Platinum Games is known for making difficult games or at least, titles that have depth for above average difficulty. People who aren’t into these kinds of games will either hit a wall or completely skate through on the surface of what looks like a simple game. I should know, I nearly got stuck in Bayonetta and eventually lost my steam in playing Wonderful 101.
So if you’re someone who this does not appeal to, do not buy Star Fox Zero. If you really want to get it despite that you can just use Invincibility Mode power-up which is great for beginners and small children.
Additionally if you’re of the mind that tilt controls can never be anything more than a gimmick or just don’t like them, it’s probably going to cause you some difficulty getting into it.
Platinum games creates that depth of difficulty in Star Fox Zero with the controls. The thing that the biggest and most popular sites have complained about is actually the game mechanic that can be the MOST rewarding. It’s not flawless of course and I’ll go into detail on what’s wrong with but first it needs explaining how it can be rewarding.
Moving the left stick will move Arwing and on screen reticle but tilting the gamepad will allow for the reticle to be moved with even finer aim to hit smaller targets or those off to the sides of the screen. The right stick is used to do aerial maneuvers, boost and air brake the Arwing.
The biggest problem is that the game has some difficulty easing the player into this functionality that requires the player to jump between the gamepad screen and the TV. The introduction of the Gyrowing, while frustrating to many reviewers, is an obvious step to get the players better acquainted with the tilt control aiming without the pressure of constant forward movement and too many flying enemies chasing the player.
Using the Targeting Mode with the tilt controls really opens up the player’s ability to act like an ace pilot and can result in some intense dog fights. Players who are aggressive in lighting up targets will see the most success.
The only other issue I encountered with the gamepad’s tilt controls was if I swung too far left or right, too many times the reticle would lose center and have to be re-calibrated on the fly. This was most noticeable in land vehicles.
Personally I disliked the need to double tap the right stick either direction to barrel roll. Compared to Star Fox 64 hitting L or R felt a lot more comfortable spinning through heavy fire. In light of that I just resorted to bobbing and weaving.
The controls mostly work and will really be an obstacle to those who don’t want to make the effort but some simple button remapping would have gone a long way.
The level design is satisfactory. There are some memorable stages but it feels like they don’t stick as much since there is constant action and less quiet moments between battle as in the older game. It’s hard to soak up the scene when you’re glancing down at the cockpit view on the touch screen.
The game’s mission structure has the player navigating the Lylat System through a map that opens up different routes as was the case in the older games and depending on the circumstance where Fox ends up the player will end up in different vehicles.
All the vehicles feel good, but the weakest of all the offerings is the Arwing’s Walker mode. It’s not a bad idea and it’s works well but it feels ultimately unnecessary in the grand scheme and a bit of a disappointment with how it plays a role in the final boss.
The bosses however are a high point. The easiest of them will just be a test of endurance where the hardest of them will challenge the player’s skill and abilities. Once the technique clicks for the player or the health bar starts dropping, overcoming the bosses is supremely satisfying. There’s even some cool use of the Walker mode for some of the boss fights.
The graphics are sharp and pleasing and the same can be said for the games music and sound design. The voice acting is appropriately goofy as expected of a Star Fox game.
While a single run through the main game won’t take very long there’s plenty to do in Star Fox Zero. Training Mode, Arcade Mode, unlocking new Lylat System routes and going for gold metals offers plenty for players who like a challenge. The invincibility mode power up activates after 3 Mission Failures and it’s good for less skilled players that still want to explore. The Co-operative Flight and Shooting controls are also a nice addition.
Multiplayer Versus mode is sorely missed though.
Two of the games directors, said it was the team’s goal to make something new and I would say they succeeded if it were not for the throwbacks to the older Star Fox games that unfortunately makes it hard not to compare them. What might have better approach, that would even fit the game’s name, would be if Star Fox Zero had been about a younger Fox McCloud dealing with the loss of his Father, learning to become a pilot in different vehicles and doing solo missions as he builds his team. No doubt making it about the Lylat Wars Saga was a move to help the game’s sales.
If all you want to see is mediocrity, you will undoubtedly find it. Star Fox Zero is like that old fashioned kind of game where your level of satisfaction is directly proportional to the level of effort you invest. If you don’t want to earn your satisfaction, then this isn’t the right kind of game for you. Maybe you’d rather walk through an empty building and get narrated at. I hear those are very trendy these days and don’t require any of that pesky skill.
Anyway, take care.
Until next time.