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Starfox Adventures


Starfox Adventures is a very good adventure game in it's own right, but not really a Starfox game in the traditional sense. In some senses, it's a fitting testament to Rare's 20 plus years of developing for Nintendo systems, and in other ways it's a big worry. Fans of adventure games certainly should pay good attention to Starfox Adventures regardless, because it's solid and fun.

Starfox Adventures has some really great, memorable moments and some really poorly executed moments where either you're collecting items aimlessly, dealing with needlessly frustrating puzzles that are only that way due to general directionless. Also, most of the shooter stages feel tacked on, which is disappointing. Also, most of the poor content is at the beginning of the game, which will turn off a lot of more casual gamers, who unfortunately won't get to see where the game really shines.

Without stating any story related spoilers, the game has it's opening sequence, which starts straight off with a shooter stage on the back of a pterodactyl with Krystal. It's a sort of boss fight I suppose, but there's some things that just make it fall on it's face: The Pterodactyl has no aiming reticle and no way to line up your shots effectively and it's impossible to lose the fight. So, you wind up having to guess where your shot will land, adjust to meet that location, and then do it all over again every time it shifts position. Very poor. Then, after you're done with that, you have to do an entire stage without any ability to attack except by throwing explosive barrels, and it's not a very short one either. These two stages are about the first hour of gameplay. Then after that... you do a couple of stages with fox where you just collect stuff and feed animals.

Rare is a better game designer than this, and should know how important a first impression in a 10-20 hour form of entertainment is.

After you get past all the crap at the beginning of the game you rolled your eyes at, a few things become clear: The combat is way too easy, but the level layouts are interesting, and there's tons of gameplay variety that once they sink in, become quite enjoyable. You'll find yourself doing everything from on rails shooter stages on the back of dinos and oldschool Starfox stages to racing to zelda esque adventure stuff... and most of it is well done. I really have to commend Rare for packing this much variety into a package and making it mostly work. Very impressive. Some of the shooting stuff much later in the game is especially well done, including the sequence where you shoot on the back of a brontosaur, then the back of a pterosaur, and then fight a boss on a platform, all on rails 1st person shooter style.

Also, the puzzles get pretty good too, having you scouring for important switches and items instead of meaningless drivel. After you get past the "Fox boy scout" part of the game, it gets great. No more feeding dinos for no reason.

The Arwing shooter stages are for the most part poorly done unfortunately. They last very little time, all look exactly the same, and all offer very poor challenges, and with the exeption of the very last one which is GREAT, frankly suck. Rare obviously threw these in and didn't do a good job of it.

Another big, understandable gripe in this game is the presentation. Unfortunately Rare pretty much threw in a couple of shooter stages, replaced the original main character with fox, redid a couple of cutscenes, and called the game Starfox Adventures instead of Dinosaur Planet, and frankly it can really ruin the immersion of the game. Fox using a magic staff? Where's the blaster, cloaking device, proximity mines, personal forcefield and other cool tech gadgets? This is the far flung future, right? Don't give me that "it's a diplomatic mission so you can't bring 'em, fox" BS. It's pretty obvious that this is a war. Frankly, the presentation is hackneyed and poor when it could have been more interesting and adult and thusly attracted a wider audience. With the fact that Rare pretty much has (obviously) rebuilt this game from scratch anyway, it's pretty inexcusable. Starfox should be in something more Metal Gear-ish frankly, and I don't think you'll find a single person who will disagree with that.

Yes, it's true, the graphics in Starfox Adventures are absolutely gorgeous. Some of the more obvious things that bear mention are the almost total lack of aliasing, crisp texturing, and fur rendering that you supposedly need a programmable vertex shader to achieve according to Nvidia's PR hype. One thing the screenshots really DON'T tell the story of is the very, very impressive per pixel lighting effects this game sports in several areas. The boss fight with the T-rex shows this off especially well, with individual lights playing off it's sides in realtime and overbright lights from the electrified platform... only place I've seen anything similar to that is in the new Doom game (although that lighting model is even more complex). All in all, couldn't be a shred better given the hardware and the stage in they system's life I don't think.

Decent voice acting, sharp ambient sound effects, and nice use of the sound field. A lot of the monsters only have one or two sounds, and that can get boring. Solid sound track that includes everything from orchestrated pieces to butt rock. Very well done.

If you have the patience to get past the first 2 or 3 hours of gameplay, then Starfox Adventures opens up into a very fun Zelda clone with lots and lots of gameplay variety. The problem is, the whole game is about 15-20 hours the first time through, so the first quarter of the game is utter crap. Also, the presentation frankly flatly doesn't work most of the time, and you'll often be asking yourself "Is this how Fox would really do things?" and it hurts your ability to enjoy what
would otherwise be a very decent game.

(Shackreviews repost)

Star Fox Adventures is a really mixed bag. On the one hand, the game is really boring for the first few hours and the presentation is horrible. On the other hand, it does a great job of being a Zelda clone once you get past that part and also has some great, well conceived gameplay and truly memorable moments on it's own merits.

Buy if:
You're a Rare fanboy. The meaningless collecting and trite "Fox scout" things won't bother you in the slightest, just get ready to buy an Xbox. Also buy this if you're a patient person to whom presentation isn't that important, and you love Zelda type games.

Rent if:
You want a GC graphical showpiece, but don't have any patience for poorly conceived objectives. Also rent if you're concerned that the presentation might ruin the game. This game is also short enough that you could probably beat it in a rental if you really tried.

Don't buy if:
You hate Adventure games, presentation is very important to you, you hate collecting, or you're expecting the shooter stages to be great.


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