Several years have passed since the classic Star Fox 64, aka Lylat Wars. And when Star Fox Adventures came out, many believed it to be a bad joke and saw the series crash and burn. Despite successful elements, the call for a "real" Starfox game came up. This is what Star Fox Assault was supposed to be ...
Initially, it starts in a familiar way: In space near Fortuna, Fox and his team are joining Corneria's fleet in a battle against Andross' rebuilt fleet under the command of his annoying nephew Andrew. The first level is designed as a classic rail shooter and contains all the well-known elements from 64: You fire at everything that gets in the way, collect upgrades and – what else is new - save Slippy. Defeated, Oikonny flees to Fortuna with the rest of his fleet, where he finally faces the team for a last stand. After the flying Andross-wannabe is beaten, it is suddenly destroyed and an unknown enemy enters the scene - the Aparoids. A worthy start for a Star Fox series so far.
In the following level, however, the opinions tend to differ. Fox sets foot on the base of Katina to investigate and is attacked by the Aparoids. In addition to the proven Blaster, the brave stellar vulpine has more effective weapons at his disposal, like the fast-firing machine gun or the powerful rocket launcher. Moreover, there is also the battle-proven Landmaster tank. In addition to a rechargeable cannon with target lock, it also has boost and hover functions, which allow the vehicle to accelerate or lift up for a short time. All in all, the tank is a bit clunky. However, he is necessary against the boss in the local level, which is not vulnerable otherwise. Apart from that, the tank generally serves Fox to avoid some fire under his foxtail, which can easily happen due to Fox's movement control. Especially the sluggish turning of the vulpine hero gives the foes enough time to tan his hide and scorch his bushy brush with laser fire. This can be annoying as hell, especially when enemies appear out of nowhere.
A new feature is the so-called presence gauge. In the third mission, Fox enters a base full of scoundrels who want to "skin him and his whole crew". Outside the base, space fighters and battleships continuously appear and you have to decimate them in time using the Arwing before the base is overrun and Fox's tail ends as a trophy. In addition to the already mentioned rail shooter missions, there are also space fights where you can move freely with the Arwing. Sometimes Fox can also use the Arwing or Landmaster and continue on foot. During a few missions, Fox shoots enemies with a plasma cannon while standing on a wing of an Arwing or a Wolfen. Despite some surprise moments during the on-foot missions, these are rather mediocre compared to the other mission types. The goals usually only consist of destroying certain targets.
In terms of content, the single-player mode is more likely to score. You see familiar faces like the Starwolf team, while fighting the Aparoids most of the time, which pose a great threat, so you get unexpected help every now and then. Graphically, the game looks solid - the levels themselves are quite appealingly designed (based on the back-then standard). The characters, however, are a bit more plain For example, the detailed fur effect like in Adventures cannot be found here. On the other hand, the overall effect is certainly boosted by the acoustics. The orchestral pieces are well tuned and fitting to the individual scenes, giving the game a good overall atmosphere. Star Fox Assault also has a multiplayer mode, in which - similar to Lylat Wars - Fox and Co. can tan each other's hide in an Arwing, Landmaster or on foot. Peppy and Wolf can be unlocked as playable characters, as well as additional maps and game modes like Survivor Mode, Booster Packs Brawl or Crown Capture.
All in all, Star Fox Assault is, despite all the criticism, a good game, but not more. A well-made story, varied missions and the solid acoustic background contrast with a clumsy controls, a non-intelligent AI and moderate graphics. Perhaps a little more development and inspiration might have unfolded more potential and turned the game into the series' flagship. Fans of the Starfox series, who have not disdained Adventures, will probably not be disappointed with Assault. Hardcore fans of the series, who still see Star Fox 64 as the flagship game, might probably avoid this one. Instead, they should rather go for Starfox Command, Starfox 64 3D or Star Fox Zero.