Command & Conquer: Red Alert - A Path Beyond is a total conversion mod for the under-rated Command & Conquer: Renegade that has since become a standalone game. For those unfamiliar with Renegade, it was Westwood's attempt at bringing its classic RTS series into the FPS realm. While the single-player campaign was fun, Renegade was ahead of its time in terms of multiplayer.
In multiplayer, each player was assigned to one of two teams, each having a base that includes a Construction Yard, Power Plant, a Refinery, a Barracks, and a War Factory, along with various defense buildings. Each building provides its own special aspect to the player's arsenal which can be purchased using purchase terminals located throughout the base. For instance, the Barracks allows you to become a stronger infantry unit, the War Factory allows you to build vehicles, the Refinery allows your team's harvester to collect resources lying around the map, and the Power Plant supplies power to your defense buildings. Gameplay involved using various vehicles and tactics to destroy the opposing team's buildings. Knocking out even a single building such as the enemy War Factory gains your team a huge advantage.
While Renegade was huge fun, many players disliked it for being set in the Tiberium Universe of Command & Conquer and instead wished for it to be set in the more popular Red Alert Universe. A Path Beyond is the result of that desire and successfully transfers the gameplay of Renegade into Red Alert canon (it's name being based off the very first skirmish map in Red Alert). As you can imagine, fans will immediately recognize their favorite units from the game such as the colossal Soviet Mammoth Tank or the sexy and deadly Allied specialist, Tanya. A Path Beyond even includes units from the expansions such as the Tesla Trooper.
What separated A Path Beyond from other mods at the time was its extension of the engine upon which Renegade was created. The developers included features once thought impossible such as naval combat. Since then, support for the original Renegade has shut down, but A Path Beyond still lives on as a standalone game, with its engine being constantly developed. However, even with the improvements, the Renegade Engine has not aged well over the years and the the gameplay suffers greatly because of it.
Here's what the reviewers had to say:
I recall playing A Path Beyond back when it was known as Renegade Alert (or RenAlert, as most of us called it) and had only three or so maps, one of which was a killer infantry-only map with tons of vegetation and pickups. I had so much fun with the game that I suggested it to all of my friends and went through the painstaking process of walking them through the installation of the mod. All of that has changed over the years. A Path Beyond now boasts a painless setup executable, a nice server and news browser, and standalone capability; no longer requiring the installation of Command & Conquer: Renegade. However, along the road of its continual improvement, A Path Beyond has lost the charm it once had. I may be biased due to my history with it, but I feel the balance issues in the older versions have been over-corrected and have brought the fun factor down to near nonexistent. Unit movement has slowed to a crawl, with vehicles offering very little improvement; you can't kill anything with anything else due to every vehicle's damage being toned down and armor raised up; and neither SoupHat and I could kill anything even with the sniper rifle, as the aiming system is the exact opposite of smooth when it comes to precision.
I enjoyed A Path Beyond at first. The more I played, however, the more I noticed that my level of boredom was increased exponentially. Most maps place the two enemy bases incredibly far from each other, and heavy attack vehicles are slow to drive. Heck, even the fast vehicles can be a chore to drive all the way across the gargantuan barren expanse to the enemy base! Because of this, A Path Beyond often feels like fifteen-second shootouts strung together by five-minute long treks from point A to point B. This isn't helped by the fact that some of these shootouts aren't very entertaining. On foot it seems like you can't hit the broad-side of a magnet factory while shooting iron bullets, much less a moving human target. On the optimistic side, there is little-to-no respawn wait-time, so you can be back on your feet almost instantly. On the pessimistic side, this second life will probably involve a long trek to harm absolutely no enemies, and a quick, painful death that you cannot prevent.
A Path Beyond's biggest pitfall, which we both agree on, is its slow pacing. We don't mean just the unit movement, but the end-round requirements. In order for a team to win, they must destroy all of the opponent's buildings. The problem is that many times your opponent will knock out all of your key structures like the Barracks or War Factory early in the game, leaving you with nothing to buy from the purchase terminals. "What's wrong with that?" you may ask. Well, once your ability to buy better units is gone, the game becomes a simple matter of waiting for the next ten minutes until the enemy has finished destroying the rest of your base. As you can imagine, there's a point in every round where your screaming at the computer: "JUST KILL US ALREADY!". The worst part is that this happens in almost EVERY round, so expect a lot of boredom in the latter half of each game.
Overall, A Path Beyond is a great game if you want to relive the nostalgia of Command & Conquer: Red Alert in an FPS environment. There's no doubt that it's cool to see your favorite game played at eye level; however, poor pacing and a dated engine make the experience unfulfilling.