The Red Star PS2 Review

It’s common knowledge that most games in the modern age are easy to get on with, and this is a sharp contrast when compared to previous gaming generations that have now gone by. Sometimes we wonder how we tolerated the 8-bit and 16-bit eras of gaming, as they were both eras that offered some brutally difficult games. If you have pined for the return of these days, then maybe The Red Star will offer up that rare challenge that you have been looking for.

The Red Star is based on the comic series of the same name, although its gaming history has been a somewhat turbulent one. First brought under fruition from the guiding hand of the then-wilting Acclaim, in 2004 just before the game was due to hit the shelves the America-based publisher/developer finally fell into financial ruin, and The Red Star then disappeared off the gaming radar for quite some time. Having been salvaged by Take-Two and XS Games from Acclaim’s sunken ship , The Red Star has finally been released at a fair and sensible budget price, and guess what? It’s a very playable throwback to gaming past!

With that frequently told history lesson out of the way lets get on with what’s important. In a nutshell, The Red Star is a graphically basic and somewhat skeleton game when sized up with other modern titles, although it’s this retro-styled simplicity that has obviously earned the game a following amongst the more hardcore of gaming fans.

At the beginning of the game you are given the option of one of two characters to choose from, each of which have their strengths and weaknesses to consider. The nimble Makita and the bulky Kyuzo may be unfamiliar to those who are unaware of The Red Star comics, although does this really matter when the game is lacking in any plot development and that it simply involves you tearing through the enemy ranks? Of course it doesn’t. A third playable character (Maya Antares) also becomes playable once you do the unthinkable and complete the game.

You’ll swear like a trooper. You’ll stamp your feet like a five-year-old. And you’ll refuse to play the evil game again before you give in and decide to give it a final chance for the 50th time.

Yes, The Red Star is a uncompromisingly difficult game that throws everything but the kitchen sink at you as you make your way through the tightly confined linear levels. It’s not until the first boss that you truly discover just how demanding the game is on your attention and how much that your finger reactions shall be tested. You’ll most probably die, and when you do, you are thrown straight back to the beginning of the current level, with not a single safe haven of a checkpoint to be found anywhere. It’s really quite fortunate that you aren’t dropped straight in at the deep end then, as the game does school you first on all the actions that are available to you.

You have your melee and ranged gun (complete with infinite ammo) attacks as your basics, whilst the protocol attack can be summoned once a meter is full, in which a single button press then does some quite serious damage to your enemies. Guarding is meanwhile done by the use of a shield, and you’ll soon learn that it will rescue you from many binds, particularly those big brutal boss fights, which unmercifully and regularly leave you gasping for air as you attempt to catch yourself a breather from all the wonderful on-screen chaos.

Perhaps we should be thankful that a second player can join you in your impossible mission then, and it’s with another player where many will enjoy it most, or rather, to share their pains and frustrations with one another. Whatever the case may be, The Red Star is a thoroughly enjoyable old fashioned action game. It’s with little doubt that the difficulty will overwhelm many, although regardless of this merciless nature, there’s a particular audience that will buy into everything that the game stands for.