Home | News | Reviews | Previews | Hardware
Colony Wars III: Red Sun
Score: 89%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Psygnosis
Developer: Psygnosis
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Shooter/ Action

Graphics & Sound:
The graphics in Colony Wars III: Red Sun are pretty much the same that we saw in Colony Wars: Vengeance, although the full motion video is of a higher notch, and the in-game graphics are slightly sharper. You’d have to really be looking, though, to really see much of a difference. The Colony Wars series has always been noted for pumping out pretty much everything that the PlayStation is capable of, and Red Sun does the same. Unfortunately, it makes it feel a whole lot like the other two games as well. Yes, the ships are bigger, and the graphics are brighter, but it still feels, graphically at least, like a slightly revamped Vengeance. (Oh. That’s what it is? Hrm.)

On the sound front, there are good things and bad things. I really like the game’s Williamsian music, with orchestral thrums and crescendos that really get you pumped for action. But where are my voice-overs? I want all my pre-mission and in-mission voice-overs back! Arg. I can still remember the sultry computer female voice from the first Colony Wars. Sure, it took up lots of space on the disk, but it was very cool. The graphical interface is the same Spartan, half-woxil style that the Colony Wars series has always used (which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, the developers of Wipeout and Colony Wars being one and the same).

Thankfully, Red Sun has the gameplay to back up the franchise. You are Valdemar, participating in the fight between the League of Free Worlds and the Imperial Navy, but never truly picking a side. Along the way, your destiny as the savior of the universe unfolds, both in pre-mission briefings and pre-rendered CG. And it all has to deal with the majestic Red Sun, a massive starship with an unknown purpose.

Sound good? It is. Although the plot is pretty much spoon-fed to you, and the crazy branching mission style of the previous Colony Wars games is lost, Red Sun certainly delivers on the gameplay. You’ll be flying your fighter both in space and over planet surfaces, on a variety of odd jobs for, well, whoever’s willing to pay you. Each location presents you with a list of possible jobs, and as you complete them, you rack up both money and ranking. Money allows you to buy upgrades to your ship weaponry, refill expendable ammo (missiles, flares, etc.), and even buy new ships. The higher your ranking, the niftier ships and weapons you can purchase. It all works out really well, and makes you really explore each mission for as many enemies to take down as possible, so that you get the most cash and the highest ranking possible. The additional fun of being able to tweak your ship, adding heat sinks, new guns, or whatever you like, is also quite fun. And the missions themselves are usually quite intriguing, from protecting a convoy to blowing the utter crap out of baddies in space.

Unfortunately, the game just doesn’t feel as complete as it should. Some of the in-game text looks like it was written at the last minute, with odd typos and lack of pronunciation. And, despite the addition of purchasable ships and weaponry, the game is really an old sheep in a new growth of wool.

Thank the gods that the old sheep kicked so much ass, eh?

Ah! A definite improvement over Vengeance, Colony Wars III: Red Sun starts out quite easy and ramps up the difficulty gently, getting difficult, but never impossible. This is a very, very nice change from the last game, where you’d throw the controller down in frustration after the, oh, third mission or so. The ability to change your load-out and ships to what you desire is another advantage, letting you tailor the game to your own style of combat.

Game Mechanics:
The controls in Red Sun are spot on, especially if you do as I do and use the left analog pad, shoulder buttons, and gamepad buttons as a control scheme. Red Sun really lends itself to an analog-digital mix; a nice blend of control and precision. (And to think, I used to play the first Colony Wars with both sticks... ack!). The game engine itself is tight, if aging, with good graphics and a pleasantly distant fill-in. There are odd ‘glitches,’ though, mainly occurring because you can see a blinking light whenever a ship is too far away to be rendered. Especially on the planet missions, you’ll see blinking lights of ships that are through walls and otherwise not in your line of sight. A minor gripe, however.

If you like this type of game, or did until the insane difficulty that was Vengeance, you should definitely give Colony Wars III: Red Sun a shot. Sure, it may be the same old thing with a few new tricks, but no one’s ever done a console shooter better than Psygnosis with the Colony Wars series.

-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

This site best viewed in Internet Explorer 6 or higher or Firefox.