The graphics were the best of any Star Fox game yet and really show off the Gamecube’s capabilities. Some of the cityscapes seem cartoonish at times, but they still look very good. I particularly liked the detail to graphics when running on the ground, there were smaller reflections and water effects that add to the immersion of the game. There are many of the same types of enemies in each mission, and some of the areas make it particularly hard to see enemies. While it’s by far not the most graphic intensive game, there is virtually no lag, even when there are very many enemies on the screen.
I’ll start off by saying that this game is very short. The first time I sat down to play it, it took roughly 6 hours to completely beat the game in story mode on the lowest difficulty level, and that included watching every one of the cut scenes. In addition to this, the game is far more linear than some of the previous Star Fox games, there are no special missions, or multiple ways to beat the game, just 10 missions. It left me wanting more, and replaying the game just for the hope that I might find it.
The first mission is awesome. It’s a classic Star Fox space level that brought back fond memories of the old games. The controls haven’t changed in the Arwing (the airplane) and are very easy to learn. After blasting away a ton of enemies and feeling happy, my hopes were dashed rapidly in the second mission, where you start off on foot. The designers seemed to have put a lot of effort into the on-foot parts of the missions, putting a ton of weapons in and forcing you to run around quite a bit. The controls were hard to get used to, so I switched them to the dual stick method (which I would recommend if you play Halo) and that made the on-foot missions bearable. I did not care for the on-foot missions. If you’re looking for a shoot-em-up, I would not recommend this game.
After the on-foot part, you get to hop in the tank, which is actually far worse to control than on-foot part. While the tank does have a kick-ass plasma cannon that annihilates everything in its path, it takes forever to turn around and I ended up rolling over just to smash the enemies (yeah you can run over smaller enemies to kill them, that was pretty fun). The tank missions were incredibly tedious and very difficult to finish because some of the maps had terrain that was not suited for the tank, but in many cases you had to roll on through the rough parts anyway, which made for some buggy animation and control.
Luckily though, these parts are over rather quickly and you forget about them as you hop in the Arwing and kick some more ass as you fly around. There is one very cool new feature in this game, and that is when you can hop on the back of another pilot’s airplane and pull out an incredibly powerful cannon to blast a ton of enemies. These parts of the game felt remarkably like an arcade game (in a good way), especially with the colorful world textures that you fly over. However, again, there isn’t enough of this action and I still had that empty feeling afterwards.
The heart of the game is, of course, the classic Arwing missions. With the improved graphics and scripted events, it makes a nicely immersive game. In my opinion, the game should have been only been the Arwing missions. They are a classic recipe for fun and a great diversion (for a while).
The Enemy AI is very smart, and gets tougher as the game progresses. It gets to a point where it’s ridiculous at the end of the game, there are constantly enemies shooting at you from behind. The amount of loops I had to do to avoid these enemies almost made me nauseous by the time I was done.
There are 3 difficulty levels, the easiest, of course, being very easy. One interesting thing I noticed is that on the medium difficulty level, the missions have more objectives and are opened up to more areas. This was cool, because instead of just making the enemies have more hitpoints, it actually makes the game a bit more difficult on a few different aspects. Once you get a certain score on the silver difficulty you can earn badges on each mission to eventually unlock an extra game, Xevious, an old-school scrolling game from 1982. I was very disappointed that it took a decent amount of work to unlock this, when I could play a thousand similar flash versions of it online. The space it took to add this mini-game should have been used to add another mission to the main game.
I won’t say much about the multiplayer, because if you’ve ever played multiplayer in Star Fox 64 then you know that it’s not the game’s strong point. You get to play in the same levels as in the main game, and a few levels that look as though they were scrapped together at the last minute (it looks reminiscent of playing on a giant table with some blocks strewn about). I couldn’t even get people to play it with me for more than a couple matches before they became too bored to continue.
The usual type of sounds you would expect from a StarFox game, but with some over dramatic music that reminded me of a bad Star Wars game. The voice acting is pretty bad, Slippy is still an incredible moron (at one point he has an enemy following him and he shouts “Ack! What do I do?”). This is unfortunate because most of the mission information is found out through hearing your teammates yell at you.
I did have a lot of fun playing this game, but I was so disappointed in how short it was. This would be a great game to rent and be done with, but I doubt you’ll be playing this a couple weeks after you’ve bought it.