Since the original release of Red Alert there have been several official updates and add-ons to it. Here is a list of all the different versions of RA that I know of. Each of the version numbers also have various language versions which are represented by extra letters after them.
You can see your version of Red Alert on the main menu screen at the bottom just after loading Red Alert.

Red Alert v1.04 - This is the original Red Alert which you should have on the CD you originally bought. As far as I know there were no earlier versions of RA released to the public. This version is the main part of Red Alert and you don't need anything else to play single player and multiplayer games, although I think to play over Westwood chat you will need to install a patch. It comes with an old version of Westwood Chat for playing multiplayer games over the internet, but this now needs to be updated by downloading the new version when you connect to Westwood Chat (free).

Red Alert v1.06 - I have heard this version mentioned sometimes although I have never actually seen it. If anyone knows about it please let me know. Perhaps it was the first patch Westwood released which got superseded by v1.08?

Red Alert v1.07 - Otherwise known as the first official companion disk, Counterstrike. This version comes on another CD and contains some updates to Red Alert to help with some graphics problems and other glitches. It also includes new missions and some new units in some of the missions. The new new units are actually only changes to the Rules.ini and mission files, with the exception of the 'hidden' Giant Ant missions. Many people say this companion disk was too little too late because new missions and rules changes were already available for free on the internet. The Giant Ant missions were a nice touch though as they explained what was going on in the Morse Code at the bottom of the original Red Alert handbook. It also comes with a newer version of Westwood Chat than on the original CD, but this is now so old it needs to be updated by downloading the new version when you connect to Westwood Chat.

Red Alert v1.08 - This is the main Red Alert official patch. It sorts out several minor problems with some graphics and/or sound cards. I believe you now need this patch in order to play over Westwood Chat but I'm not 100% certain of this. This patch is free to download and if you are having any problems with RA it's probably worth giving it a try. You don't need CounterStrike in order to install this patch. This patch also allows mission and rules.ini programmers to add Name tags to their units and to have more messages in the tutorial.ini file (as does the Counterstrike v1.07). If you don't want the Giant Ant units and their missions then you may as well get this free patch instead of buying CounterStrike.

Red Alert v2.00 - Otherwise known as the second official companion disk, Aftermath. This version comes on CD and contains some updates to the game engine, but more importantly adds 7 (well, more than 7 really) new units to Red Alert which can be used in multiplayer games and in missions. You also get the ability to play Megamaps (126x126 squares for those in the know) which make multiplayer games much more strategic! Unfortunately even the version of Westwood Chat that comes with Aftermath now needs to be updated before it can be used. Many people said that Aftermath was better than CounterStrike but still didn't warrant the cost. I disagree because Aftermath makes a multiplayer game so much better. The new missions aren't particularly special, although they demonstrate to mission programmers how to use some of the new commands which now exist.

Red Alert v3.00 Beta - This was the one we'd all been waiting for. This new patch gives the ability to play up to 4 players in a multiplayer game of Red Alert over the internet (using Westwood Chat)! It also integrates Westwood chat into the actual Red Alert program so there is no need to load a separate application to talk to people and set up a game. Personally I preferred the old way but maybe that's just me :-) It also adds a few extra features to RA such as new sounds and graphics.
This Beta version was only available to official Westwood Red Alert Beta testers (of which I was one) and is now not available. It has been superceded by v3.03.

Red Alert v3.03 Beta - This patch was available from the official Westwood Studios website in Beta form (as of 19-Feb-1999) and for a while anyone could download it even if they weren't an official beta tester. Presumably the official release would have had a slightly newer version number. Since the patch is now not available on Westwood's website I have added it to the official patches section of RA-Archive downloads. If you download this patch and install it you are doing so at your own risk. I can't imagine it doing anything too bad to your computer but you can't hold me or Westwood responsible if it does :-) You may find problems playing people with older versions of Red Alert if you install this patch so only do so if you know what you are doing and are confident you can re-install Red Alert.

For some reason, Westwood have decided not to officially release the patch. Apparently there were some major bugs in it which could not be fixed so they abandoned the project. If you want to try it out feel free (although remember it's unsupported by me and unsupported by Westwood).

For those of you who haven't tried the new patch here are some of the extras you get:

  • Fully integrated Westwood Online Chat system into Red Alert. No more loading a separate application (Westwood Chat). The button for internet play takes you to an area similar to a network multiplayer game with options for going to different areas like in Westwood Chat. This system requires the use of the Westwood Beta Testing server which has apparently been taken down although there have been occasional reports of it being available again.
  • Rankings of players are displayed next to their name for either the Red Alert or Aftermath tournament system. This makes it easier to find a player of your ability to play against.
  • Improved disconnect statistics (to try and catch out those players who cheat by pulling the plug when they are losing).
  • Other behind the scenes tournament features to help rank the best players.
  • 4 player Red Alert games are now possible over the internet! Play 2 v 2 or play a free for all. It's up to you.
  • Tournament games will probably only be for 1 on 1 games. For more than 2 players you have to play a 'friendly' game :-)
  • A couple of cool things have been added to the actual game as well. Some of the audio, explosions and graphics have been improved to better represent what is going on and be a little more realistic. For instance, the grenadier explosions used to create lots of fire, etc. Now, they produce a loud bang, and a small explosion graphic (which is a more accurate representation).
  • Explosions over water no longer produce a large ball of fire, but instead, a new "water explosion" (I thought this was included in Aftermath but I could be wrong)
  • You can use certain sound effects in the Chat room to emphasise what you are saying. (Anyone who has used ICQ chat sessions will know what I mean! :-) )
  • 'Typing "/8playergames" allows you to create 8 player games when using the 4 player patch! Although lag would be high in most cases, I actually fought in a full speed 8 player game!' Thanks to Richard Campbell for this.

Author: Brian Bird
Source: IncREDible Alert
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