Oh man. Where to start? I reckon I should start at the beginning. Star Raiders, as any Atari gamer would know, is the iconic first-person space action adventure game published by Atari in 1979 on their Atari 8-bit home computers and later porting it over to the 5200 and 2600 game consoles. It is the game that defined that genre which others would follow. Star Raiders II (the published one and the one that did not get released) took the basics and attempted to improve on them. Solaris for the 2600 soon followed along with a ST port (of which I have yet to play)...all of which maintained the core essence of the game.
Enter the 2011 port of Star Raiders for XBOX 360, PlayStation 3, and Windows PC. After having this game pinned to my 360's dashboard for many years I finally broke down and bought it. And, I have to admit, I might have made a mistake. Once the game installed I thought i was going to experience a familiar game.
For what it is worth the game does look good with modern visuals that are to be expected of modern consoles. But that is where the good points end. The sound effects department is very lacking and the game did not keep the first person perspective. This game stickes with a third person perspective with your ship front and center.
The Galactic Map is still here but its purpose is not the same as it has been in previous installments. In all of the other SR games before there was, in essence, a timer that moved things around on the map. The sole purpose of that game was to defend your starbases from Zylon enemies before they were destroyed. All previous SR games kept this formula and while this modern SR has Zylon enemies they seem weak. Very weak. The bigger Zylon ships are nice models but trying to destroy them is very time consuming and almost frustrating. The smaller Zylon ships don't even care to come at you. You spend more time chasing them down than them chasing you down. The action is simply missing.
Your ship can morph into three different styles and can be upgraded but I saw no point in the upgrades. The styles can be changed on-the-fly during missions but the controls to each style makes it hard to learn those controls. I maxed out my upgrades already but I didn't notice any difference from the first weapon to the last one. It wasn't like I could kill enemies quicker or home in on targets better. They seem like a waste of time and feel even more like they have no real purpose. And each mission I have played so far feels the same as the one before it. Your weapons also have a limited amount of energy. Should they run out you then have to run to a recharge base.
Star Raiders on the 5200 is my number one all-time favorite game. It has a formula and play style that is solid and simply works. If this modern game had been called anything else it would have been an OK game but it carries the Star Raiders badge. Unfortunately those who made the game must not have ever played the original. Yes, Zylons are still after destroying mankind and there are references to Solaris which is the name given to your home base but it does not have the formula that made the original so important and memoriable. Everything you knew or thought you knew about Star Raiders was completely ignored and left out of this SR. In all honesty I woukd not even place this game in the same catagory as all other SR games. Even the 2600's Star Raiders is far better than this.
I've tried to be biased as much as possible with this game as I could. But when you are given the name of a game that is held dear to those that remember that name you better make damn sure you live up to that name. This game doesn't in my opinion. I'm going to try to keep playing it because I want to try to get my $5 out of it. To those who haven't bought this game yet and are considering it...run. Run as far away from this game as possible. If you do get it don't go into the game thinking you are playing Star Raiders. Somebody bootlegged Star Raiders and fluked it up. I cannot recommend this game when it tries to be a Star Raiders game and fails miserably.
This game has got me so frustrated I think I'll drag out my 5200 and ST and play those Star Raiders instead.
Edited by Atari 5200 Guy