Reboots of classic games seem to do fairly well for XBLA and PSN; retro fans get a trip down memory lane while the uninitiated get to see what all the fuss is about with the benefit of HD graphics and updated sound. Some three decades after its first appearance, the classic Atari title Star Raiders is the latest blast from the past.
Back in the day, space based shooters were all the rage among prepubescent boys keen to replicate their heroes in the Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica movies. The aspirations of these wannabe pilots and warriors have since changed, just like gaming itself. It’s therefore difficult to know just who the revitalised Star Raiders is aimed at! For those among you that do actually remember it the first time round, I’d suggest this isn’t on your list of games you simply have to replay.
You star as Ruiz, a crack fighter pilot intent on taking on the might of the Zylon army. The game’s marketing promises epic space battles and dogfights, as well as a spaceship that morphs into different forms that offer better manoeuvrability and weapons. Sadly, it doesn’t quite match up to its billing.
Granted, this new version looks better than its predecessor – or at least, it looks a little better than it did in the 8-bit days – but it’s still missing a vital element, fun. A brief tutorial outlines the abilities of your spacecraft and all the weaponry on offer, before plunging you into the action. Perhaps action is too strong a word – it’s not the most exciting of shooters with very little actually going on. Space just doesn’t seem that big, or interesting. A few asteroids or enemies appear from time to time but there’s nothing really to retain your interest. Sure, space isn’t known for its scenery but the hugely repetitive environments are unimaginative and dull.
The mission objective pages explain the plot but there’s so much text written in too small a font that I’ll bet few of you will bother reading it through to the end. And you don’t really have to as the story is as one-dimensional as they come. On the face of it, hunting Zylon Fighters and Frigates sounds pretty cool but sadly there’s absolutely no sense that your spaceship is moving – it’s certainly a strange sensation; the occasional asteroid or enemy passes by your ship, which appears stuck with glue to your screen. The most challenging part of the game is getting to grips with the hideous controls. There are a few different weapons available but they make no discernable difference to the gameplay. Enemies can still be picked off from a distance with little resistance. Should they manage to get a few shots on target, it’s hardly panic stations as dying causing you to respawn a couple of seconds later in much the same place. Each level is pretty much a repeat of the previous one and it’s not until the latter stages that a bit of variety is thrown in. Sadly, it’s too little, too late.
Don’t get me wrong, nostalgia is great – but this game should really be consigned to history. They say that in space no one can hear you scream… sat in front of your console playing this, believe me, you’ll want to.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3.
Positives? It doesn't cost too much and looks okay. You get to shoot aliens...
Dull, boring and repetitive. The story is tedious with very little variety between missions. There's very little difference between the weapons and the enemies are just plain stupid. Controls are horrible and the mission overview text is too small.
Star Raiders is now 30 years old and it's certainly showing its age. There's very little action, variety or enjoyment on offer here. With so many more great retro remakes available, this is probably best avoided.