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The Red Star (PS2) Positive! by Belbo Jacopo 07/18/2007, 8:26pm PDT
Here I thought God Hand was going to be the last great game of the PS2 reviled by reviewers, here's The Red Star. It doesn't suffer the 5/10 and below thrashing that God Hand got, being instead relegated to the 7/10 purgatory of dull games, but when you look at the pro/con capsules at the start of every review it's pretty clear what's weighing this game down:

Professional game reviewers wrote:

PRO: Fun original inventive gameplay with 2 player co-op that seamlessly mixes two seemingly incompatible action genres.

CON: But the red star's setting and characters are from a famous graphic novel that I'm a big fan of and they do nothing with the plot and BOO HOO SNOTBUBBLES!

Yes, those of you coming to enjoy the game's world-shatteringly awesome plot will be sadly disappointed. All I can tell is that the game takes place in some alternate universe Soviet Union where Magic and High technology exist side by side!!! What little plot you get is presented in text briefings accompanied by a still comicbook picture of a guy with his mouth wide open saying something about how in the next area there's a bunch of guys who need to be punched and if you can pull this off we'll be one step closer to toppling our evil enemy, Troika. So the plot I made up to fill in the holes is that you're playing Ivan Drago and his wife who, after he lost to Rocky Balboa, lost his hair and moved to a beet collective where he diligently saved his precious rubles for years until he could buy a western video game, made the mistake of buying Arcanum, and now he wants REVENGE!

The first level tricks you into thinking this will be another Final Fight with a combat system lying somewhere between Devil May Cry and God of War in terms of complexity, complete with gun weapons. The game prevents you from just spamming the guns by giving them an overheat bar and giving half the enemies anti-bullet shields. Then the game starts throwing in miniboss robot airplane tanks and you're exchanging gunfire as they shoot bullet-hell shmup boss patterns at you. So you think the game is just going to alternate between double dragon and 1942 Strikers. But then in the later levels it all comes together when the game starts making you do both at the same time. It's suprisingly doable and really fun, too!

While the game does nothing to develop the playable characters plot-wise, gameplay-wise they play and control totally different, with Ivan Drago specializing in slow buildup group-clearing moves with his giant darth maul broadswords, and Drago's wife specializing in super-fast stick-and move single enemy combos with her hammer and sickle (natch). There's also a mysterious thrid character that unlocks after the game is finished (Mickey? You're a bum, kid!) who specializes in long range sorcery 0_o. And when you upgrade weapons and armor, there's a visible change in your character's model. Did I mention this game has 2-player co-op? And the best part is that since the game is constantly swinging back and forth between brawler with bullet dodging and shmup with punching, it avoids becoming repetitive.

For downsides that actually matter, know that the game starts out pretty easy (then again I play the shit out of DMC3 and God Hand) but the difficulty increases steadily and cumulatively and by about level 6 (short levels) you learn that this game is as forgiving as comrade stalin. You get one life per level, period. No chechpoints, but the game does miserly dole out health packs that grant 50% health after each miniboss. The ONLY way you get money for upgrades is from your ranking at the end of each level which is either based on the amount of life you lose or the number of times you get hit, so if you're struggling with a level, you start the next one at an even bigger disadvantage (protip: if you're playing for the first time and having trouble, save up the first couple levels and make your first upgrade the one that restores life with successful melee strikes. It will pay for itself. Finally, the game could use a slightly better tutorial because it doesn't quite bring across the kind of combos you can flexibly string together.

For $20 you could do far far worse. If you like Brawlers and Shmups this game is highly recommended.
The Red Star (PS2) Positive! by Belbo Jacopo 07/18/2007, 8:26pm PDT
    What if you like coop games? NT by Jhoh Clbbl O_____O 07/18/2007, 8:40pm PDT
        Then it sucks. NT by Belbo Jacopo 07/18/2007, 8:55pm PDT
            What other games are ruined by people who enjoy the occasional coop? NT by Grumah 07/18/2007, 9:18pm PDT
                Demonstone by Fahbs 07/18/2007, 9:26pm PDT
    Re: The Red Star (PS2) Positive! by Fahbs 07/18/2007, 9:22pm PDT
    Important by JAPANESE AND CHINESE CALLIGRAPHY 07/18/2007, 9:46pm PDT
        Re: Important by Belbo Jacopo 07/18/2007, 10:01pm PDT
    Final Verdict: This game is pure Satan. by Belbo Jacopo 08/12/2007, 6:48pm PDT
        Maybe it never ends, like geometry wars? (that would suck) NT by Grumah 08/13/2007, 4:40am PDT
        Nevermind. It's Awesome. by Belbo Jacopo 08/14/2007, 10:21pm PDT
    This was a decent budget title by FABIO 01/11/2008, 10:34pm PST
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