Star Fox Zero is a Passable Game Let Down by a Slew of Poor Decisions
The game revisits the success of Lylat Wars on the Nintendo 64. And by revisit I mean copy and update. Zero feels more like a HD remake than a new game entirely.
While there are some nice features in Star Fox Zero, it’s plagued by many issues that are hard to get past. Star Fox Zero is so steeped in nostalgia the entire game is being viewed through rose-coloured glasses.
The control system is a headache from start to finish. Thirdly, much of the visual improvement feels like smoke and mirrors.
More Controls Than You Know What To Do With
This is the point that soured me on Star Fox Zero the most. Star Fox Zero utilises the Wii U Game Pad to provide an alternative viewpoint and the motion controls to target your Arwing’s lasers.
In previous iterations of the franchise, players were able to choose between a third-person view and a cockpit view. This was a matter of preference. Now, however, players are forced to use both.
Players will need the TV screen to use something called “target mode” – which highlights the current objective; and the Game Pad’s screen for cockpit to actually shoot anything. In fact, it plays as if the Game Pad’s display is an excuse for the inane and pointless camera angles frequently employed by target mode.
Add into the fray unavoidable motion controls and you’ve got a sad recipe. Motion controls have a place in this sort of game, for sure, but being unable to disable them is a nightmare.
Star Fox Zero asks people to be in simultaneous control of a ridiculous number of elements: moving the game pad to fire lasers, the left stick to control direction, the right stick to control speed. All the while, the game is throwing more lights at you than a seizure-inducing episode of Pokemon.
Ultimately, Star Fox Zero falls into the same trap as The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. A game designed to showcase the talents of the hardware. In Skyward Sword, the new Wii Remote Plus meant Link’s sword could detect the angle at which the remote was swung.
Keen to show off this new technology, every enemy had some form of directional blocking. Now, Star Fox Zero is showing off what the Game Pad can go and every enemy needs the motion targeting.
The unfortunate part is the game pad’s not new. We know what it does and, given the Wii U’s sales, most of us don’t care.
Star Fox Zero Is a Trip Down Lylat Wars Lane
Star Fox Zero is hugely self-congratulatory. It’s stocked to the gills with references to previous games in the Star Fox franchise. Enemies, locales, even entire levels have been lifted from the history books.
In the beginning, it’s cute. Fox quips early on about checking the G-Diffusers as a nod to Falco in Lylat Wars, “There’s something wrong with the G-Diffuser.” Veterans players will see these and be taken back to their time with the N64. But it doesn’t stop there. Entire pieces of dialogue repeat themselves.
It honestly looks like a repackaged Lylat Wars.
Even the plot is recycled. Granted, the plot of the game hasn’t changed since Star Fox‘s release on the Super Nintendo but it feels too much now.
On the plus side, Andross looks more impressive and menacing than ever. Pity this is the fourth time we’ve been tasked with killing him – and on the fourth console too. By now, it’s unimpressive.
Star Fox Zero Is Missing A Few Things
Speaking of unimpressive, where in the Hell was Star Wolf?
Perhaps the most iconic enemy from the franchise was not done justice in Star Fox Zero. He shows up half-heartedly a couple of times throughout the game and provides token resistance in the name of evil.
So much of the joy of previous games was the interaction of these two ace fighter squadrons and the personal bent due to Pigma’s hand in Fox’s father’s death. Now Wolf sound more like Evil the Cat from Earthworm Jim.
For what it’s worth, the game does look crisper than previous titles. Thanks mostly to the Wii U’s hardware, Star Fox Zero is bright, pretty, and decent to look at while you struggle to aim.
It’s a shame that most of your time is spend looking at the game pad and not the TV. Most of it is deceptive, though. Scenes involving close ups of the Great Fox in particular show just how little the new paint job does.
Once players have a chance to get used to the controls, the game does open up a little bit. For this reason, Star Fox Zero isn’t terrible. Finding the alternate paths and earning the medals can provide players with some satisfaction.