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Game Profile
FINAL SCORES
9.0
Visuals
9.0
Audio
9.0
Gameplay
9.5
Features
9.5
Replay
6.0
INFO BOX
PLATFORM:
GameCube
PUBLISHER:
Nintendo
DEVELOPER:
Rare
GENRE: Adventure
PLAYERS:   1
RELEASE DATE:
September 23, 2002
ESRB RATING:
Teen
IN THE SERIES
Star Fox 64

Star Fox Command

Star Fox: Assault

 Written by Kyle Williams  on October 21, 2002

Full Review: Maybe Turok should take some hunting lessons from Fox.


Well, here it is. The last game from Rare on a Nintendo system. You'd better enjoy it while it lasts, because it's been a long time coming. Starfox Adventures originally started out as Dinosaur Planet on the Nintendo 64. Of course, as time went on, the project changed forms multiple times, adopted Fox McCloud as its hero, and grew into one of the best adventure games to hit the Gamecube.

As the game starts up, you take the role of Krystal, the only survivor of the planet Cerinia. Krystal answers a distress call in the Lylat system and stumbles across the fractured Dinosaur Planet. It isn't long before she becomes imprisoned in the Krazoa Palace, the resting place of powerful spirits that bring life to Dinosaur Planet. Unfortunately, the spirits aren't in the palace as they were hidden when the evil General Scales forced the tyrannical Sharpclaw on the other tribes of the planet. This is where our hero, Fox McCloud, and his Star Fox team comes in. The team has been a little short on work since they last defeated Andross eight years ago and jumps on the opportunity to make a few bucks by restoring order to Dinosaur Planet. And so their adventure to return freedom to the galaxy begins.

From the moment you first power Starfox Adventures up, you know that a lot of time and effort went into the game. Presentation here is top notch and there are elements within that help explain why this game spent so long in the development pipeline. The very first thing that you will notice is how beautifully everything looks. Character models, landscapes, and visual effects are the cream of the crop and really show off just how much you can pack onto a tiny little Gamecube disc. There is no graphical sign anywhere of the games N64 roots. The real graphic gems are in the details that Rare crammed in. I've never before seen fur rendered so well in a video game and that is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The overall graphical feel of the game is a decidedly Disney-esque twist on Jurassic Park, with surprisingly well modeled, though a tad bit stylized, dinosaur models.

Rare really complimented the graphics with a solid set of sound effects and audio tracks. In fact, Starfox Adventures is one of the first Nintendo titles ever to be supported by a fully voice acted story. It does suffer from some of the typical flaws found with international animated features but in general, the voice acting is pretty good and gives the overall presentation a depth that has been lacking on past Nintendo consoles. The rest of the game is full of shouts and grunts from non-player characters, clashes of weapons, and a well-balanced soundtrack. It says a lot for a game of this magnitude when the score never starts to feel repetitive. At times, the score even helps to drive the action forward with a simple change of tempo.

Speaking of Action, getting through it is made simple with a surprisingly familiar control sequence. In essence, Starfox Adventures is a spiritual successor to the N64 family of The Legend of Zelda titles and plays nearly identically. There are a few slight adjustments that have been made to accommodate the GameCube controller but I wouldn't be surprised if The Legend of Zelda: the Baton of Wind adopts some of these same changes. Of course, a Starfox game wouldn't be complete without you piloting the Arwing through a few choice missions. Starfox Adventures doesn't disappoint in this aspect either, as Fox must fly his way between several of the different area8s. The levels play almost identically to the classic Starfox games but do suffer from being just a touch too short. We'll just have to wait for the coming Namco Starfox title to fully quench this desire.

While some of the more basic tasks do wind getting a little bit repetitive, Rare manages to keep Starfox Adventures fresh with a wide variety of nontraditional action sequences. SFA doesn't limit you to just exploring the planet on foot and fighting SharpClaw thugs with your magical staff. Between exploring and solving puzzles, you find yourself riding beasts, racing hoverbikes, and engaging in a number of skill tests. If there were a few more of these alternate sequences and a little bit less of the mundane tasks, this game would be absolutely perfect.

If there was one thing that I would complain about in regards to Starfox Adventures, it would be that the game isn't challenging enough. Combat never had the intensity that it should have, due in part to the fact that only one enemy in a group would attack you at a time. Throw in easily executable combos (that look great) and you should never have any problem dispatching the SharpClaw. If I was to get really nitpicky, I could point out a couple of odd shadowing issues or the occasional animation not quite matching up, but there really is no use. The game is fantastic in every regards, and has been well worth the wait.

Bottom Line
Star Fox Adventures is another great title that shows Nintendo should never be counted out of any war. The game borrows a heck of a lot of gameplay elements from The Legend of Zelda games on the Nintendo 64, yet stands on its own two feet without trouble. You will be hard pressed to find better visual effects anywhere and the variety of action elements help to keep this game fresh, especially after the tenth hour of play. You might be able to find more challenging games around, but you won't find any that are this well polished.


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