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Hands On With Star Fox Zero – EB Expo 2015

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Foxes and falcons and frogs oh my!

“Hey Einstein!” “Do a barrel roll,” and many more wonderful earworms are sure to have burrowed into your brain at the very mention of that most spacefaring of vulpes vulpes, the one and only Fox McCloud. Heck, even I knew those quotes and I’ve never played any of the previous Star Fox titles. As such, my hands on had less to do with nostalgic resurgence, and more to do with the intention of satiating a prolonged curiosity.

Blasting off mid-mission, as per the demo norm, Fox and allies are traversing a swerving canyon on their way to rescue a particular canid commander. To that effect, gameplay takes the form of a continuous push forward, with the player controlling direction, speed and the amount of lasers currently being propelled into enemy forces. Of the demo, this was the simplest part to maneuver, with the main obstacle being stationary forces pinned to cliff faces. You don’t even have to defeat them to progress, just survive.

The demo’s second portion switched things up a little by placing you in a specified area in which to fly, centred by a skyscraper. Though the shift was plot relevant, the rotation necessary when moving within the area was a touch difficult to control. With the game utilising the Gamepad as well as the left analog stick for guidance, I never really got a handle on how to properly maneuver. The boss fight mechanics also limited flight space further, putting a higher necessity on turning and, as such, increased my confusion. Though this could just be my own unfamiliarity with the Gamepad motion controls, I personally hope the game proper will contain an option to turn off said controls. It just didn’t feel as simple as the gameplay implied. I did however like the fact that the Gamepad screen perpetually displayed the viewpoint from the Arwing cockpit. It was a nice touch, and a helpful one if you prefer a first person game.

By and large my favourite part of the demo was the ability to transform between the Arwing’s flight and ground modes at will, even when it’s unnecessary…or tactically unsound. That last part might make it sound stupid, but it was simple fun being able to turn into bipedal mode above water, with the game shifting forms back at the last second. One might be inclined to call it cinematic. Ultimately what I’m getting at is that the demo had it’s benefits, but it was not devoid of problems either. The simplicity implied by its existence as a child oriented franchise, or at least one that began as such, belies the  Hopefully, by the time of release, Star Fox will not be a title held back by camera controls. It’d be a real shame if that was the case after all.

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