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iPhone  header logo

Red Star

For: iPhone

Blasting action from behind the Iron Curtain

Product: Red Star | Developer: XS Games | Format: iPhone | Genre: Action | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0
 
Red Star iPhone, thumbnail 1
The considerable horsepower within iPhone and iPod touch has been leveraged for some gorgeous games, but it also has had another, possibly unexpected, side-effect: forgotten gems get to enjoy a new lease of life.

Hot off the heels of the brilliant Carnivores: Dinosaur Hunter - a port of a PC title from 1998 - comes Red Star.

A PlayStation 2 original backed by a relatively high-profile comic book series, it's the sort of stuff that sounds perfect for hardcore iPhone gaming - and it is, if you could discount the awkward controls.

For Mother Russia


Set in an alternative future where Russia is ruled by a cunning mixture of mechanical and magical might, Red Star is a curious mixture of shooter and side-scrolling fighter with both ranged and melee attacks levelled against a selection of determined minions and their gigantic bosses.

Touching anywhere on the left-hand side of the screen creates a temporary analogue stick with which to move. Double-tapping allows you to lock-on to enemies directly in front, while tapping relevant buttons on the right-hand side of the screen executes ranged and close-quarter attacks.

There are also blocking and special Protocol moves, super-powerful offensive manoeuvres capable of dishing out incredible amounts of damage.

Nice shooting, comrade


This medley of offensive and defensive commands see you through a multitude of levels, all of which showcase stunning 3D visuals and incredible detail. When you’re slogging through massive military citadels and taking down bosses so large the screen has to zoom out to fit them all in, its console origins are abundantly clear.

It’s not just the graphics that make an impression: the game’s stern challenge is just as likely to leave a mark. Although the opening level serves as an introduction to control system and basic abilities, it’s nonetheless hard to successfully pass and this punishing pattern is adhered to throughout the course of the adventure.

Yet, with a bit of determination you soon begin to realise that progression in Red Star relies heavily on mastering your various talents. You have to get used to switching effortlessly between ranged and melee combat, as well as mixing things up with some well-time blocking moves to avoid getting torn up by bullets and blades.

Cold War

Getting the hang of these mechanics is made tougher by the fact that the controls aren’t nearly as responsive as the controller for which the game was originally designed. The action buttons are packed together too tightly on the right-hand side of the screen.

During an intense boss encounter it’s all too easy to tap the wrong symbol, which obviously breaks your groove and can usually have fatal consequences. When losing all of your health means being dropped way back to the start of the level, it's unsurprising just how frustrating this can be.

It’s fantastic that Red Star is getting another chance to reach its intended audience via this iPhone port, but there’s no escaping the fact that it’s a game which was designed around the accurate and timely responsiveness of a standard joypad and not the often unpredictable touchscreen.
 
Red Star
Reviewer photo
Damien McFerran | 2 July 2010
Red Star boasts astonishing production values and challenging gameplay, but the tacked-on touch controls and unforgiving difficulty are frustrating
 
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