Jonathan 'Kit' Shaw

Star Fox Zero review – Taking the offensive

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When I heard that there was going to be a new Star Fox game I could not jump over that Moon quick enough. I was so excited to know that my favourite video game franchise was finally coming back after 11 long years, it would finally graces our Wii U systems and I can say that it has most certainly been worth the long wait.

It was co-developed by Nintendo and Platinum Games, having these two great companies come together was a match made in heaven as they have created a brilliant game and hopefully continue to work together for later installments.

What should be pretty normal by now, Andross is trying to take over the Lylat system and Star Fox is hired to help the Cornerian fleet save the galaxy.

Rather than being a continuation of Command, the story appears to be a retelling of Lylat Wars, as it does mention the events of the previous games. This would seem to be a good move as Star Fox is one of those series that is heavily timeline focused – Metroid being the same. This way, they can take all the ideas and scenarios from the old games and apply them in new and interesting ways.

The controls have changed to accommodate the game pad, and I can say they work well – it can just be a tad fiddly.

To shoot, you press the ZR button. It works well, but it can wear down your finger pretty quickly. There were times I had to switch finger to give the other a rest, and to fire a bomb you can either click the right stick or press the R button.

To boost, you push up on the right stick and brake pulling it down, tilting the stick left or right will turn the ship sideways and double tapping it will perform a barrel roll, but it doesn’t always register the command. It would have been better to keep the action registered to the L/R buttons.

It can be rather annoying, especially, if you keep having the old control scheme in your mind, as you will find yourself pressing the R button to perform a Barrel Roll and accidentally fire off a bomb.

The biggest change is the motion controls and cockpit view. Using the gyro in the game pad, you are able to move the cross hair and shoot anywhere on the screen regardless of where your ship is facing.

This can lead to some amusing moments, as I found that during a cut scene my team-mates were talking about something important while I was firing lasers left, right and center.

Now, while it is fun to use and useful when things get hectic, it can be rather finicky at times. With so much action going on, you forget that you can move the cross-hair and end up shooting exactly where you don’t want to.

Happily though, there is an option to make it so that it will only move when you’re either shooting or locked onto an enemy; making valley mode and dogfights easier.

The cockpit view is on the game pads screen, this is used for more precise aiming, it works well in dogfights as well as targeting certain enemies.

Taking a page from Star Fox 2, the ships have all received upgrades in the form of alternative modes to help you and to switch between them you press the A button.

The Arwing gets a bird-like walker mode, allowing it to traverse land and underground spaces. With this, you are able to travel in underground sections of the map, and land enemies more efficiently. Later you can activate wall panels, it also has the ability to defy gravity because when you transform in space, you fall.

The Landmaster on the other hand gains a limited slow moving flight mode which lasts until the boost gauge depletes, this helps when accessing higher areas which the hover has trouble with and its charge shot now locks onto three enemies and fires missiles.

The GyroWing is the only new and original vehicle added to the game, it is a little helicopter that comes with Direct-i a little robot on a tether (who looks like a mini ROB the robot) and he is used to access panels and enter areas too small for your ship to enter. All of them are really fun to use and it makes you think as to what more they can do with them in the future.

There are a wide variety of enemies to fight with many from Lylat Wars, but at times however they can be very annoying, they all appear to have a sixth sense and will shoot at you before you come on screen, so at times you won’t react fast enough and get hit. They also like to fly into you, which can be rather irritating especially when on low health.

Star Wolf likes to adopt this particular tactic in their encounters. He also likes to appear at times in a number of missions and they make up some of the more entertaining battles, their ships also have a walker mode which makes the duels all the more interesting,

The levels are varied, each one has something different and makes full use of your vehicles abilities. Most of them are rather short, take Sector X for example; no longer do you explore a ruined space base, all you do is destroy three large missiles before they enter a portal and the level is done taking roughly 10 mins. Fichina, the original had you defend a base, here you just fight spider mechs and then a bigger spider mech.

Later on some levels, a teleporter will appear which you can go back to to find, if you do it will take you to a new section of the map.

Amiibos are compatible with the game giving you special goodies to play with.

The Fox one gives you the Retro Arwing from the original Starwing on the SNES and is a faithful recreation, it even comes with the original sound effects for the lasers and boost/brake, and in place of the bird mode is the original walker from Star Fox 2 which is absolutely brilliant.

Using Falco will give you the Black Arwing, what this does is more than just a colour change, it is more powerful than the standard ship and can lock onto two targets at once; however this is comes at a cost as you will take more damage.

All we need now is for Nintendo to release all the other Arwings as DLC, the problem there is that they would have to make walker modes for all of them!

Overall, Star Fox Zero is a brilliant game, it is great to finally have the franchise back after so long there are a few bothersome things about it, but there aren’t many to make it an unenjoyable experience the good out ways the bad so this game can stand proud.

Good: Fun, challenging, excellent soundtrack, game play is easy and enjoyable,, vehicles are fun to use, lots of replay value, it’s Star Fox.

Bad: Sixth sense enemies, short levels, motion controls are a tad fiddly.

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