who also happens to be the ECA's hero.
Light 'em Up: The Solar Burst and the Wotan (although the Wotan's attack should be outside the visible spectrum).
Mighty Glacier: The ECA has good firepower and solid defences but lacks agility.
The Manticore tank is a perfect example of this. It packs amazing amounts of firepower, has tough armour and rapid auto-repair but it's quite slow and cumbersome. Justified for a vehicle that is described by its driver as '100 tons of German engineering'. The commander of the first tank crew that was given the privilege of driving a Manticore commented that the tank is so large and heavy that the chassis and turret had to be brought in on two separate train cars and assembled on-site.
More Dakka: Again, the Goalkeeper, which is a gatling gun. On a smaller level, the MG3s mounted on Guard Towers have a rather impressive rate of fire as well.
Multinational Team: Includes every country between Portugal and Poland. The in-game units have distinct German, Dutch, French, British, Italian, Spanish and Scandinavian accents.
National Anthem: Despite not technically being a nation of its own, the ECA is said to play Marc-Antoine Charpentier's Te Deum on official occasions after Beethoven's Ode To Joy absorbed some negative connotations from its use by the declining in-universe EU. In real life, Te Deum is used as a kind of theme music by the European Broadcasting Union - which, interestingly, is not actually affiliated with the European Union and can be considered a predecessor of the in-universe ECAN.
We also get the text of Germany's new anthem after the reformation of Europe, which now includes one stanza from the former West German anthem, one from the more introspective Children's Anthem by Bertolt Brecht and one from the romantic future positive anthem of East Germany.
Neutral Austrians with No Navy: No longer neutral in that they're clearly a part of the ECA's joint military framework. The Austrian Pandur IFV is also one of the ECA's most versatile units.
New Roman Legions: The Mobile Sensor Arrays are Italian. It is also stated that they were the first to warn Europe of Russia's naval incursion into the Mediterranean Sea.
New Spanish Armada: Both the Mole Minelayer and the Harrier VTOL are operated by Spaniards.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Pretty much the entire chain of escalation could have been prevented if ECA high command had seen the big picture and allowed Wolfgang to aid the Russians in 2041.
Nuclear Option: Enacted by the French in May 2048 and available in the game in the form of nasty neutron weapons. In the story, this is the moment where the Russian advance is finally stopped at a tremendous cost.
No Party Given: During the twilight years of the EU, Germany was ruled by the so-called 'Europakoalition' which apparently consisted of four parties and was eventually swept out of office when the German military sided with the people. Even though none of them is mentioned by name, even a slight familiarity with the German political system makes it easy to guess which parties this might be referring to. The situation itself is also reminiscent of the troubled Weimar Republic, which was governed by an emergency coalition of three parties due to severe political instability.
Olympic Games: Mentioned as being hosted in Berlin in 2036, precisely a hundred years after the games of 1936 which happened under Nazi rule. The modern Germans of the 2030s, who had just restored their independence and came to terms with their own history, seem to be much aware of this circumstance and present themselves as a nation of humanism and vast social diversity during the opening ceremony.
OneTankArmy: The Manticore by virtue of having a build limit of one and being very tough to crack.
Pillar of Light: The Solar Blast superweapon. It's also reminiscent of the Ion Cannon from older C&C games.
Poles with Poleaxes: Not available in game, but they put up an amazing fight against the initial Russian assault in the story.
Polluted Wasteland: Ibrahiim's infamous chemical attack has turned the Rhineland into this, rendering it uninhabitable until at least 2060.
The Power of the Sun: The ECA's Solaris technology is all about this. Not only does it use satellites to direct sunlight onto Earth-based power stations, it actually uses that power to initiate and sustain a fusion reactor i.e. a literal mini-version of the Sun on Earth. This technology renders Europe factually self-sufficient, threatening Russian fuel exports and hurting the relationship between the two factions many years before the war.
Purposely Overpowered: The Manticore, Pandora and Venom units can only be build one at a time (one each in case of the two Venom variants) because they are experimental. On the other hand, they are very powerful in return.
Putting on the Reich: Their Region Command was jokingly likened to a nazi doom fortress, their soundtrack has a very militaristic vibe to it and their dress uniforms look distinctly authoritarian - or hilarious if you've ever seen the New Jersey State Police. Inverted in that the ECA is still solidly democratic and merely fighting a defensive war to protect its homeland. At one point in the story, the German soldiers who made their last stand inside the Reichstag also invoked this by donning their stone grey dress uniforms in order to look more elite and thus frightening.
Recursive Ammo: ECA artillery can be upgraded to shoot shells that explode into fragments, doing additional area damage per shot.
Recycled Soundtrack: The ECA soundtrack uses the Codename: Panzers Phase One music along with a few Wargames: DEFCON 1 tracks, plus a piece from Sim City: Societies.
Ridiculous Exchange Rates: The Euro became this after several years of economic crises and the total collapse of the European financial system in the wake of the GLA attack. It was subsequently reduced to a virtual accountancy unit akin to the old ECU and replaced by new national currencies.
Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Operation Nemesis, the all-out invasion of GLA-controlled North Africa, was this. Noteworthy in that the ECA actually proceeded to -help- the locals after they drove out the GLA.
Royals Who Actually Do Something: When the entire Dutch government resigned during the collapse of the EU, trusted members of the royal family assumed interim positions to maintain public order in the Netherlands. It is also heavily implied that Prince William has become King of England and that his brother stayed in London to coordinate the defense of England during the Russian invasion. He died when the Russians bombed his command post, but the loss proved to be a major morale boost for the British and their Commonwealth allies who fought with even greater tenacity in the battles that followed.
Shotguns Are Just Better: Frank Jaeger's primary weapon is a pump action shotgun. Putting him inside a Pandur equips the vehicle with a massive canister cannon too.
Smoking Is Cool: Tiger pilots often comment that they could use a cigarette in accordance with their 'French smoker' stereotype while Frank Jaeger seems to run out of smokes all the time.
Token Minority: It's implied that the various minorities in Europe, such as Germany's Turkish immigrants had been largely integrated if not culturally assimilated, possibly in an attempt to distance themselves from the potential GLA stigma.
Took a Level in Badass: With the United States gone, the European Union was wholly unable to stop the GLA insurrection of 2028, its armed forces weakened by budget cuts, mutinies, secessions and political bickering. The ECA on the other hand is depicted as tough, capable and pragmatic, to the point of using many weapons that seem to be specifically designed to counter the GLA, such as bomb-detecting Attack Dogs, Mobile Sensor Arrays which reveal concealed units in a wide radius and the Mole Minelayer which can effectively seal flanking routes with mines and decimate units as they exit a tunnel if used correctly.
As an individual unit, the Tiger Gunship also exemplifies the badassery gained: The German UHT variant had faulty electronics and proved useless against the GLA which didn't rely on the Cold War era tank assault the Tiger was designed to defeat; it didn't even have a rotating turret. A few years later, the ECA 'King Tiger' model packs powerful rotating rocket pods with effective splash damage, anti-air mines and anti-air missiles which not only makes it the bane of the GLA's lightly armored ground units but also allows it to take on enemy aircraft, including Russia's famous helicopters.
United Europe: Deconstructed with the failing in-universe EU, then subverted with the newly founded ECA which is an alliance of sovereign nations as opposed to the one unified super-state that keeps popping up in a lot of speculative fiction.
The old European Union was nearing this before its collapse.
The EU leadership and elite prior to the GLA attack really seemed to believe in fulfilling their vision of a transnational, cosmopolitan United Europe, no matter the cost. As mentioned above and below, it didn't work.
Velvet Revolution: Happened in Germany and the Netherlands after the GLA attack. The French went for something more dramatic and flat-out stormed the presidential palace to proclaim the Sixth Republic.
We Are Not the Wehrmacht: Leopard, Gepard and Jagdmammut tanks stand out among several German units in the ECA tech-tree. Also, General Wolfgang.
Zeppelins from Another World: The pre-assembled ECA battle groups available at the Deployment Zone are brought in by the CL 250 cargo airship. The backstory heavily implies that it is a distant offspring of the defunct 1990s era Cargolifter project that is now used by a number of civilian logistics companies. The airship is so large and majestic that the sultan of Oman even tried to order one for himself to turn it into a flying palace.
United States of America
Agony Beam: US Microwave weapons were meant to be this, but it is explained that their operators generally forego the non-lethal setting and just cook the guys who are shooting at them with real weapons.
America Takes Over the World: Inverted. After their retreat from Europe, the US revert to isolationism which eventually breaks their economy's back, forcing them to form an economic trade bloc with Canada and Mexico. They get better by the time Russia invades Europe though.
America Saves the Day: Not as much 'saving the day' as 'sealing the deal' after the ECA had inflicted enough casualties and broke the Russians' momentum by itself. The American contribution to the war is limited to air support, Marine landings and special operations which merely serve to intensify the ECA's counter-attack.
The Atoner: The Americans in general, especially following their decision to go isolationist. They're more humble from the experience, although they're no less eager to fight for freedom and democracy.
Attack Drone: Unmanned vehicles are pretty much one of their themes.
Awesome Personnel Carrier: The Bradley IFV comes with a powerful auto-cannon, TOW-missiles, a point-defense laser and transport slots.
Badass Boast: Colonel Burton and the Pathfinders are the most obvious examples.
Beam Spam: The US Military makes use of point-defense lasers, anti-air beams and microwave weapons. Budget cuts in the immediate years after Zero Hour however led to the government shutting down some of the more exotic projects seen in the expansion pack, though not without confronting General Townes.
Bland-Name Product: The American fusion reactors are made by a company called National Atomics which is either a nationalized or fantasy counterpart version of General Atomics.
Black Helicopter: Pitch-black textures don't look good in-game but all American helicopters come pretty close to being this. General Griffon's unique Comanche will fit this even more by virtue of having stealth capabilities.
Break Out the Museum Piece: After the apparent demise of the Joint Strike Fighter Program, the F-117 Nighthawk, which was originally mothballed in 2008, was updated and reintroduced as the standard American strike bomber. It is quite effective against defenses and anti-air.
The Cavalry: America's entry into the Euro-Russian War was basically this.
Church Militant: It is vaguely implied that the Global War On Terror had, at some point, a culture war component which led to the introduction of the original Crusader tank and the renaming of the M1 Abrams to Paladin, both of which saw extensive use against the crypto-Islamic GLA in the Middle East. Much of this subtext has disappeared over time, with the US having gone through a tough but cathartic phase of political/economic trouble and the GLA having broadened its ideological range to include any 'anti-imperialist' stream imaginable under Sulaymaan.
Cool Boat: The American intervention in the Russo-European War is led by the USS Spirit Of Freedom, a Mobile Offshore Base that is inspired by the USS Reagan from End War and the Japanese Floating Fortresses from Red Alert 3. A burst from a hijacked Solaris satellite merely took out one of her runways and even though it only appears in the story, it serves to explain all the large American bombers and other planes that fly over Europe.
Expanded States of America: The North American Union, despite making no efforts to turn into some sort of federal state after the failure of the in-universe EU, is a much closer strategic alliance between the US, Canada and Mexico. The NAU was formed to pull the US back out of their post-Global War On Terror recession, thus making it a subversion.
Fallen States of America: Zigzagged - after the GLA war, the US retreated into isolationism, which resulted in economic disaster. However, enough time has elapsed for the US to get its feet back under it. So America fell, but got back up.
Hellhole Prison: The US Black Sea prison in which GLA Warlord Sulaymaan was (not) held may be this. It was reserved for high-profile inmates and apparently hellish enough for the GLA to execute every non-prisoner they got a hold of when they raided it. In-game, one of the US tech buildings is also a Detention Camp.
Highly Conspicuous Uniform: Even though the cameos depict them in generic desert uniforms, most US infantry units wear highly conspicuous blue uniforms in-game.
Hover Tank: The American Crusader II can turn into this for extra speed.
Invaded States of America: Downplayed. The US don't find themselves invaded by anyone but both the Russians and the Europeans manage to dispatch special forces to Alaska to retrieve the wreckage of a crashed Solaris satellite, resulting in a brief three-way firefight between them and an American military unit on US soil.
Kill Sat: Inverted. Particle Cannons fire a beam from the ground up where it is deflected onto the target by satellites.
Laser Sight: Used by the Missile Defenders and Avenger to increase accuracy and rate of fire, and by aircraft to increase the accuracy and damage of their weapons.
The Men in Black: There are some hints which suggest that the American intelligence agencies still have some dubious powers reminiscent of a police state but they seem to be reserved for foreign terrorists like Anwar Sulaymaan whose doppelganger was held in a US secret prison in Turkey and military whistleblowers like Corporal Brandon Miller, who leaked confidential information regarding the top-secret Anchorage incident and ended up "detained indefinitely'."
Moral Myopia: Deconstructed. The aftermath of America's drive to isolationism after its nigh self-righteous streak in the Global War on Terror forced Americans to look deep at their moral "high ground." They're noticeably more apologetic and eager to restore their "moral responsibilities" to the wider world by the 2040s however.
No Party Given: Throughout the decades, the story mentions at least four US Presidents by name: Paulson, who was apparently responsible for the country's change to isolationism, O'Connor, who founded the North American Union, Giordano, whose administration was responsible for the ill-fated Pacific Peace Alliance and its brief war against the Russian protectorates in Africa and William Bradford, his successor who led America into the Third World War. We never get any clear information as to which parties they represent but we do know from Bradford's speech in Congress that the political landscape is still primarily divided into Republicans and Democrats.
Polish The Turd/Slave to PR According to a European Solaris scientist, the American power plants do not actually run on cold fusion. They're regular hot fusion reactors that run at the lowest possible temperature and pressure, but the National Atomics PR department claimed this to be the real deal and the advertised name stuck on, to the chagrin of European and American scientists. Kind of like that whole 'god particle' thing.
President William 'Willie' Bradford delivers one rather epic speech in his first proper appearance, urging Congress to authorise a military intervention on behalf of the Europeans. He invokes literary references out of 1984 and The Lord of the Rings and his main reasoning for a late entry into the war seems to be moral responsibility, considering that America had already left Europe to burn in the original Zero Hour.
One of his predecessors, President Kevin O'Connor, also gave a very optimistic speech during the foundation of the NAU in 2033. As expected from American leaders, they both end with a typical 'may God bless America' style phrase.
Space Station: The NAUSS Pennsylvania, completed in 2034, is a testament to both American ingenuity and the freshly-established North American Union. It's also an Expy of GDI's Philadelphia space station from the Tiberium games.
What an Idiot: In-universe. Shortly after the Global War on Terror, US intelligence agencies and political pundits claimed that China would take over the world and that Russia's new President Suvorov was really just an ineffectual mouth-piece of the ex-Soviet elites; the same elites which he actually abolished and destroyed.
Wild Weasel: The Nighthawk, which is especially effective against defences and anti-air.
Yanks with Tanks: While no longer entirely state-of-the-art due to the budget cuts following Zero Hour, the US military has nonetheless remained an elite, formidable fighting force.
After the End: The Middle East essentially found itself in this state after the Global War on Terror with entire nations having crumbled amidst the total free-for-all battle that was kicked off by the GLA. From what little is know, Iran was somehow involved in GLA bio-weapons research and destroyed the desalination facilities which provided the Arabian Peninsula with drinkable water while Israel walled itself in and every remaining country ended up balkanized, deformed or otherwise changed in some degree. Note that the use of weapons of mass destruction in this scenario seems probable even though it hasn't been stated nor denied. In 2033, the US President simply remarks that 'the Middle East is ruined beyond all recovery'.
Enemy Civil War: Occurred in Iran during the Global War On Terror when one radical faction of the government sought to integrate the country into the global war effort of the GLA whilst the more moderate faction wanted to fight against America and Saudi Arabia while still maintaining Iran's national independence. In the end, the war engulfed the entire Middle East with the Arabian peninsula severely balkanized and Iran replaced by a secular Republic of Persia.
Fighting for a Homeland: The Partisans are described as veteran insurgents that constantly shift in and out of the GLA's ranks because they fight to protect their ancestral homelands against the global superpowers. In a way, this makes them one of the more sympathetic groups within the GLA, reminiscent of Afghan fighters in 1980s portrayals.
Handicapped Badass: Jarmen Kell lost half his right hand in an IED accident, but his sniping skills are still deadly accurate.
Hit-and-Run Tactics: Although all factions can do this to some extent, this is the GLA's speciality.
Honor Before Reason: While it's really stretching the term "honor," the GLA's attack on Europe is this. Sure, it had no real chance of succeeding, yet they still did it anyway just because they could.
Hypocrite: The GLA are this in droves. At first, they scream incessantly about oppression, imperialism, and how just they are. Other comments, however, underscore that they're basically ill-tempered, sadistic, sociopathic low-lifes to a man. Except for the lowly Workers, who are some of the single most hilariously down-trodden, abused schmucks in gaming history.
Instant Death Radius: Exploded Bomb Trucks with toxin payloads have this as long as the wreckage is intact.
Invisibility Cloak: Available in the form of camo-nets for defences, camoflage for infantry and GPS Scramblers for everything else. When combined this means that apart from 3 exceptions (Workers and both air units) the entire army can be stealth.
Mad Bomber: Their Terrorists and other suicide units.
Middle Eastern Coalition: During the Global War On Terror, the GLA had shades of this with individual states in the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa openly supporting what was essentially a non-state actor. Inverted after the war with the setting's actual MEC, the Middle Eastern Council, which was established in an effort to coordinate humanitarian relief and peacekeeping operations and seems to be more anti-GLA than anything else, considering what a colossal mess Deathstrike and his bunch left in the Middle East.
Multiple Life Bars: Their buildings due to the Hole mechanic. Battle Busses and Toxin Bomb Trucks also leave wreckages that have to be completely destroyed.
N.G.O. Superpower: They started out as a loose band of Central Asian tribal fighters, nationalists and mercenaries, got injected with the manpower, assets and fanaticism of a Middle Eastern terrorist army and went to on challenge both China and America. In the process, the GLA managed to take temporary control of large parts of Central Asia and the Middle East, received outright support from parts of the Iranian government and possibly Russia, kicked off a total war that destroyed the entire region and eventually went out in one final attack that smashed the European Union.
Under Sulaymaan's rule, they have actually attained certain traits of a state actor due to their permanent presence in Central Africa and their ability to operate on the international oil market, although they are yet to receive any sort of recognition as an actual country which, knowing their track record, seems unlikely.
Poisoned Weapons: They shoot posion streams like other factions use liquids in flamethrowers and can upgrade tank and artillery shells with poison. They can also fire missiles with gas warheads. To top it all, they can research the upgrade Anthrax Beta which improves the lethality of their poison weapons even further.
Post Peak Oil: Said to have happened in the late 2030s. The GLA controls some of the last remaining deposits in Central Africa, making their front companies a noteworthy force on the global market.
Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Whereas every other faction uses dedicated vehicles for construction and logistics, the GLA only has slave workers even though they have plenty of vehicles that would realistically be able to carry supplies.
Defector from Decadence: 'Michael Deng' was trained as a hacker and helped the Ministry of State Security to hunt down alleged dissenters in South East Asia. He eventually got sick of it and used his abilities to hand out exit permits for many locals before he fled as well.
Destructive Savior: The Chinese liberation of central Europe during the GLA war was a total mess, with entire cities worth of collateral damage. This was after the Europeans talked them out of just nuking everything.
The Dragon's Teeth: China is the most nuclear-heavy faction in the game. Story-wise, they had a justification to use their nukes during the Global War on Terror because the GLA nuked them first, this activating the PRC's 'no first use' policy. We are yet to see how justified this will be for the current conflict.
The Empire: China has shades of this, with American media describing the Chinese-influenced GAPA as being under an oppressive shadow.
Fictional Political Party: Since the Chinese are no longer even trying to pass for socialists or communists during the mod's timeframe, the story only ever refers to their leadership as 'The Party' in both character dialogue and official statements which invokes 1984.
Gatling Good: Gattling Tanks, stationary base defences and mounted weapons.
Their flak weapons have this effect: Their effect is instantaneous and they cannot miss. Enemy aircraft basically fly straight into a brick wall upon entering an area with multiple Twinfangs. Amusingly, this makes China's seemingly obsolete flak weapons some of the most effective and reliable anti-air weapons in the entire game, However this is at the exchange of having the worst range of all the Advanced Anti-Air units.
Impossible Thief: Black Lotus can be this with her Capture Building and Cash Hack abilities.
Impressive Pyrotechnics: China is arguably the best at this. Just drop some napalm, nukes, ECM and EMP bombs in the same area and watch the amazing fireworks.
Kill It with Fire: In the interest of theme diversity, China is the only faction that makes extensive use of incendiary agents which are delivered via a variety shells, bombs, rockets and good old fashioned flamethrowers. Their napalm not only damages the target, but a massed volley of creates a firestorm which rages on for several seconds for which the affected area turns into a massive killzone. The Black Napalm upgrade makes their flame weapons even more potent.
Landmine Goes Click: Now with an updated in-game model. Subverted in that they simply explode rather than beep first.
Lethal Joke Character: The Chinese Hopper Tank is a light, paper-thin, weakly armed tankette vehicle with a comically oversized turret reminiscent of the iconic tank from Metal Slug. It is also very fast, dirt cheap, produced in twos, benefits from all the important upgrades and can overwhelm any other, more expensive tank through sheer numbers.
Lightning Bruiser: The Overlord tank may be well armoured and heavily armed but it also becomes obscenely fast for a super-heavy tank once upgraded with nuclear engines.
Propaganda Machine: Both as an in-game mechanic and as a regular narrative device in China-themed story updates. Remember that a single Battlemaster can destroy three, even five enemy tanks by itself. No, really!
Red China: Subverted. By 2030, they don't even try to pass for communists anymore, instead running a society built around technocratic state capitalism, ancient philosophy, Asian nationalism and dystopian state-worship.
Slap-on-the-Wrist Nuke: Played with. It's stronger than the normal ZH nuke but still much weaker than any real strategic warhead.
Schizo Tech: They use plenty of sophisticated EMP and ECM weapon while at the same time putting compact nuclear reactors on their crypto Type 59 tanks while their infantry weapons and tactics have somehow devolved to the 1950s.