Star Fox: Assault
U.S. Release Date: February 14, 2005
The GameCube Archives Score: 7.5/10
Star Fox's 2002 GameCube debut, Star Fox Adventures, received considerable flak for being called "Star Fox," and not containing a plethora of space battles. Indeed, the game is not a third-person spacecraft shooter, but a streamlined, on-foot 3-D adventure game, with several brief, tacked on space-shooter segments. On the grounds that a Star Fox game is supposed to contain...not a whole lot of ground, Star Fox Adventures is a great failure. On the grounds of Star Fox Adventures simply being a video game, it is pretty good. No matter to the masses, though...Star Fox Adventures was predominately dismissed as not a real Star Fox game (fair enough, unless one considers the game's protagonist is Star Fox), and a Zelda knock-off (fair enough, if one considers the only criteria for "Zelda knock-off" as a 3rd person game not called Zelda, where you do stuff). Fans of the series and Nintendo in general asked for a more traditional Star Fox game, and nearly three years later, by way of Namco, their wish was granted...with conditions.
|Yes, Slippy, the review is beginning, I didn't ask for commentary.|
Star Fox: Assault, Star Fox Adventures' GameCube successor, is a return to combat-based gameplay. However, that gameplay does not take place entirely from the confines of a spacefighter cockpit. Roughly half of the game features space-based dogfights, sometimes on a fixed path, sometimes with full freedom of movement. These portions feel great, like Star Fox 64 on steroids, with better graphics, and a fully orchestrated soundtrack. The controls for these segments are intuitive, based on the schemes from previous Star Fox games. Barrel rolls and loops are just as easy and satisfying to perform, as well. Even the laser upgrades and bombs are the same. A game based entirely on this play style may have simply been a retread, but it would have been a highly enjoyable one.
However, retread is not something in which the creators of Star Fox: Assault were interested.
|Yes, Fox, there are unwanted elements in the game discussed ahead. Again, you chatty anthropomorphic space pilots, I did not ask for commentary.|
The other half of the game is split between on-foot shooting action and tank-based combat. Star Fox 64 featured some fun tank missions (and an awesome submarine one!), with controls diverting little from the space-fighter missions. Star Fox: Assault's tank-based missions don't connect as well. The controls are surprisingly clunky, with hovering and turning being a surprising pain. The control scheme isn't intuitive, and I found myself forgetting it sometimes in the middle of gameplay. The controls for the on-foot missions are a bit better, but those stages are largely unremarkable, and not all that fun. Star Fox running around on the ground in combat boots is far less incredible than Star Fox firing lasers from his Arwing space-fighter while doing barrel rolls.
|That's not a knock on Fox's boots, though, which are both fashionable and functional.|
A few missions give the player the choice between all three play styles. Flying is always preferable, even in the some of the less expansive, tight-quartered non-fixed path stages. Flying is always preferable, period.
It's almost like the developers heard players' complaints, decided to give them what they wanted, but got bored doing so. With the clumsy controls, the on-foot and tank-based portions feel as tacked on as the Arwing segments did in Star Fox Adventures, but those were about 3% of that game--the on-foot and tank-based parts are half of this one! Then, there's the fact that Star Fox: Assault only has ten levels, the least of any Star Fox game I can remember. This makes the game feel even more rushed. The development team would have been better off focusing all of their efforts on a space-fighter game, or taking more time to get the balance right between the three play styles they eventually decided to go with. Then again, the Wii came out 21 months later...maybe they just wanted to get this out on the shelves.
So with that said, is it worth seeking out this game?
|Get it, it's an asteroid field with a bunch of stuff hidden in it...like is it worth seeking out this game, amid a field of other games? Shutup Fox and Slippy! ...You're obvious!|
Yes, for multiple reasons.
Those space-fighter missions are a lot of fun, and many are multi-tiered, at least stretching out the gameplay time by a little bit.
This particular Star Fox outing is more story-based and cinematic than previous iterations, and even manages to work some emotion into the ending.
The graphics, while not on the level of say, Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader, are bright, colorful, and detailed.
The soundtrack, an orchestral take on previous themes, with some new pieces thrown in, is excellent, if a little over-compressed. It reminds me of Christmas.
Sound effects are crisp (nice explosions!), and the voice acting is plentiful and solid...though I miss the British guy struggling to give Fox an American accent from Star Fox Adventures.
The team aspect of the game is well done, with Fox often tasked with rescuing his less-skilled CPU teammates...usually, the reliably incompetent Slippy Toad.
|This game is very progressive, allowing the female, Krystal, to suck just as badly at flying as the male, Slippy.|
Several characters are carried over from Star Fox Adventures, and the previous game's world gets a visit, a nice gift to fans of that game. Also, players can re-attempt levels for higher scores on higher difficulties to earn some pretty cool bonuses. And finally, the game runs smoothly, the framerate rarely experiencing a hiccup, even when there are a ton of enemies, laser shots, and explosions on screen.
Lastly..."lastly" because I already said "finally," there's a split-screen death-match multiplayer mode--however, it's not going to set the world on fire. Just like Star Fox 64's completely superfluous multiplayer option, you're lucky to even run into your opponents, let alone get a chance to blow them out of the sky...or off the ground. Increasing the amount of players to four helps the cause, but not by much.
|Hey, man, so uh, I guess I'll run into you at some point. I think you're below me. Just stay there, okay. This could be our only chance to shoot at one another.|
Star Fox games are released once in a blue moon--the next console Star Fox game following Star Fox: Assault was released 11 years afterward! This one isn't perfect, but fans of the series can't afford to pass it up. If you're not a fan...there are better games, but if you dig action, Star Fox: Assault is at least worth a try.