Red Alert 2 Not Working on Windows 11, 10: How to Fix

by Matthew Adams
Matthew Adams
Matthew Adams
Windows & Software Expert
Matthew is a freelancer who has produced a variety of articles on various topics related to technology. His main focus is the Windows OS and all the things... read more
Affiliate Disclosure
  • Red Alert 2 is one the defining games of the RTS genre.
  • It put developer Westwood Studios on the map and even after 20 years, it still retains a fan base of dedicated players.
  • Like with most games from the period, Red Alert 2 has some issues running on Windows 10 & 11 , and for that reason we've put together a guide to help you enjoy this iconic title on new hardware.
  • If your Red Alert 2 crashes, freezes, lags, or simply isn't working, then this article is for you.
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Red Alert 2 is one of the best games of the Command and Conquer series. However, it is also one of the older games in the franchise that predates recent Windows platforms. As such, not all RA 2 players can get the game up and running.

These are a few resolutions that might kick-start Red Alert 2 for Command and Conquer fanatics for whom Red Alert 2 is not working, is crashing, lagging, freezing, or simply running slow.

How can I fix Red Alert 2 not working on Windows?

In this article

Our solutions below work for both Windows 10 and Windows 11 systems. You can safely use them, no matter what version or build you are running.

1. Open the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter

First, check out the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter included in Windows. That troubleshooter can fix compatibility issues for more outdated software. Follow the guidelines below to open the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter.

  1. Press the Type here to search button on the taskbar.
  2. Enter ‘troubleshoot’ in the search box and select Troubleshoot.
  3. Select the Program and Compatibility troubleshooter.
  4. Press the Run the troubleshooter button to open the window in the snapshot below.
  5. Then select Red Alert 2 in the troubleshooter’s software list, and press the Next button.
  6. Wait for the Troubleshooter to investigate the problem.
  7. Check whether the Red Alert 2 not working issue is gone or not.

2. Run Red Alert 2 in Compatibility Mode

  1. First, open the Red Alert 2 folder in File Explorer.
  2. Then right-click the gamemd.exe in File Explorer and select Properties to open the window.
  3. Select the Compatibility tab in the snapshot directly below.
  4. Select the Run this program in compatibility mode for option.
  5. Then select WinXP (Service Pack 3) on the platform drop-down menu.
  6. Select the Run this program as an administrator checkbox on the Compatibility tab.
  7. In addition, adjust the graphical settings by selecting Reduced color mode and 16-bit color from the drop-down menu.
  8. Then click Apply to confirm the new settings, and press the OK button.
  9. Repeat the above guidelines for every exe in your Red Alert 2 folder, such as Ra2.exe, game.exe, YURI.exe and RA2MD.exe.

Red Alert 2 returns a FATAL String Manager failed to initialized properly error for some players who can’t get the game up and running.

Running RA 2 in compatibility mode is a fix more specifically for that error message. You can run RA 2 in compatibility mode as shown above.

3. Configure the Game’s Resolution

Red Alert 2 was designed for lower resolution monitors. Some players have fixed the game by adjusting its resolution to match their current VDU resolutions.

You can configure Red Alert 2’s resolution by editing its RA2.ini file as follows.

  1. Open the Red Alert 2 directory within File Explorer.
  2. Then right-click the RA2.INI file in the Red Alert 2 directory and select Open with.
  3. Select to open RA2.INI with Notepad.
  4. Then edit the ScreenWidth and ScreenHeight values in the RA2.INI file to match your current display resolution.
  5. In addition, edit the VideoBackBuffer attribute to no value. The attribute should be configured as VideoBackBuffer=no.
  6. Click File > Save to save the RA2.INI.
  7. Make the file Read-Only

Just in case you can’t change your game resolution settings, use this step-by-step guide to fix the problem.

On the other hand, if you’re experiencing low-resolution issues, we’ve got your back. Our guide will help you to fix this problem in no time.

4. Adjust Red Alert 2 Game Settings in Origin

  1. If you downloaded Red Alert 2’s Ultimate Collection pack from EA Origin, you might also need to adjust the game’s properties in Origin. Open Origin in Windows and click My Games.
  2. Right-click Red Alert 2 to select Properties on its context menu.
  3. A window will then open that includes a command-line arguments text box. Enter -Win in the text box.
  4. Select the Disable Origin in Game for this game option on the window, and press the OK button.

5. Play Red Alert 2 Multiplayer Games at CnCNet

If you can’t play any RA 2 multiplayer matches in a local network, check out this page on CnCNet. CnCNet provides a fresh multiplayer client for Red Alert 2 that you can download. Note that Red Alert 2 is not included with the CnCNet multiplayer client download.

Aside from the above resolutions, there are also numerous patches available that can fix Red Alert 2 issues. You can download official EA patches for Red Alert 2 from this page. Some of the resolutions in this post might also fix Red Alert 2 crashes.

What issues do players encounter in Red Alert 2?

Given the fact that this is an old game, it is prone to having issues on newer systems. Players have reported various problems, such as: lag issues, crashes, freezes, video problems (including resolution problems), inability to launch the game, etc.

Moreover, some players have even encountered error messages while playing Red Alert 2. Here are some common ones:

  • txt prepare com failed
  • fatal string error
  • string manager failed to initialize properly

That was all. We hope that your issue with Red Alert 2 not working on Windows 10 or Windows 11 and needing a fix was solved by now.

Let us know in the comments section below how the process went and whether you have any further questions.

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