Heavy Fire: Red Shadow is the latest addition to the Heavy Fire arcade shooter series. Unlike the previous titles, this isn’t an on-rails shooter, it’s a stationary one in which you operate a heavy machine gun and a rocket launcher. The game is currently out in North American regions on the PS4, Xbox One and PC, with support for PC VR and PSVR as well!
However, the PSVR support is an additional 10 dollar DLC (if purchasing digitally), as such, this review is purely based on playing the game WITHOUT VR via the PS4.
So, how well does it play? Let’s load up and check it out.
As previously stated, the gameplay has you at the trigger of a heavy machine gun, equipped with a rocket launcher on the side. You remain stationary within one spot whilst providing defence against waves of enemy soldiers trying to take you down. Taking too much damage causes you to die, clearly, but the game allows you to carry on playing from the point of death with all the perks you’ve previously unlocked.
Your gun can spin 360° and has 200 rounds which it can fire before needing a reload, plus there doesn’t appear to be any limit on the number of bullets you have. So don’t feel shy firing the gun, just be aware of the reloading time. For bigger targets, or when trying to cover an area, don’t forget about your rockets! Although, your rockets ARE limited and also require a longer time to reload. To further assist you in your cause, you have the ability to call in support such as supply drops of health and additional rockets, infantry troops, or an aerial support. Calling in any kind of support costs points which you gain by killing enemies. Accumulating these points, thankfully, is very fast and easy.
As you take down the waves of enemies, you’ll also gain experience points which turn into skill points. These points can be used to purchase perks such as additional health, impact bullets, or a longer spawn time for infantry. By saving up your points, you can make Heavy Fire: Red Shadow incredibly insane with the no reload skill for the heavy machine gun. Just hold the fire button and shoot infinite rounds.
There are a total of 4 stages to work your way through. Each one has day and nighttime sections that follow on from one other, each with different stage designs. First up was a beach, then shipyard, airport, and finally a city pier. All the levels are about 20 minutes long, give or take, with no difficulty adjustments. Thankfully, with the skills purchased and the call in support, none proved too difficult.
What was a bit of a bother with Heavy Fire: Red Shadow is that while the stages appear different, each map has the exact same enemy spawns. The objects and enemies you see in the first map are present in every other map, there’s no variety of enemy types as you progress. I had hoped there would have been a helicopter or maybe a tank, but instead, the vehicles that do come at you are easily disposed of with a rocket or a few rounds from the machine gun. Enemy spawns also felt sparse in that I would kill the 4-5 that spawn and end up waiting for the next handful to appear. Sometimes the screen would say an enemy is in one direction but when you look, they wouldn’t appear, as if they were hung up on a building then randomly die a few moments later.
After the campaign, there’s not much else to do as it’s limited to just two modes, the story and an endless mode. Endless mode is just replaying the same maps until you die, clocking up a score based on the number of kills you get – as you would see in physical arcade shooters. Skills unlocked during the campaign can also be used in the endless mode, this makes it really easy to stay alive as you stack up tonnes of points. After playing for 40 minutes, I knew I wouldn’t ever die unless I willingly let myself. This was half bad-ass but also half silly as I was too overpowered by this point.
As I mentioned earlier, Heavy Fire: Red Shadow is playable in both VR and non-VR on the PS4, but you do need to purchase the 10 dollar DLC in order to enable the VR mode for the digital version. As I don’t own a PSVR headset myself, I didn’t invest into the DLC and just played it in ‘flat’ mode. Stationary shooters are fun in VR as the immersion pulls you in and keeps you hooked on the action which is going on around you, playing it on a flat TV lowers the immersion and it loses some of its magic by playing it this way.
I would have liked it if the VR mode was included as part of the package, like the vast majority of games with both a VR and Non-VR mode on the PlayStation 4. However, maybe adding the VR mode would have bumped up the price for those who don’t wish to use the VR mode? It’s a possibility but considering the physical edition, which includes VR, is the same price as the digital version without VR, It seems unlikely unless the deal the publisher has with Walmart is that they can sell it at a lower price point?
Heavy Fire: Red Shadow is a very simple arcade shooter which anyone can pick up and play. The whole campaign can be completed in one sitting, as you work your way through four various locations to unlock new abilities which make you god-like. The endless mode will provide a bit of extra enjoyment as you compete for the top spot on the leaderboards, whilst utilising all of your previously acquired abilities. Unfortunately, After putting in about 4-5 hours into the game, I don’t see myself coming back to the game that often. I felt I’ve seen everything there is to see and reached the peak of what it has to offer.
On a side note, the game doesn’t appear to have a platinum trophy, so there isn’t that to work towards either.
**Update – If you purchase the game physically on PS4 from Walmart, as it’s a Walmart Exclusive, you’ll get both the base game AND the PSVR add-on in one package for $19.99**
Heavy Fire: Red Shadow$19.99 + $9.99 (VR)
- Easy to pick up and play
- No penalties for respawning
- Skill progression to make the game easier
- Repetitive enemy swarms
- Lack of game modes
- VR mode is a separate purchase if buying digitally (could be seen as positive or negative as it may have bumped up the price if it was included)