Atari’s 8-bit Space-Shooter Transformed.Every now and then a developer makes the monumental decision to reboot one of their franchises. Sometimes it kicks new life into the game, like what Arkham Asylum did for Batman, so you can see why they would be willing to take a risk.Star Raiders is the latest Atari classic to be reborn but can it stand out in today’s market?
This third-person space-shooter puts you inside the cockpit of a transforming vessel with three modes; Attack, which has great speed but little shielding and is designed for “epic” dogfights, Assault, which has the best manoeuvrability and medium speed, and Turret which supposedly has the best weapons and shielding but drives like a turtle stuck in jelly. Throughout my entire time with the game I barely even touched the Turret option, because even from the early levels it is useless. Assault is faster and has better range, and thus kills faster, making Turret redundant.
The campaign sets up a brilliant cast of space-cadet characters in the opening cut-scene, before throwing them into a black hole and revealing a rather generic “space cadet vs faceless aliens” storyline which acts as nothing more than an excuse to throw 30 repetitive missions at you with a mere handful of objectives and enemies to encounter. The upgrade system is uninspired and fundamentally flawed in that with a few minutes cleaning up after each mission you can just about fully upgrade your craft by mission 4c. Although later missions unlock extra shells for your ship, the gameplay remains pretty much the same throughout, with missions usually lasting between 2 and 20 minutes each, dependant on skill level. However, to progress in Star Raiders you need no skill whatsoever, as you cannot Game Over. That’s right, you die, but re-spawn almost immediately. Granted, in certain missions with timed objectives the 3/4 second re-spawn time can hinder slightly, but otherwise there is no reason not to die. In many cases, it’s simpler to die and have your shield and energy refilled immediately than to go to a recharge station!
The sound fits with the feel of the game, as do the graphics despite the repetitive nature of both. The only gripe I have with the graphics is the confusing nature of some inside areas. This merged with the natural darkness of space can be annoying during fast-paced fights. Granted, the background scenery is very generic and sometimes boring but there isn’t much they could have expanded as space is pretty much empty. The design just seems uninspired.
The AI is decent for the most-part, although sometimes enemies seem just blatantly stupid. What seems ridiculous for the most part is how enemy frigates will let you fly all around them, slowly destroying them, whilst not trying to escape. Their allies won’t even consciously try to protect them.
Despite the slating I’ve given this game, it’s actually quite fun in small doses. This genre isn’t really about storyline; it’s about shooting things whilst zooming around space. Granted, the controls could be better but generally they have been well-judged.
All in all, Star Raiders is worth the £6.99 if you like the genre or just fancy a game which you can play for short amounts of time. Personally though, I would quite happily leave this one behind and let the aliens win.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.