The event started at 11:00 AM on October the 6th, a hot Saturday afternoon in L.A. - All of the thirty or so fellow gaming nerds were anxiously waiting outside, and talking to each other. I was also socialising with many other gamers there. I was beginning to feel a sense of familiarity to all of the registered attendees. I think all of us felt connected on a certain level, we were all just as gung-ho as the next about PC games. So, as you may have guessed, there was much to talk about for the thirty minutes before the event started.
When the doors opened, Chris Rubyor (Westwood Online Community Manager) greeted everyone and got all of the people from the fan sites in first, (yay!) - then everyone else moved in. I picked a computer next to one of the guys I had gotten to know, he was also from a community website (CNC Renegades). There were about thirty computers in total; we had about forty-five registered visitors who had showed up out of the original sixty that had originally been confirmed to come. We were required to switch off occasionally in oder to allow others to play at times, but I had no problem with the limitations.
Yuri's Revenge was a very enjoyable game. As I have stated countless times before in the forums, I had unwavering faith in Westwood's ability to make the game balanced. And balanced it was; perfectly - I would be surprised if they felt they needed to even release any patches! The first thing I did when I started playing was to play a bit of the first campaign mission. "This isnt right," I said to myself. I took another look around the room and realised that I should have started with a LAN game; I knew that it would probably be the only time I would ever play a LAN game with this many people to play with! I decided to play with the guy from CNC Renegades in our first YR multiplayer game. I found that there were many strategies playing against Yuri's side that I wasnt prepared for.. here's a short lowdown on the changes to the sides:
First of all, Yuri has the most powerful infantry in the game in my opinion: Brutes, Initiates, Yuri Clones, Yuri Prime, and the deadly Virus Sniper all have been underestimated. When used correctly, Yuri can be just as unstoppable as any other side. His armoured units (tanks and the like) were great but not as good without the support of Yuri Clones. Yuri is a very formidable opponent. He will add much confusion to the "pros" of RA2. His only weakness that I noticed was that the strongest of his units (infantry) also happen to be the slowest..
The Allied forces have some new units that help them fight Yuri and the Soviets. One which I found to be very powerful was the robot tank. If you build one robot control center you can build as many of these units as you want. With the ability to hover over water, to resist mind control, and with grizzly strength power, they are a great investment at only 600 credits. Their only drawback is their armor, which is relatively weak against pretty much anything. The Allies also boast the battle fortress - in my opinion it's a good unit, but very hard to master and to learn all of the strategies that it brings with it. However it is very slow, expensive, and vulnerable; but once it's defended properly it has the capability of crushing your opponents offense. The allies are still weak at the beginning. Yet they do have a new edge; the Guardian GI. This guy, the 'superior version' of the average Jo Guardian GI, is the answer to the soviet rush. Their only setback is their vulnerability to other infantry, being completely worthless against dogs and anything else of the like.
Many fans have worriedly claimed that the Soviets have lost their edge in Yuri's Revenge, but as Chris Rubyor told me, they have not. - And I came around reluctantly to realize it too. I thought hard and learned the incredible capabilities of a siege chopper; I thought that they were very vulnerable to attack of all sorts, but discovered in groups can wipe out ground units and structures, then take off and wipe out rocketeers! They can also be strategically placed on cliffs that are inaccessible and destroy the enemy base, while the enemy are left with no way to stop the attack. Another awesome unit is Boris, the new hero unit for the Soviets. Some people claim that Boris will be a worthless unit; I disagree. First of all his MIG airstrikes will destroy any building with one shot; and all he needs to do is sit back from a long distance and watch. This leaves many opportunities to hide him and then slowly destroy an enemy base. The industrial plant will be completely needed in this new game, allowing Soviets to build tanks with 25% of the cost and build time depleted, giving them just the edge they need in long games...
At some point in the day, on the computer to the right of me, one of the Development Team members, from Westwood Studios, started up the demo of CNC: Renegade about an hour after I had started playing YR. It looked like it had a lot to offer; although I'm not a FPS player, I still thought it looked pretty interesting: so I watched the Westwood Employee play the demo. She talked about the different kind of strategies in the game.. The type of gameplay that she was showing us was designed demonstrate the general strategy of the game (an interesting thing to watch in FPS games). Watching Renegade reminded me of watching my friends play Half-Life and Rainbow Six, both Strategy-FPS games. Overall, Renegade looks like it will be the first FPS that I would actually play more than once; make sure you watch out for it.
At some point I looked across the room and noticed that this was the kind of event we all need every now and then - being able to hang out with all different types of gamers, and not have them rub you off because you aren't in the same class as them. This being the first event of its kind I had ever been to, it felt great to be there. They even laid on some good pizza! The only problem being that I never found out how good it was because it all disappeared in under 10 minutes whilst I was busy playing YR! I regretted thinking I could come back later and grab some pizza, but I had, and it was gone. So, instead of pizza I left IceLAN for a while and had some Carl's Jr. for lunch. After lunch Chris started to announce that the tournament was going to begin soon, and announced all of the prizes:
1st Place = A choice of one of the posters of YR, and a Joystick.
2nd Place = A script from the game signed by Tanya, Yuri, and the Dev Team.
3rd Place = A Special Edition version of YR with the signatures of Tanya and Yuri.
4th Place = A Special Edition version of YR with the signatures of the Dev Team.
5th Place = A joystick.
6th Place = A mousepad.
Although some of these prizes were very extravagant, my performance in the tournament was not; having succumbed to defeat in the first match in under 13 minutes! The tournament was split up into a bunch of 4 player free for all's. I rarely play free for all's making it hard for me to get going properly; also against me was the fact that the map everyone played was the Official Tournament Map, a map I know nothing about. All of these facts spelled certain doom for me, but I didnt mind, I got to play the game with people that were just as adamant about the game as I was. Then afterwards I had the opportunity of talking to these people. That's what mattered...
On the way home I felt the day was complete; nothing was missing from the event. It was well planned out and certainly a lot of fun. I don't think there was any other way that I could have used my time better at the weekend than with those fellow gamers.