Ring of Red
Review of Ring of Red
Ring of Red thrusts gamers into an alternate reality where Japan did not surrender when they did in WW2. The events that take place and alliances that are made in this universe show a totally different world where Japan has been split into Northern and Southern regions (kind of like North and South Vietnam). Tension is building as the people wish to reunite the country while Governments and politics strive to further divide the nations.
As the war continued past the 1940s and into the 50s, new weapons were constructed to specifically traverse the Japanese terrain. These weapons were called AFWs (Armored Fighting Walkers). Basically AFWs are large mechanized beasts that are piloted by humans. These mechs were able to better traverse the various types of Japanese terrain and could also deliver an incredible amount of firepower.
The war finally subsided and we get forwarded to 1964 where tensions between the North and South nations are at an all time high. Newly developed secret prototype AFWs are being developed and tested. Suddenly a top secret classified AFW from the South is stolen by a character called the Crimson Phantom and Wei (your character) is recruited to get the sucker back!
The game contains a nice menu interface that steps you briskly through the games features so things can get started right up. As the story progresses you are bought through training missions (the Prologue) to learn the control system and how the game plays. There are a lot of sub menus to explore that will also provide a wealth of information and insight into the way the game plays and new characters, moves and units are being constantly updated so it is a good idea to visit these menus often (usually before each forte).
Ring of Red certainly starts out simply enough with gamers getting the feel for their AFWs and being introduced to the core characters of the game. Difficulty (and pure enjoyment) ramp up considerably as you progress though so it is a good idea to become familiar with things early on so you are better equipped to survive in the later missions.
The fun really starts to pick up when you get assigned multiple infantry units that have very specific responsibilities. Some units excel in close combat against other ground units while others specialize in taking out AFWs with grenades or missile launchers. Try to imagine a living screen with little soldiers running around among giant mechanized beasts of steel you will start to get a good picture of the action that is taking place in this game.
Things really start to get hairy as the game progresses and you are in control of multiple teams of infantry units. Gamers will need to place the appropriate squads in the correct areas to be successful. Med techs, Shooters, Infantry, Supply, Recon. and Mechanics all play critical roles at any given moment of the game.
To further up the tension level and immerse gamers in the action, Ring of Red has other active combat elements thrown in for good measure. One of these becomes immediately apparent…as your AFW begins to target and lock onto another unit a target screen will appear. A hit percentage will pop up starting with a chance for a successful hit number that depends on the distance to the target and your characters current skill level. The hit percentage continues to rise the longer you hold out…but heres the kicker…the longer you take to fire, the more time you give the enemy AFW to zero in on your AFW. There is also a mission clock counting down so you had better learn to carefully balance firing off a shot and causing more damage to your opponent before time runs out. Oh, the AFW can also be moved during this event either forward or backward (or Dodged once you get that skill). Moving backward at the appropriate moment actually helps in avoiding enemy gunfire!
New skills are learned as players gain experience. These skills can be put to good use on the AFWs in the form of new moves such as Dodge, Rapid Punch, Emergency Load, etc. The game is also played out over day and night missions. Playing a night mission further degrades your hit shot accuracy and adds other elements into the mix, but there are skills that can be learned to improve the odds a bit!
The story presented here is a good one with lots of twists and turns thrown in for good measure. The game itself is also a long one clocking in at over 42 hours; I could have just as easily topped 50 if I had taken certain branching options during the adventure.
Graphically Red of Red shines quite brightly for a strategy style title, but overall I wouldnt say it is tapping much of the PS2s plentiful resources.
The starting grid that is displayed for plotting your moves is pretty standard 2-D fare that appears in many strategy style games. A bit of animation and life for the backgrounds here would have been a nice addition. Then we get to the in-game battles…AFW models are well done but I thought the textures were a little muddy. Also, I expected to see little moving gears and such on the mechs. I mean hell, the PS2 can certainly pump out enough polys to allow for this. Even the backgrounds were kind of blurry or smeared. Things could have been done better for sure.
Now for the good stuff… While the AFWs look rather average, they do posses well above average special effects. Little particles of smoke billow convincingly from the AFWs gas powered exhaust pipes. Dust clouds puff around each footfall the giants make and the wonderful use of lighting and particle effects for the weapons will leave you most impressed.
Things also pick up considerably when you start commanding ground infantry. The character models here are very nicely done and animated. It is a real blast watching all the little people running around the battleground during the melee. So, overall the graphics are tremendous for a game of this type…topped only by Kessen…but there is still much room for improvement.
The sound effects and music are terrific! From the grandiose music to the sounds of war, KCE/Konami did an excellent job covering their bases on this title. The musical score manages to touch the right emotional cords at all of the appropriate moments (what more could you ask for), and just listening to all of the sound effects from the ensuing volleys brought a tear to my ear and a lump to my cold, dark heart.
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'Ring of Red' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
This review was written by Tom Rooney © Absolute PlayStation
Click here to view our 13 Ring of Red in-game screenshot slideshow
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