It's a clever idea, one that you might say Ensemble riffed with the Xbox 360 exclusive RTS Halo Wars. Base and army building, which has the potential to be hugely frustrating in console RTS games, is manageable here because of it. It's nowhere near as intuitive or as quick as in the PC version of course, but no-one really expected it to be, did they?
Where RA3 falters somewhat is in the micro-management of troops. The paintbrush unit selection tool (again reminiscent of Halo Wars) is difficult to use accurately. More often than not you select troops you don't want to select, or fail to select the ones you want. Actually selecting a unit or structure individually is nigh on impossible because the targeting reticule is so small and camera movement is so loose. Yes, you'll snap to units and the Sixaxis pad will rumble when you move over units and buildings, but that's not enough to make it work in the heat of battle.
Using units' special abilities is a convoluted process. You need to have the unit selected, hold R1 then press Square to activate it. Quickly switching between special abilities is key to how RA3 plays - pretty much every unit, including your structures, has one - and they're imperative for quickly adapting to enemy attacks. So, for example, the Empire's Striker-VX can transform Transformers-style from a ground-based anti-air unit into an air-based anti-ground unit. Because of the complexity in triggering secondary abilities, you feel like you're trying to micro-manage your troops with your feet instead of your hands. So while Command Stick is largely successful, it doesn't prevent you feeling that the game would be better played on PC. This isn't a vicious dig at EALA: no developer has created a console RTS that has achieved this. It's doubtful one ever will.
Beyond the control revamp the game remains largely the same as the one PC and Xbox 360 owners enjoyed last November. There are five brand new multiplayer maps, and the skirmish online mode translates well from the PC version. The co-op campaign, however, isn't as successful. You have to manually check co-op campaign game invites sent from PSN friends from within the game menu, which is an unnecessary barrier. Because of this you need to set-up gaming sessions with friends - there's no option to search for randoms to play the campaign with. This is a huge problem - why have a co-op campaign at all if there's no matchmaking to support it?
Hardcore fans will be delighted by the extras, though. There's an hour of PS3 exclusive behind the scenes videos and trailers, including a genuinely funny bloopers and outtakes film, a useful Command School tactics and strategy video, a clip that goes in depth on every single unit and the official Red Alert 3 soundtrack. There's also a PS3-dedicated BattleCast PrimeTime film, which is likely to annoy as many people as it will please.
PS3 owners will be pleased to learn that the crippling slowdown that afflicted the 360 version has been sorted for the Ultimate Edition. Of more concern are the shoddy graphics - the game has a stylised, almost cartoon look, which is fine and even works well in places (the water's great and the explosions are impressive), but up close the game betrays its rough graphical foundations. On occasion it even looks ugly, with pixels too prominent and textures bland.
Essentially the Ultimate Edition isn't that much different to what's gone before. It's better than the 360 version on account of the improved technical performance, but, as with so many console RTS', it's got nothing on the PC version. If you're a PS3 owner looking for a solid RTS with good controls, this is the best the console has to offer. If you've got both "next-gen" consoles, Halo Wars is still the daddy.