Star Fox: Assault

Matt Triponey - Staff Reviewer

Content at a glance:

GAME TECH INFO

Computer Platform: Game Cube (Nintendo)
Produced by: Nintendo
Price Range: $41-50
Learning curve time: 1-2 hrs.
Age level: All Ages
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)

Reviewed By: Matt Triponey
STAFF REVIEWER

Overall Rating: ★★★★½
Genre: Other Third-Person Shooter/On-rails Shooter
Christian Rating: 4 of 5 (good)
Gameplay: 4 of 5 (good)
Violence: 3 of 5 (mild)
Adult Content: 4 of 5 (barely present)


Star Fox: Assault.  Illustration copyrighted.


It’s been one year since the events of Star Fox Adventures. Apparently, things don’t stay peaceful for very long in the Lylat System. Andrew Oikonny (yeah, that one wimpy guy on the Star Wolf team you almost always defeated first), the nephew of late Emperor Andross, has declared himself the new ruler of the remainder of his uncle’s forces and launched an attack on the Lylat System. Team Star Fox, led by protagonist Fox McCloud, is called out to defeat him. They do so, but at the last moment, a bug-like alien called an aparoid appears. It seems there is actually a whole army of these aparoids, and they’re bent on assimilating the entire galaxy into their ways. Thus begins another adventure for Star Fox and the team.

GAMEPLAY
Star Fox Adventures radically changed the Star Fox series in that it more resembled a Legend of Zelda game than a Star Fox game. Almost completely gone were the flight missions of old, replaced with on-foot exploration and combat. Many fans welcomed this new direction, while many fans (like myself) opted to not even buy the game. Star Fox: Assault does its best to please both groups while taking the series a bit closer to what it was originally.
I’ll start with the good- there are a healthy amount of flight missions in this game. Some of them are incredibly fun (Orbital Gate is my favorite), and they range from the on-rails missions the series is famous for to massive, all-out space battles between two armies. The fun is lessened somewhat by the frequency of mission objectives, which are often hectic and need to be performed quickly. This doesn’t sully the experience too much, though, and you’ll get plenty of enjoyment out of the flight missions.

Starfox Assualt-5

The bad, if you’re like me, is that the on-foot missions still pretty much dominate the game. Fortunately, it’s far more like Star Fox than Legend of Zelda. Instead of close-range combat, you’re given an arsenal of weaponry, ranging from blasters to machine guns to grenades. While flying is always going to be my favorite part of the game, the on-foot missions are actually fairly enjoyable now. I have only one complaint about the on-foot gameplay- the controls are kind of clunky. Tapping the L button will execute a combat roll, just like a barrel roll in an Arwing or a Landmaster. However, when you’re on foot, the L button feels clumsy and unresponsive, and it kills you more often than it saves you. The other control issue is that, as this is a third-person shooter, there is no use of the C-stick. Manual targeting is performed by pressing the R-button, which will basically stop Fox in his tracks, and moving the targeting reticule with the control stick. It might not sound so bad, but try shooting a rapid-fire turret attached to the roof in a tight area with Fox flinching every time he gets hit and essentially resetting the targeting. It’s frustrating, believe me. Fortunately, these are the only two problems with the ground missions, and they won’t trouble you too often.
Also gone is the puzzle-solving element of Star Fox Adventures. It’s been replaced by a strategic sort of gameplay. You may roll your eyes, groan, and wish Nintendo would leave Star Fox alone, but hear me out. The strategy is a welcome addition. The strategy takes form in the fact that most missions will allow you to switch between on-foot, tank, and plane modes at will (as long as you can track down the vehicle you wish to board). Completing the mission objectives involves strategically switching between these combat modes. Don’t worry- it’s not Fire Emblem-grade strategy, or even Battalion Wars-grade. Your average third-grader could play this game and not realize he’s being forced to think. It’s simply a welcome addition that adds to the depth of the game.
What really boosts this game up in terms of gameplay points, however, is the multiplayer. I would contend that it’s the third-best multiplayer game I currently own, after the two Super Smash Bros. games. You can choose from a variety of maps, most of which are taken unchanged from the single-player mode. There are also revised versions of stages from old games, and even a few original stages. Like in single-player, you can choose between pilot (on-foot), Landmaster, or Arwing, and you can usually switch at will. There are also a variety of side games you can do, such as Crown Capture (basically like Capture the Flag) or single-weapon matches (matches where you set the weapons for snipers, homing launchers, etc. only). The multiplayer here is really great.
Though this may not belong under gameplay, there is one other complaint.

Starfox Assualt-2

SPOILERS

The defeat of the aparoids comes at a price. Several friends, including General Pepper, ROB, and long-time team member Peppy Hare die in the final battle. Wolf and his team are presumed dead as well. However, in a post-credits scene, everyone is revealed to be miraculously okay. This would be fine…if the deaths had been ambiguous. But it’s weird to see an unscathed Great Fox come out of the exploding aparoid home-world with Peppy and ROB safely aboard, despite the fact that moments earlier, we watched the vessel explode before our eyes. It’s a little bizarre, and it kind of ruins the emotions that built up, especially after watching Peppy’s brave and sacrificial “death.” Unfortunately, Wolf’s was the only ambiguous death. The survival of the other aforementioned characters makes no logical sense. I wish it had been better handled.

END SPOILERS

GRAPHICS
This, in my opinion, is one of the prettier games you’ll find on GameCube. When you’re in the sky is when it’s most gorgeous. The ships, both ally and enemy, are extremely detailed, and the explosions and laser blasts look like something straight out of Star Wars (okay, not THAT good). Still, it all looks great, and it runs at a consistent frame-rate to top it off. The only time the graphics suffer is when you’re on foot. It still looks good, but it looks a bit “blockier”, and the character models themselves aren’t as detailed as they could be. There are plenty of absolutely beautiful cutscenes, though.

Starfox Assualt-4

OFFENSIVE CONTENT
In terms of offensive content, Star Fox: Assault is a cleaner game than its predecessors. Krystal now wears a modest outfit as opposed to her revealing Adventures getup. References to beings like the Krazoa spirts are also far gone. The only spiritual element occurs very late in the game…

SPOILERS

…as you face the Aparoid Queen. Fox and the team come to the conclusion that the Queen has been stealing souls from her victims. The scene itself is rather confusing, but that much does get across. It is implied that the souls are restored when the whole thing is over.

END SPOILERS

Additionally, there is violence, but you probably expected that. It’s effects are somewhat lessened by the fact that there are no humans in this galaxy, and the worst-case scenario is that you’ll be shooting talking animals. For the duration of the game, you’ll simply be killing the aparoids, which are something between giant bugs and robots. All of this is bloodless.

CONCLUSION
Star Fox: Assault is one of those games that, even with the onset of the Wii, is still incredibly fun to go back and play. If you don’t have it, I would recommend that you get it, even though it’s been out for a while. If only for the multiplayer, buy it. It’s fun, and it’s content concerns are pretty low. I really do believe your GameCube collection is incomplete without this.

Starfox Assualt-3

Discuss this review in the Guide 2 Games Message Boards

Year of Release — 2005

[tags] 4.5 stars, Other, Game Cube (Nintendo), T (Teen), Nintendo [/tags]




Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Christian Answers Network.

About this game