Written By Shaun McCracken

When Star Fox Adventures debuted back in September 2002, quite a few Star Fox fans were disappointed to see that this was far removed from the dogfighting action the series established in previous titles. Rather, Rare decided to basically rip-off the design implemented by the Legend Of Zelda series, which worked out okay for the game. There was an attempt to bring some flying action pieces in the game, but that was actually one of the weaker portions of the title. So when Nintendo finally announced that there would be a second Star Fox game for the Gamecube, which would bring much of the elements back from previous games, you couldn't help to get excited. And the fact that it was also being developed by the same team as Namco's Ace Combat games made it sound all the better. Then the game came out.

Star Fox Assault is by far the weakest title in the Star Fox franchise, buy having the most linear and shortest amount of game play time offered. Not only that, it seems like the developers skimped a bit on the flying action, where nearly 60% of the game is on-ground. While this is a far from terrible game, it fails to meet the expectations of fans of the franchise, and Nintendo itself.

The story is rather cut and dry: something has invaded their "universe" and is trying to take over everything and everyone. Big surprise. Well, one surprising thing is that Andross is actually NOT behind this. I'm not even sure that this game even need a story if all we get is some rather obnoxious voice acting between and during game play. I miss the days when game characters couldn't talk. Along the way, you'll see the "nods" to previous Star Fox games, as you'll play through Corneria and Dinosaur Planet, as well as characters that appeared in previous games (yes, the bastard Tricky makes an appearance here). So really, not a hell of a lot of originality is found here.

The game play has seemed to have been made as easy as possible. Flight controls are pretty basic, and less complicated than the Ace Combat games. The on-foot controls really aren't that bad, not as bad as other critics made it seem, anyway. The two problems lie in weapon selection and how fast Fox walks on ground. The Landmaster tank controls, again accessible, but probably the more troubling of the three setups, as doing certain maneuvers are a bit of a chore to pull off. Level design varies from each stage. One stage will be an on-rails flight stage, while another will be a ground level mission that allows you to commander both vehicles. Not a bad idea, but I still think that it should have kept the flow of Star Fox 64, as well as the level progression. Unlike past games, you can't pick a path in how you complete the game. It's basically a linear set of 10 stages that last about 15-45 minutes each. This is a game that can be beaten in two days, including getting all Silver awards to unlock Xevious. In other words, this is a rental.

Visually, Star Fox Assault is pretty solid. The textures are fairly sharp, the detail of the Arwing and Landmaster tanks are pretty good and there are explosions aplenty. The environments are decent, although there's a noticeable difference between Rare's version of Dinosaur Planet and Namco's. The frame rate holds up pretty well, which is good for a game that throws out a lot of action in many areas. The only problem I have is with the character models. Fox looks less detailed than he did in Star Fox Adventures, which is a bit disappointing here. Other than that, not real big issues with the visuals.

But the audio, things suffer a bit. First of all, the character acting is poor and annoying, especially where Slippy is concerned. The actor who plays Fox just seems to be "phoning-it-in", while everyone else does what they can with the material. The music is okay, but hardly memorable. The effects are good, but lack of any good surround support is just disappointing. Also, the audio is a bit distorted in heavy action sequences, kind of like 1080 Avalanche or GoldenEye Rouge Agent. Look, when you compare the explosion effects here, to say, Mercanaries, Star Fox Assault is really coming up short. This really has less to do with the Gamecube's capabillites, and more with just sheer laziness.

Final Thought

There's not a whole lot to say about a game when you're not given much "game" to play. I'm surprised on how lacking this Star Fox game was. Star Fox Adventures was 25 hours long, while this one barely clocks in with 6. There's less to do here than the original Star Fox or Star Fox 64, and the fact that the only real replay incentive is to unlock Xevious and multiplayer items just makes this game all the more disappointing. With all of that development time, I'm surprised that this was the end result. I would have thought that teaming up with Namco would have had the same great results as the team-up with Sega for F-Zero GX, but I was wrong. Star Fox Assault is just "another" short action game that will probably be forgotten.






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I thought that by having this game developed by the makers of the Ace Combat series, it would be an excellent aerial based shooter. Damn, was I wrong.

Hmm... can't think of much now

Crimson Skies: High Road To Revenge

Ace Combat 4

Ace Combat 5

Star Fox Adventures

2003-2006 SPM

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