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Hands-on : The Red Star - PS2

by Steven Williamson on 22 March 2007, 13:04

Tags: Take-Two Interactive (NASDAQ:TTWO), Shoot 'em up

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Dodge those lasers...again

In all fairness, combat is pretty smooth and there are some half decent options at your fingertips to help you plough through the attacking hordes. A standard melee attack, which you can press three times in order to pull off a powerful combo, is made slightly more interesting by a melee metre. If you fill up the metre, by bashing as many as you can, rather than using your shooter, the metre fills up and then you can use a special protocol attack which allows you to impale an enemy and then twirl him around to knock out others around you. The metre theme continues with a heat metre, which fills up when you use your gun to excess and will disengage once full. Finally, there’s also a shield metre, which also fills up should you use your shield too often and disengages for a short period leaving you vulnerable to attack. As you approach enemies you can press select to view information on them which provides clues on their weakness. It’s totally pointless though. I can give you a tip without referring to it at all. If an enemy is holding a shield use a melee attack, if they are not, use your laser gun. On occasions, you need to combine the two attack methods due to the action being so chaotic, but more often than not it's a brainless, button bashing, repetitive slog; an under par side-scrolling shooter.

The levels I played followed the same pattern and the action quickly became repetitive. After smashing and shooting your way through advancing enemies from the tradition side-on view, you’ll inevitably face one of the magical ships or tanks that shoot lasers. Occasionally the camera will switch to an overhead view and the idea is to dodge around the shots until the machine ceases fire. It may then throw a couple of bombs at you which you’ll also have to dodge and finally it will reveal its weak spot for a short period of time, which you’ll need to blast away at in order to wear down the health metre. The high-tech weaponry of the vehicles that you encounter do change as you progress though the levels, but even when I faced a tank and thought there might be a new element to the gameplay, it still fired out lasers from its turrets which I had to dodge. It’s just dull, despite the fast pace.

When the action gets really frantic you may have to combine the dodging of bombs and lasers that blast out of these circling hovering futuristic machines with fighting soldiers from the Red Fleet. This results in you darting around, twisting and turning 360 degrees in order to bash the soldiers whilst moving left, right, up and down to dodge the barrage of lasers and bombs (see above screenshot). These action scenes are probably the most satisfying part of any level that you’ll experience in the game and involve using your shield, melee and lasers in a methodical and timely manner, making sure you don’t disengage your gun and shield metres at inappropriate times. It’s fast, furious and you do need a certain degree of skill in order to defeat the enemy, but it offers nothing new in terms of a gaming experience.