Command & Conquer: Red Alert is a real-time strategy computer game of the Command & Conquer franchise, produced by Westwood Studios and released by Virgin Interactive in 1996. The second game to bear the \"C&C\" title, Red Alert is the prequel to the original Command & Conquer of 1995,] and takes place in the early history of the alternate universe of Command & Conquer when Allied Forces battle an aggressive Soviet Union for control over the European mainland. It was initially available for PC (MS-DOS & Windows 95 versions included in one package), and was subsequently ported to PlayStation. The PlayStation version was also re-released as a download for PSP. On Sunday, August 31, 2008, EA officially rendered Command & Conquer: Red Alert freeware.
Red Alert was praised for its user interface, which claimed to be more developed than the competing games of its time. Players could queue commands, create unit groups that could be selected by a number key, and control numerous units at a time. The game was known to be easy to control, simple to learn and responsive to users commands. It also featured two factions that had differing styles of play. Red Alert is also hailed as one of the first games to feature competitive online play. The single player campaign also received high praise for its detailed story line and missions which often required the player to defeat the enemy with various sets of circumstances before continuing. The single player campaign was also complemented by live action cinematic sequences that are a feature of all Command & Conquer RTS games since the original, except for Command and Conquer: Generals.
The game balance between the forces of the Allied and Soviet armies differed from other games at its time. Like the \'rock-paper-scissors\' balancing of modern games, Red Alert required each player to use their side\'s strengths in order to compensate for their weaknesses. This stood in contrast to games such as Total Annihilation or Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness, in which both sides had units with similar abilities and relied on outnumbering your opponent with more units of a certain kind.
The Soviets\' vehicles have more hit points and firepower than Allied vehicles but are often slower moving. The Soviets also have superior defensive capabilities against both ground attacks (the devastating Tesla Coil) and air attacks (the long-ranged SAM). In online play and computer skirmish, they have access to two of the Allied side\'s most useful infantry: the Rocket Trooper and Tanya, a commando capable of easily killing infantry and destroying structures. They also have a wide selection of air units, and could deploy infantry by air through paratroops or by the Chinook transport helicopter (the latter only present in multiplayer). The Soviet \"tank rush\" was a popular strategy online, involving building many heavy tanks and overwhelming the opponent with sheer numbers.