The Red Star (PS2)

by PaulEMoz

The Red Star was a game I was looking forward to for ages. I read a few previews, and thought it looked and sounded really good. And then... the publisher went bankrupt. The game seemed stuck in limbo forever, and there were frequently rumours that it wouldn't get a release at all.

That would have been an awful shame, but fortunately the game did hit the shops, and we're much the better for it.

The Red Star is apparently based on a graphic novel. I'll be honest... I know nowt about that. I'm not a big follower of graphic novels. But if it's as entertaining as the game... well, maybe it's a good place to start.

It's hard to describe this game. It doesn't fall into any neat little pigeonholes. It's got bits of all sorts going on. You're fighting an evil army, that much is for sure. There's an array of bad guys... some require you to get up close and personal, and give them a good kicking, whereas some are better off being taken out from a distance with weaponry. Some have shields. Some are huge. There are people, tanks, gunships... like I said, all sorts.

What The Red Star does is keep you off balance. You never get settled. It's constantly throwing surprises at you. You'll be moving in one direction, using melee combat, then maybe the floor will give way and you'll need to move in another direction, blasting enemies... then perhaps a boss will appear at an unexpected moment. You're never comfortable. It constantly keeps you engaged and on your toes. And it's all done with loads of style. As the levels shifted and changed, with bosses being thrown in from out of nowhere, I had a huge grin on my face. It's fantastic fun.

I'm pretty sure that The Red Star won't have sold anywhere near as well as it should have, probably because of its troubled release. It certainly deserved better, as it's one of the more exciting games I've played in a long time. I'd actually urge anyone to seek this one out. GAME often have it for a fiver or less, as do Gamestation, although you might have to settle for a pre-owned copy. Doesn't matter, get it either way. It's a real gem.