Rebel Riders: Operation Nighthawk Review
Rebel Riders: Operation Nighthawk box art
System: Wii, PS2, PC Review Rating Legend
Dev: Kando Games 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: XS Games 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Sep. 16, 2008 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+ 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

Their only counterattack is to shoot you with their missiles, which ludicrously hover behind you for a moment, then speed up into you. Push the Nunchuk's joystick left or right at that point and you evade the missile. It's not a hard time-window to hit; once, we went too early and had time to do it again before the missile struck the plane.

Rebel Riders: Operation Nighthawk screenshot

By contrast, with Nunchuk steering, "gun" targets are very difficult. Sometimes the guns are mounted on bombers or gigantic airships, and sometimes they're on the ground, but in all scenarios the problem is the same: the only way for your plane to shoot something is to fly straight toward it while firing, and when you fly straight toward a gun, it has a pretty clear shot at you too. Because it's so difficult to keep your aiming reticule directly over the target, the guns tend to get more shots in than you do. To make matters worse, your missiles don't lock on, and even worse still, they don't connect even when you aim them manually. You're stuck guiding the plane's weak primary weapon (a machine gun, usually) with a wobbly Nunchuk.

This brings up two additional points: One involves how we confirmed for certain that missiles won't destroy gun targets; we flew right up to a gun and shot a missile at it. The missile went through the target into the sky, but we took almost no damage for running headlong into the gun, and then the ground. You're free to smash into anything you want, with few consequences.

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Two, there are no save points besides the end of the missions, which usually last 15 minutes or so. It's rather annoying to lose that much work because you got unlucky with one too many gun enemies, especially when it happens more than once. This isn't the kind of game where you can play the same things over and over without getting sick of them.

Passing missions unlocks more levels and new planes. The levels mostly look the same and largely offer the same challenges. The planes have a variety of weapons, including, absurdly, a "shotgun." It's a pump-action shotgun, judging by the pause and "chick-chick" sound effect between each shot. We're not quite sure whether someone is leaning out of the plane, drive-by style, or if engineers mounted a hunting gun and a pumping mechanism on the plane's exterior.

Even suspending disbelief, it remains stupid; it takes too long between shots (whereas you can fire eight missiles at once) and doesn't lock on very efficiently. So, the default (missile) plane is better than the first unlockable (shotgun) one. To the game's credit, most of the subsequent planes are rather fun to fly.

In many ways, Rebel Raiders is a few tweaks away from a great discount game. Players could live with the low-rent production if that meant enjoying great controls and balanced shooting levels. A little less sensitivity in the steering, a little more challenge from the rival planes, and an easier way to target enemy guns would have provided this. Maybe some multiplayer, whether online or split-screen, could have helped, too. As it is, they'd be better waiting for Tom Clancy's HAWX and coughing up full price.

By Robert VerBruggen
CCC Freelance Writer

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
2.5
Graphics
The planes look cool, but the landscapes are boring. No progressive-scan support.
2.1
Control
The Nunchuk could make a very good control stick, but in this game, the plane is too sensitive to small shifts of the hand.
2.8
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Not bad, not good.
2.2

Play Value
Too easy in some ways, too hard in others, no multiplayer, altogether forgettable.

2.3
Overall Rating - Poor
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • 15 fighter planes equipped with powerful weapons.
  • 16 unique missions.
  • Futuristic environments.


  • Screenshots / Images
    Rebel Riders: Operation Nighthawk screenshot - click to enlarge Rebel Riders: Operation Nighthawk screenshot - click to enlarge Rebel Riders: Operation Nighthawk screenshot - click to enlarge Rebel Riders: Operation Nighthawk screenshot - click to enlarge Rebel Riders: Operation Nighthawk screenshot - click to enlarge Rebel Riders: Operation Nighthawk screenshot - click to enlarge Rebel Riders: Operation Nighthawk screenshot - click to enlarge Rebel Riders: Operation Nighthawk screenshot - click to enlarge Rebel Riders: Operation Nighthawk screenshot - click to enlarge Rebel Riders: Operation Nighthawk screenshot - click to enlarge Rebel Riders: Operation Nighthawk screenshot - click to enlarge Rebel Riders: Operation Nighthawk screenshot - click to enlarge

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