Star Fox Assault
Star Fox Adventures was the last game Rare made for the Nintendo Gamecube and it was well received. Star Fox Assault now have to be made without the help of this studio so Nintendo asked Namco to make this game a top title. Did they succeed ?
Only a year after another danger on Sauria was stopped and the armies of Andross went down, another problem arises. The Lylat system is under threat of destruction by the attacks of the Aparoids, creatures that take everyone and everything up in their brain. You as Team Star Fox have to come to the rescue!
Is this standard story the basis of good gameplay? Depends on how you look at it: yes and no. The first mission will probably give you a bad feeling on this title, seeing that this is immediately one of the most fun ones. With an Arwing spaceship you can only go a bit to the left and right but really get that arcade feeling as you have to shoot down as many opponents as possible. These types of tasks wlil put a smile on many gamers’ faces.
Next to flying, this Arwing has some other neat tricks up its sleeve. When accepted, you can make a half or full loop by making some moves with the C-stick, very handy when being pursued. Next to that, the futuristic plane als can roll left/right to dodge enemy bullets. The only downpoint is that it flies incredibly slow… even the boost button doesn’t give you the feeling you’re going fast.
Now that I’ve given some info on the Arwing mission, the fun of the game has come to an end. The land missions give you control over your hyperactive fox but the fact that it runs faster than the Arwing doesn’t make it very handy. Good tip: take the dual stick controls, those are still somewhat useable.
You’ll have to guide or doped-up fox (really, he runs insanely fast) through levels that are so big that at times it can be really annoying to find your targets. During his quest to fight evil, 8 weapons are present for use: from the Blaster (your standard gun) to the Homing Launcher and the Gatling Gun. Luckily the Landmaster Tank is also present for you to use.
Maybe I should drop that “luckily” as that’s the last feeling you’ll get when controlling this big, ugly, purple monster. The controls totally suck, you’ll often get stuck in a corner while enemies are jumping all over you. Just shooting them down won’t be so easy as hitting opponents from close range is nearly impossible. There’s one advantage to the tank: with a push on the Z-button you can jump out of it!
The animations of our fox and his friends are fluid but the environment looks awfully bald. It’s understandable that space doesn’t look different from a big black&blue sheet with white spots (stars), but the surroundings for the ground missions could use a little more variation. Graphically not a pearl but not bad either and the same can be said about the sound.
The multiplayer mode did manage to keep me interested. With extra unlockable levels in the singleplayer mode, this game can keep you interested for some time. Up to 4 players can take on each other in splitscreen in Landmasters, Arwings or just on foot. The combination of the latter two is my favorite strategy; immediately look for a Homing Launcher and the spaceship, then in the sky jump on its nose. Then it’s just a matter of shooting homing missiles on your target and you’re done.
Star Fox Assault is part of a category that’s getting a bit too many of its kind these days: the “Games with a lot of potential that doesn’t get used”. Where the airplane missions and multiplayer mode are fun, the land missions with the Landmaster in particular are quite bad. Also the graphics and sound aren’t anything special. Mediocre all the way and we’re seeing way too many of those these days