Unlike most videogame sequels, the Colony Wars series has been pretty consistent in terms of overall quality of the graphics and gameplay, and Colony Wars III- Red Sun is no exception. This time out, Psygnosis' Leeds Studio did the honors, and they've injected a little humor into the mix. From the sawed-off stubby spaceships you get to pilot, to the droll warning messages scattered throughout the game, things are a lot less grim this time out as far as certain elements go. Some may cringe at the shift, but good as they are; the other two games do get rather broody at times.
The main story is a bit odd, and takes a bit of wading through the missions to spell it out, but it's a doozy. Playing as Valdemar, you suddenly find yourself chosen to save the universe from some enigmatic danger, but the thing is, you don't have any idea of how to go about it. Odd dreams full of strange, alien figures, and a mysterious man who keeps popping up and giving you things to do compel you to take on and complete this weighty task. Anyway, the gameplay is just like the last two, except that you can now save between missions, and you can choose which missions to accept in almost any order. This gives players the ability to create their own adventure- to a point. Each area has a certain mission that's linked to the main storyline, and completing this mission gets you a FMV clip that advances both the plot, and you to the next part of the galaxy. The problem is- if you're not paying attention for some reason or another, you'll miss a story point or two, because most of the scenes aren't all that long, some are a bit vague, and chances are, you didn't remember the last scene anyway. It's like, "oh yeah, there's supposed to be a plotline here…" Perhaps the option to replay the movies should have been included, but I guess that's for the PS2 sequel.
Graphically, the game looks just as good as CW: Vengeance, with a bigger splash of color in some spots. The usual Psygnosis lens flares and colored lighting are along for the ride, and each of the new worlds you visit has a different look to it, for the most part. The current Playstation is just about of graphic tricks, so the bag used here won't blow you away as much as it did two years ago. The game controls a bit tighter than the previous games, and the tutorial is a big laugh- two really simple missions that most players can probably finish with one hand tied behind their backs and a blindfold on. The focus is obviously on getting new players and old to jump right in and play the game. Some of the early missions are ridiculously easy, and for the most part the game really isn't as difficult or frustrating as the other two, thanks to the aforementioned save system.
That's not to say that the game is a total cakewalk, though. A few of the missions have you going up against massive starships with dozens of smaller fighters out to turn you into space dust, or trying to protect convoys of refugees from being destroyed, and if you're not prepared, you'd better break out the aspirin. The last couple of missions are a real nightmare, but you can actually get there with a lot less gray hairs than in the other games. Just like the other games, the music is simply splendid- a bit too bombastic (and funny) when you're just sitting there doing nothing, but you'll find nothing to complain about. Speaking of complaints, other than the way that the games' plot advances, I really have none at all about this game. It's one of those titles that you can get comfortable with, and spend a good deal of quality time with without a lot of disappointment.
What more can I say? Colony Wars III- Red Sun is a great finish to a great series on the current Playstation, and I can't wait to see what new and exciting worlds Psygnosis has in store for us on the PS2.
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