Archives by Day

Heavy Fire: Red Shadow

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action
Publisher: Mastiff
Release Date: Oct. 16, 2018


PS4 Review - 'Heavy Fire: Red Shadow'

by Cody Medellin on Feb. 1, 2019 @ 12:00 a.m. PST

The next installment in the Heavy Fire series, Heavy Fire: Red Shadow offers players non-stop action in a 360° arcade style first-person shooter environment.

If it were a movie, the Heavy Fire series would be the type that would go straight to video without a hint of a theatrical release. The plots are heavy with military patriotism but have no semblance of a plot. The cookie-cutter action has no sense of accomplishment when you finish the game, and the presentation is mediocre at best. Yet the game has an audience since it tries to re-create the light-gun experience that is so rare in the current home console space. Heavy Fire: Red Shadow is the latest game in the series, and it's the first to appear for this current generation of consoles. It also happens to be the game that changes enough about the fundamentals of the series that it becomes a tougher sell in the process.

In keeping with past traditions, the plot in Heavy Fire: Red Shadow is razor-thin. After negotiations with North Korea break down again, the hermit nation decides to continue testing missiles in hopes of eventually going nuclear. When the U.S. develops a program to intercept the missiles, South Korea protests, and after an election, North Korea takes control of both nations. With military firepower behind them, the nation invades its neighbors, starting with Guam. As one of the lone soldiers in the island territory, you take it upon yourself to hold off the forces until reinforcements arrive.

Once you get over the unrealistic plot that's filled with boring cut scenes about surveillance stock footage and badly drawn maps, you get to the heart of the game, which abandons the on-rails, light-gun shooting upon which the series was built. Instead, you're placed in a turret that can rotate 360 degrees and asked to shoot wave after wave of enemies that are coming by land and by sea. The enemy variety sticks to the basics, with infantry carrying machine guns, rocket launchers, or running up to your encampment and blowing themselves up. There are a few trucks that appear to carry more soldiers, and pontoons and other boats perform the same function.

Your lone turret comes with infinite ammo, and while you're in no danger of overheating the gun, you need to reload after expending 200 bullets at a time. You also have a rocket launcher by your side, and while it's powerful, it has a small pool of ammo. Given time, a meter fills up to allow you to call in supply drops for both rocket ammo and health, but saving up that meter lets you call on some infantry to take out soldiers. You can also call upon helicopters to hover and take out enemies or request a bombing run from a jet.

As you kill more enemies, you gain experience, which unlocks boosts, such as regenerating health, an increased health pool, faster reloading of your rocket launcher, and much faster meter fills. To spice things up, you'll also get several timed missions that ask you to kill specific enemies in a short amount of time, and as a reward, you'll get timed boosts, like invincibility or infinite rockets.

On paper, this doesn't sound so bad, almost like something you'd see in an old arcade. In practice, nothing really goes right. For starters, the aiming reticle, which also warns you about enemy positions, is very inaccurate. There are plenty of times when you'll swing to where the indicator says an enemy is located, only to find that you need to swing beyond that indicator position to actually see anyone. As a result, you're better off just holding down the fire button and sweeping the whole area to tag anyone you missed.

The AI is also laughable bad. Enemies only have one strategy: stand around in the open and fire at you until they get killed. New foes occupy that same space and repeat the process, making fights predictable and way too easy when you start to power up and become almost invincible in the back half of the game. Your friendly AI tends to be no better, as they also stand around waiting to be hit, and while you can't kill them yourself, all of your vehicle support will do that job for you, since they can't seem to discern between friend or foe.

The biggest crime that Heavy Fire: Red Shadow commits is how it grossly lengthens the entire experience. Each level consists of too many waves, checkpoints are few and far between, and dying early means having to slog through the same waves for another 20 minutes. The eight stages are actually four stages split into night and day portions, with no difference between them other than the lighting. By the time you finish the nighttime portion of the beach, you're exhausted, and even though the entire campaign is only two hours in length, it feels like the title is way too long for such a shallow experience. By the time you finish it and start endless mode, you have no reason to ever go back.

The game might have one saving grace in the form of PSVR support, but we have no way of telling, since the code supplied to us only gave us the base game. For those who choose to purchase the mode, it's $9.99 — half the cost of the game itself. Based on what we've seen online, that purchase is a waste of money, as the game simply lets you use the headset to get a full view of the environment while forcing you to use the standard DualShock 4 as you do in the non-VR version. With no support for the Move controllers or aiming via looking, this is perhaps one of the worst experiences out there for the PSVR technology.

While the series has never been great in the presentation department, this one is the worst of the bunch, despite being on a more powerful platform. The sparse environments look no more detailed than they do on a Wii, and the explosions don't fare any better. Every part you see is bland, and that includes the omnipresent water. Enemies are indistinguishable from one another, so unless you're blowing up a boat or a truck, your main foes are colored arrows with a vaguely human shape below it. The sound is annoying mostly because the metal groaning of turret rotation and constant gunfire become forgettable noise, while the music reminds you that the game has a soundtrack. The voices are also quite terrible, as the actors try to (loudly) convey bravado with repetitive lines. As a whole, the game wants you to turn down the volume instead of turn it up.

There's a certain audience that'll find Heavy Fire: Red Shadow to be a decent game. For those people, the turret sequences in other shooters must be their favorite part of the game. For everyone else, including fans of the series, Red Shadow is an utter disappointment. From a regression in gameplay to overly long stages and terrible presentation, there's nothing to recommend here, even if you just want to Trophy hunt. Unless you absolutely need to have every game in the console's library, stay as far away from this as possible.

Score: 2.0/10

More articles about Heavy Fire: Red Shadow
blog comments powered by Disqus