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Star Fox: Assault Package Art
†GENRE
††Shooter
†DEVELOPER
††Namco
†PUBLISHER
††Nintendo
†NUMBER OF PLAYERS
††1-4
†CONNECTIVITY
††no
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Star Fox: Assault

Birthed in an era when three dimensional console games were a rarity, Star Fox was a space shooter with considerable creativity for its limited hardware. It is sad to think that with Star Fox: Assault the series has taken a few steps backwards, but it has. It isnít a bad game, but it sinks to somewhere around average.

visuals

The graphics are serviceable with occasional flashes of greatness and some other moments of despair. The space battles generally convey an appropriate sense of scope, especially the first level: battleships and enemy squadrons are numerous, making the battle seem epic; afterwards, there is a distinct drop in large scale conflicts. On foot, the textures are often bland. The planets Corneria and Sauria are visually pleasing with the amount of detail, such as Sauriaís bountiful plant life and temples, but the others are forgettable at best. Pop-up is a serious problem in some missions. You can be almost on top of your intended target before it becomes visible on screen, which is frustrating.

audio

Though Star Fox continues to be the only Nintendo franchise with extensive voice acting, most of it is cringingly bad. Slippy fares the worst, but every character has several awful lines. Of course, voice acting means that you donít have to read text in the middle of a firefight, so it must be grudgingly accepted. Sound effects are average, but the explosions are far too low-key for the scale of these battles. The soundtrack is the highlight, featuring some nicely remixed classic themes.

gameplay

Kudos to Namco for trying to do something new, but they failed. The big addition this time around, on-foot missions, are wearisome at best. Fox isnít responsive in his aiming, especially on airborne targets, and weapons like the grenade are nearly impossible to use effectively. If this form of the game were only one or two missions out of twelve or fifteen, that would be fine, but most levels require you to exit the Arwing fighter at least once.

Arwing battles are the redeeming factor in this game. The charge shot is no longer vital to big scores, so group combos are easier to get. Unfortunately there is only a handful of this stage type, which is a shame because it looks like most of the effort went here. The display makes it difficult to tell when youíve been damaged and how much life you have left, though the hit detection is forgiving.

Boss fights are a hallmark of this series, but little effort went into designing the ones in Star Fox Armada. Before, each boss usually had multiple phases, but thatís not the case here. Also gone is the puzzle quality needed to beat some bosses. Here, weak points are glaringly obvious.

Your wingmen are even more incompetent this time around. Before, your wingmen served a purpose. Slippy analyzed the enemy shield, Peppy gave advice, and Falco would swoop by and blow up a few ships. Now, they get in distress and reward you with a power up. I was expecting better support from my squad, and I got worse.

Lastly, the branching pathways that existed since the first iteration are gone. The story goes in one direction, and you visit the same planets and missions on each trip through the game, limiting replay value severely. In addition, the campaign on its easiest setting can be cleared in three hours with minimal effort. You can go through and unlock medals for bonus games and characters for multiplayer, but it isnít worth it.

multiplayer

Battling against four friends can be enjoyable. Most maps offer a choice of which mode you want to play in, and the Arwing does not necessarily dominate the playing field. I armed myself with a rocket launcher and took out several opponents from behind a building before being run over by a tank. The Arwing-only maps are best, though.

overall

As fertile a ground as the flight combat genre is for quality gameplay, this falls short of the target. Even more depressing is that this was a franchise that in the previous generation was considered an A-List series, but now is a strictly average game. Star Fox: Assault can be a passable rental, but buying is not recommended.

dojo doubletake
Once again, The Fur is flying! Anyone disappointed in the straying direction of Star Fox Adventures will be pleased; a Zelda clone this is not. This installment is GameCube's true heir to the series we last left in Star Fox 64.

Voice acting brings the cast of Star Fox: Assault to life. From squeaky, adolescent Slippy to roguish, brusque Falco, voices for characters fit perfectly. Even new characters become instant classics via voice talents, from the comical squawk of Andross's nephew, Andrew Oikonny to suave, purring Panther of Star Wolf, to Krystal, our emotive, empathetic telepath.

Controls are tight; no complaints here. There is a considerate choice of three control schemes including a nice (non-default) dual-stick setup.

Multiplayer for Star Fox: Assault has been beefed considerably from Star Fox 64's meager two stage, no character selection dogfight. A co-op mode would have been a nice alternative to the competition that is Star Fox: Assault multiplayer. I hope to see it in future titles as some of the missions get extremely close to co-op, but with NPCs. It seems only logical to extend the "team" Star Fox concept (or Star Wolf, or Cornerian army forces for that matter) to multiplayer co-op.

Overall, Star Fox: Assault looks, sounds and plays like a Star Fox for the 21st century while remaining true to series roots. 7.5/10

-- Paul Starke



final score 5.5/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Matt McDaniel
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"Quis custodiet ipsos custodes"


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