The original Red Alert is now freeware. Well, it has been for quite a while, actually, just I never got around to downloading it and attempting to complete it (I was never able to when I was a kid, cuz I sucked really badly ).
Yesterday, though, I did get around to it, and it’s such a joy to replay one of the very few RTSs I actually like (only four in total). Although the intelligence of your own units REALLY gets on my nerves sometimes – sometimes half of the units you selected won’t do anything, other times they’ll just happily blow themselves and their teammates up, and other times they’ll take the most ridiculous route to a target ever. And don’t get me started on the naval units.
Getting it running wasn’t easy, though, since it has massive problems running on Windows 7. Even if you manage to get it installed (the installer is a 16-bit application, bad for people who run 64-bit Windows), the colours mess up in-game and make it very unpleasant to play.
If you’re one of those people, don’t worry, cuz there is a way to get it to run perfectly, thanks to the awesomeness of some fan tools and fixes. Firstly, you’ll need your Red Alert CDs, obviously. If you don’t have the original discs, you can get them here. EA have packed it with a 60MB trailer for RA3 and some other crap, though – I might reupload a cleaner version soon to save yo’ bandwidth. While that’s downloading, you’ll need ze Red Alert Setup Manager from zis page. With that, you don’t need to use the old 16-bit installer, and it comes with the latest patches, too. Finally, to make it all work, you’ll need this very excellent DirectDraw hack… thing. Basically, it overrides the old default DirectDraw DLL that Red Alert used to use, and renders with OpenGL instead, fixing the messed up colours.
When you’ve got everything, follow these steps:
1: If you downloaded the CDs, extract the .ISO images using WinRAR. If you’re using your own CDs, insert the Allied disc and go to shtep 3.
2: When you’ve extracted them, mount the Allied CD using DAEMON Tools. (Just double-clicking on the .ISO should work. )
3: If the Red Alert launcher comes up, just close it. Open up the Red Alert Setup Manager instead.
4: Check “Install Red Alert from the original CD” (make sure you browse to where you want the game installed ), “Apply Red Alert 1.08 Patch”, “Apply Red Alert 3.03 patch”, “Apply 4Player fix” and “Install music”. You can also check the box to install the WOL API if you’re going to be playing online, but I don’t know anything about it (I won’t be playing this online. ).
5: Press Apply. It should come up with a dialog at some point asking whether you want to disable the intro or not. No harm in getting rid of it. After it’s finished, you can close the Red Alert Setup Manager.
6: Now, take the ddraw.dll that you downloaded, and copy it to wherever you installed Red Alert.
7: Before you try playing the game, right click on ra95.exe, go to “Properties”, open up the “Compatibility” tab, and make sure all the options are unchecked. Yep, unchecked. Trust. Although if you’ve installed Red Alert to Program Files or any access-restricted area, you might want to check “run this program as administrator”. Otherwise it might not save.
8: Next, open rasetup.exe. Make sure the resolution’s at 640×400, and that “Back buffer in Video Memory” is checked, and “Allow hardware filled blits” is unchecked.
9: When that’s done, you can double-click ra95.exe to start the game. MAGIC! No messed-up colours. (Hopefully. )
10: “I can’t play Red Alert in this miniscule window!” Aye, I hear you. Quit the game, and look in the Red Alert folder. A new file, “ddraw.ini”, should have magically appeared. Go ahead and open it with Notepad.
11: You can change a bunch of settings in there, but you’ll definitely want to change “windowed=true” to “windowed=false”. Save the file, close it, and open up Red Alert again.
12: CONSTRUCTION COMPLETE! Now, you shouldn’t be able to see this text while the game’s running, because it’s in full screen.
Hope this helps someone to get it working easily, because this was doing my head in – it was just problem after problem. Oh, also, Red Alert might have its music volume set to zero when you play it for the first time for some reason – so you might wanna turn it back up. One of the best soundtracks of all time and such.
Right, now I’m off to try and finish this mission. See yaz.
Right, there appears to be a “HOLY CRAP THE SCROLLING IS WAY TOO FAST” issue if you’ve got a speedy processor. By “way too fast”, I mean that just touching the mouse against the side of the screen causes the camera to almost teleport to the edge of the map.
You can fix this if you open up the “REDALERT.ini” file in the game’s directory, search for ScrollRate, and change it to 7. The camera will move at a much more realistic pace, but make sure you don’t open the in-game Options menu again, otherwise it’ll overwrite your settings, and the camera’ll go back to being Concorde.