GAMECUBE REVIEW: STAR FOX ASSAULT

Star Fox Assault attempts to recapture the excitement that Star Fox generated on the SNES over a decade ago. The problem is that it tries too hard and ends up as an updated version of an old classic with little in the way of innovation.

It's easy for me to sit here and rip into this game just because it fails to meet my expectations but when I take a moment to really think about it, I don't really know what I was expecting. Star Fox was a great space shooter with interesting characters. It captured one's imagination, as classic games tend to do. But that was then and there have been a lot of improvements and developments with shooters since that time. Star Fox: Assault doesn't bridge the gap between old and new. It feels like an old-school shooter with a few new features tacked on that just don't seem to fit. It stays too close to its roots Which direction it should have went in I don't really know. I honestly can't say where I would like to see the series go. Maybe they should have just left if alone.

First off, there are some complaints with the game as it stands. It mixes mission with ground-based missions as well as aerial combat. Ground missions can be completed on foot or with the aid of the Land Master Tank. The Arwing lets you take to the skies to shoot down enemies and installations. While this may seem like a nice variety of gameplay features, all of the missions require that you shoot at things. There's no variety in the missions themselves. It becomes very tedious shooting at swarms of enemies. Aside from learning some defensive moves with your arwing, there is a decided lack of depth to the gameplay.

Fox McCloud and his Star Fox Amada are called upon to save Dinosaur Planet and the Lylat System from an alien threat. All the old characters are back including Slippy Toad, Krystal, Peppy Hare and Falco Lombardi. There are three modes including Mission, Survival and Versus. A four-player Deathmatch, multi-player mode is also offered but the four-way split screen just makes things too difficult to see.

As with most shooters, you'll have a steady, almost endless supply of ammunition, with no shortage of weapons to fire it from. Blaster, rifles, rocket launchers, lasers and cannons are all at your disposal. The aiming takes a bit of practice to get down. Even the control of the vehicles takes some getting used to. Things don't seem to flow. You always seem to be struggling with something throughout each level. It's easy to crash into something with your Arwing as you attempt to dodge asteroids and canyons. On land it's very easy to fall off of a bridge or over a cliff.

There are some free-roam areas in the game but for the most part it's linear and on rails. There's no true sense of freedom. You can even count on your mates to screw things up constantly. You'll be called to the rescue in virtually every situation. As if to reinforce your hero status only you can get your mates out of trouble and save the day. Frankly it's annoying. These guys are no help to you at all. It's like taking a group of mentally challenged kids on a tour of Iraq.

While on the ground, a meter will indicate when it's time to take to the skies and help out your friends. They don't do much to help you but at least they get out of the way. On the ground it's another story since the enemy can come at you from all directions. It would be so easy to abandon them but you'll lose your Ally Medal if any of them get killed. It's funny how they reappear at the beginning of the new mission as though nothing had happened.

Survival mode lets you play through the Mission mode with no saves just to see how far you can get. It's a cheap way to generate some replay value since a decent player can get through the main Mission mode in a day or two. The multi-player mode won't be much of a factor in the replay value. After a few hours of Deathmatch I think most gamers will beg to play something with Mario in it.

It seems that most of the production went into the epic-looking opening. It really looks great but it sets the bar too high for the rest of the game to follow. It's a real letdown afterwards. Things just seem stiff and empty. The voiceovers are loaded with all kinds of exaggerated inflections and false enthusiasm. At least the mechanics of the game are tight - even if the controls aren't. There isn't any slowdown or clipping issues. The animation is smooth but some of the graphics aren't even up to SNES standards. For a game that borrows heavily from the original I would at least expect it to surpass it in every category especially when you consider both Namco and Nintendo teamed up on this effort. Curious fans are advised to consider renting Star Fox: Assault.

Preview by Chris

Star Fox on the N64 was a great game with some interesting characters. When "Fox" and his crew reappeared on the GC system, the game was not the space shooter fans fell in love with. I am not knocking the last game. They wanted to try something a little different. While many enjoyed the game, fans really wanted more of the space action. Now after at least 5 name changes, it looks like fans of the original style of the game will get their wish come this February.

The game has been changed to make it have the feel of the N64 game but will feature some new controls and enhanced graphics. While their have been rumors that this will be nothing more than an enhanced version of the N64 game, Nintendo and Namco are going to make this one a whole new adventure.

The game will take place a few years after the last mission on Dinosaur Planet. The Star Fox crew is relaxing when they get word of a new threat. Their orders are pretty simple at first: seek out the threat and destroy it. Sounds pretty simple, right? Well, Fox McCloud soon learns that this simple mission is about to take a terrible turn. It will be up to you to help Fox and the crew to succeed. The game will also feature a 4-player split screen mode. Players can also expect a Co-Op feature and a brand new control system.

Nintendo is working on the controls and Namco is working on the graphics and other parts of the game, a joint effort to try and bring back the magic of the N64 version. From the screen shots it looks like the two companies working together is paying off. Look at the latest screen shots and the game features and a brief storyline. It would be great for owners of the GC if this one were ready for Christmas. However, you will have to wait a few more months for this one.

Story:

Several years after disaster was narrowly averted on Dinosaur Planet, Lylat Central Command detects a new threat spreading throughout the galaxy. The Star Fox team is sent in to eradicate this growing menace, but what begins as a standard combat mission quickly takes a dramatic turn. Legendary team members Fox McCloud, Slippy Toad, Peppy Hare and Falco Lombardi join forces to form the most formidable team in the history of this celebrated series.

Features:

  • Soar through space and attack an armada of strike fighters in your Arwing
  • Roll over hostile terrain in a heavily-armored Landmaster Tank, or bring the hurt to the enemy on foot
  • Play missions solo, join the fight with up to three other players, or engage in four-player split screen battles
  • Play wingman to another player, riding on the wing of the Arwing or side of the Landmaster Tank, and blast enemies while the pilot controls the vehicle
  • Powerful weapons including automatic blasters, sniper rifles, and shoulder-launched rockets
Preview by Vaughn

It's not exactly what you'd expect and it's certainly not a sequel to StarFox Adventures but fans of the original title on the SNES will probably be apt to wanting it. Star Fox 2 is a multiplayer deathmatch style game that allows not only on foot deathmatch action, but once you find the hangar....complete Arwing style fighting.

At this point Fox, Slippy, Falco and the rest of the gang are playable but the control needs some attention. The Arwing controls are tight but the ground controls are a little askew as far as I'm concerned. Strange, especially since Namco is developing this game and they should know better. Hopefully their will be a configuration mode in the final version. As you will see from the screens, the multiplayer aspect is played from splitscreen which is so 1997. The Cube can go online, so take it online already and stop the splitscreen terror.

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System: GameCube
Dev: Namco / Nintendo
Pub: Nintendo
Release: Feb 2005
Players: 1- 4
Review by Daemia
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
3.0
GRAPHICS
3.5
CONTROL
2.5
MUSIC/FX
2.5
VALUE
2.0