It seems that in every medium, be it movies, videos, or computer games, people moan about a lack of a compelling story in action titles, which makes about as much sense as complaining about the lack of a nailgun in a football sim. Quit your griping about Starship Troopers, Con-Air, or Spawn; these are called action movies for a reason, people, and as such they deliver all the things that make action great: million-dollar pyrotechnics and ultraviolence. People couldn't care less if the story was written by Steinbeck or Stymy the Hack, as long as they get to see THX-rattling fireballs and bad guys bleeding from every orifice.
Similar sentiments can be echoed about computer games. Action lovers still want to revel in wanton destruction with little regard for morality, all in super-duper VGA (come on, how much ink has been spilled detailing Unreal's killer plotline?). This isn't to say that a computer game should be entirely devoid of motivational plot elements. But for all the talk about "the stories" in Daikatana, Half-Life, and SiN, I'm happy to say that the much-maligned action-heavy, plot-light genre has received a solid kick in the pants from the wonderfully fun Nuclear Strike. You want earth-quaking explosions? It's in there. You want the ability to mow down defenseless enemies with your helicopter-mounted machine guns? It's in there.
Nuclear Strike is the PC port of the extremely successful console Strike series, and a brilliant port it is. You're an elite commando who can pilot just about any piece of military equipment thrown your way, and you're heading up the task of stopping those ubiquitous nuclear-armed terrorists before they can do their bad-guy thing.
The graphics are about as good as it gets. From your isometric point of view you start out in a Super Apache, mowing down tanks, enemy hideouts, and the lone rocket launcher-toting extremist with your customizable arsenal. While it looks decent without hardware acceleration, with a 3Dfx card, it looks downright wonderful - approaching Extreme Assault-quality blowouts. The terrain is highly detailed with rolling landscape and undulating water (though for "the steamy jungles of Indocine" it sure doesn't have a lot of trees). And of course nearly every man-made object blows up real good. All this and superb MTV-style full-motion video cutscenes to boot.
There are five huge campaigns with several missions throughout that include taking out an enemy radar station, escorting important cargo, and rescuing tortured POWs, piloting fifteen different vehicles along the way from an experimental A-10X to a hovercraft to a Russian T-90 tank, all armed to the teeth.
A quick glance at the interface usually is enough to tell you what you're low on, be it armor, weapons, or fuel, and by using your ever-present compass, you can quickly find where the closest supplies are to be had; don't worry, the mission will wait while you quickly dash off to restock. Also, if you find your sidetracking has taken you off course, the compass also can quickly point you in the direction of your current objective, highlighting the things that need to be taken care of or simply taken out.
But Nuclear Strike is not defect-free (we are talking the military here); you can only save a game after you've successfully completed an entire campaign, which can take easily an hour even if you know what you're doing. Another gripe is the ability to view all the missions in a campaign at once, allowing you to take out enemy factions and supply lines before you're supposed to, making the killing all too easy when the time does come to finish off the primary forces. And while the campaigns are large, having only five missions makes this game shorter than it should be. Oh, yeah, and there's no multiplayer.
Still, these minor pet peeves shouldn't be enough to scare off the action-loving fan who's tired of the incessant parade of first-person slayathons or ultrarealistic military sims. If you've found the recent crop of action games pretty dry, you'll find plenty to slobber over in this extremely entertaining title.