Red Dog: Superior Firepower

Red Dog: Superior Firepower
GenreAll-Terrain Mission Based Vehicular Combat, Intricate Level Design, 4-Player
CritiqueUnique Reflective Shields, Tank and Car Controls
RegionNorth America
Release Date11/2000
In Library Complete

     Red Dog is clearly one of those poor casualties of too many quality DC software releases, as it just slipped through the cracks of public awareness. Argonaut, the company that made SNES classics Starfox and Stunt Race FX is the creator, and they went all out on this one.

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     Gameplay Mechanics: If you've played Stunt Race FX you'll be familiar with the way your moon buggy with cannons and rockets performs, only this game is very fast. If not, think monster truck with the ability to rotate while stationary like a tank would. You control your cannons with the analog stick, required for pin point accuracy, and left/right on the analog stick steers the RedDog as well. The Right trigger accelerates, the Left trigger reverses, and double tapping and holding either puts on the turbo which also allows RedDog to do doughnuts around enemies, which creates a similar method of attack as circle strafing for you FPSers.

     Holding both triggers down rotates the RedDog ninety-degrees, and left and right on the analog triggers become strafe left and right, while up/down remains the same. The A-button fires your main weapon, while holding the button downs activates missile targets. Pass the cross hairs over an enemy while holding A and it will lock on, let go of A and a missile fires out in good ol' Panzer Dragoon style. B fires secondary satellite weapons that you pick up on the way, which range from auto-targeting tazer, to rockets and machine guns. X activates a very cool refractive energy shield that covers the front of the RedDog, keep your cross hairs at the offending enemy's weak spot and their own fire will destroy them. Y activates the power up, which you build up energy for by destroying the larger enemies and taking the little black orbs that they leave behind. Complicated enough for ya? I was able to figure all of this out without reading the instructions, and can now, after playing it for only two hours, turbo around the levels powersliding and bouncing off the bumps, while targeting enemies and destroying them with any of my three main weapons.

     The gameplay is solid and stable, even the camera does a remarkable job of tracking the action. Some of the most detailed texture work the year 2000 had to offer will be found in this game.  Somewhat low polycount but still detailed enemy models and long draw distance with detailed scenary at a steady 30FPS that never wavers or stutters even with 10+ enemies on the screen, multiple light sources, weapons fire and explosions.  Sound effects for explosions, weapons fire and music are all good, but just good. There's nothing memorable in the sound really, which could be a good thing if the other choice was for it to be extremely bad.

     Multiplayer 4Player split screen, Deathmatch, Knockout, BombTag, Suicide BombTag, Stealth Assassin, Flag Runner, and King of the Hill modes. Does that get your attention? Good. Added Features So far it seems like it adds an extra mode with each completed level. So far I've gotten a racing level where I have to perform a series of stunts while dodging acid pits in a limited amount of time, and a shooting gallery. Neither of which I've been able to complete yet. The levels, too, are scored at the end with A,B,C or D

     The missions themselves are varied and challenging as well, with stimulating graphic detail, limited or selective pop-up and no frame-rate troubles. There are memorable aspects to each level's design as well. For example there's a part in the second stage where you have to cross a frozen river, with ice blocks floating by at different speeds and an spiked ice breaker at the end of the line on the right. That's right folks, frogger. In the beginning of the same level you can launch yourself off of a high hill, and the camera pulls way back to exaggerate the sense of falling, then you can land right in the middle of a group of enemies, on a pin with water on either side of the ice bridge your soon to be dead enemies were guarding, and proceed to rocket, ram or blast them all to oblivion at practically point blank range.

    Red Dog is a keeper. Take Stunt Race FX on steroids with a twist of Twisted Metal, a little bit of Panzer Dragoon, and space shooter style missions and there really is nothing exactly like it. The first time I locked on to a foot soldier, who promptly put up a measly metal shield to protect himself, only to get blown from the background right up to the front of my buggy, arms flailing, by my missile fire, I knew I had a keeper. An all around do everything extremely well game. It's really sad that this one fell through the cracks last year. It's easily worth the current asking price, if you can find it.