Review By: Jesse Mason
When people design shooters, most fall under the "unoriginal,
repetitive, redundant, and boring" category. Most of these are either old
school 2D shooters, X-Wing and Tie Fighter clones, or wannabe Star Foxes.
It's nice to see that someone (Psygnosis) is able to find innovation AND
manage to make an awesome playing experience.
The game is a cross between Star Fox 64 and XWvsTF with mission-based gameplay.
The missions vary in diversity. Sometimes you are taking out a swarm enemy
ships, taking out an enemy station, disabling your own station, protecting
ships, etc... These missions don't play out in a linear fashion, and there
are several routes to the various endings.
A small disappointment is the lack of great diversity (it'd be nice to do
something besides taking out things) and the missing planet battles. Of course,
planet battles would have to be written totally differently than the space
battles, so it's alright I suppose.
Battles take place in various space backgrounds. Usually,
it's you and a few league ships (the good guys) versus an equal amount of
bad guys at first. As you move along, you become outnumbered greatly. As
the enemies increase, your fellow soldiers also increase. If you "accidentally"
blow up one of your own ships, you are given a warning. Blow up two, and
you're considered a traitor, and it's game over for you. This is especially
annoying when a bunch of good guys surround the enemy you are tracking.
The control is a little loose, but it works greatly. I find it funny how
you come to a complete stop when you let go of the gas (in space it may be
like this, but I imagine that you slow down a little beforehand). You are
given several weapons that are more than just more powerful. Each weapon
does something different, varying from the EMP, which disables an enemy,
to the laser, which straight out kills it.
Psygnosis seems to have concentrated on the aesthetics
side of the game just as much as the gameplay. There are great hi-res graphics
with hardly any pixelation, though the space backgrounds provide a dull playing
field. Lighting effects make up for it with awesome shading when your ship
moves in front of a star or a planet or you fire a laser at something. Dolby
Surround Sound, which I unfortunately never got to use, is supported.
Voiceovers were the best in years. They were crystal clear, excellently acted
out, and the world's best James Earl Jones impersonator narrated between
the levels awesomely. The story has a unique and awesome premise. In the
future, overcrowding forced the people of Earth to colonize every planet
that can support life. Eventually, the Earth became an evil tyrant, causing
all these colonies to suffer. This led to the Colonies forming The League
of Free Worlds and rebelling against the cruel Earth government. The odds
are greatly stacked against the League, and if they lose, their freedom and
harsh treatment will probably never change. It's a grim setup, which makes
you want to actually fight these bad guys (few games can say this).
To wrap this review up, I'll just say that anyone who
feels the need to play an excellent shooter should check this out. If you
own both a Playstation and an N64, I'd suggest you pick this one up before
Star Fox 64.