Review by PUhler

"A major disappointment"

Strikers 1945 2 is a tragic game for me. After having been lucky enough to revel in the glory that is it's sequel, Strikers 1945 3 (arcade only), and the oh so glorious Gunbird 2 (Gunbird 2 being Strikers with some relatively minor gameplay differences, and a shiny coat of paint), I was expecting a hell of a lot more than this. While not a bad game, Strikers 1945 2 has enough noticeable flaws to keep it from attaining a status on the same level as it's superlative sequels.

''Here I go again on my own ...''

Strikers is a vertical-scrolling shooter created by shooter wizards Psikyo; hell, this is their flagship series. Just in case you don't know what to expect from a Psikyo vertical-scrolling, I'll give you a brief description: You pilot a craft of some sort (be it a plane of some sort in the Strikers games, or a person of some sort in the Gunbird series) on a vertically-oriented monitor (which means for the home port that they have to crop and compress it, though there's usually an option to turn your TV on it's side to simulate a monitor taller than wider), and you maneuver your way through bullet-soaked levels, filled with multiple foes, ranging from ground turrets to flying miscreants of some sort; you cap off each level with an encounter with a massive, multi-morphing boss of some sort, be it ground or land-based. You pick up a few power-ups to beef up your weapons and add bombs to your inventory, and there're also point-based icons to pick up, that if you nab at the right moment, gives you a solid (usually 2000) amount of points (master it, and you can get some huge scores). Of course there's the 'Psikyo Shuffle', which means the first few level are randomly selected.

It's no different in Strikers 1945 2; select one of six World War 2 craft (modified to fit into the over the top nature of Strikers, of course), and take out an army -- planes, tanks, submarines, and whatever else with a military theme Psikyo could toss in there -- in classic 'one man against the world' style. You have your regular old shot (which can be powered up via the aforementioned power up icons (conveniently they look exactly the same in every shooter Psikyo pumps out)), your charge attack (hold down the shoot button, and you'll use a charge attack), which operates on a bar in the lower-left corner of the screen that has three levels, and powers up according to the amount of destruction you wreak (Jeez, I'm beginning to think Psikyo will never change aything about it's games). The you have the Strikers, which are the game's bomb attack. If things get to intense, call in the cavalry -- the support can alter from a massive plane that plows through a fourth of the screen (hmmm ... yet they don't bother constructing your planes out of the same material ... silly engineers), to a wall of more diminutive planes, that unleash red-hot death on anything unlucky enough to get in their way.

You'll need those Strikers too, as Strikers 1945 2 is not an easy game (though it's a damn short one). It's not especially difficult, but it should definitely pose a challenge to all but the hardiest of gamers (not yours truly, sadly enough). Of course, just like Gunbird 2, the game dosn't truly become difficult till towards the end -- the fifth level in Gunbird 2, and the sixth for Strikers 1945 2 -- which is a shame, because I was hoping for a stiff challenge through-out (not a problem for Gunbird 2, as it becomes anger-inducingly difficult towards the end, but in Strikers, it just becomes plain old hard).

Now, so far, the gameplay probably sounds great, right? If Strikers could continue at this pace, it'd be a hell of a game ... but it has some huge issues. For one, the control isn't that tight. Gunbird 2 had some of the tightest, most concise controls in any video game ever for me, and Strikers feels a bit sloppy (not to mention the piss-poor D-Pad on the Playstation). Another problem is the hit detection. You see, the hit-detection is the radius in which you can be struck by a bullet. Some shooters have high hit-detection (Viper PSN-1 comes to mind), and some have low (Gunbird 2 had nice and low hit-detection); Strikers has neither. If anything, you can call it inconsistent. At some points, I thought it was fairly low ... and then I'd get killed by a bullet that didn't even touch me. This seems to happen often near the back-end of your plane, like Psikyo made it especially huge in that region. I'd rather have a set level -- be it high or low -- than have to make dodging bullet patterns a guessing game. Very irritating flaw. Still, the killer has to be the fact that Strikers 1945 2 was DESIGNED to play on a vertically-aligned monitor ... yet Agetec saw fit not to include the option to turn your TV on it's side -- therefore speeding up bullets, but giving you plenty more room to move around -- in the domestic edition of Strikers 1945 2. Horrible. So now I'm stuck with the cropped and compressed Original mode (makes dodging bullets idiotically inept at points, thanks to the lack of room to move), or Original 2, where you control the scroll of the screen yourself ... making the game flat out unplayable. I'm sorry, but when a fast-moving bullet pattern is headed my way, it's a bit distracting for the screen to be shifting back and forth as I attempt (notice how I said attempt) to dodge it all. Gah. Still, it's a relatively fun game, but be warned: Gameplay is the only thing it has going for it, because lord knows the graphics and sound ain't gonna keep you enticed.

''I don't think these backgrounds should be disguising those bullets ...''

If gameplay is rather shaky in Strikers, the graphics are shakier than an average earthquake-ridden day in California ... with about as much smog. Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating a LITTLE, but damn, this game doesn't look good. The whole game looks dreary -- normally a plus for something like a WW2 game -- but with low resolution, and no more than above-average usage of color, it's a bad kind of dreary. Explosions look absolutely deplorable, and the animation isn't anything special at all, save a few of the bosses, who are maybe Strikers strongest point graphically (some, like the huge Submarine boss, look amazing); the whole game is a wash graphically. The most annoying part is when the backgrounds will hide the bullets on occasion. What the hell? You don't know how pissed I can get when I'm killed by lack-luster visuals. Annoying, annoying, annoying.

''I can't quite taste them, but I know I can feel them ... ''

Alright, here's one element about Strikers 1945 2 that I can say is rock-solid: the sound effects. Loud, crisp, and simply ubiquitously invigorating; the sound effects -- from the sound of a Striker eliminating the poor shmoes on the screen, to the vicious explosions that litter the screen at any given time -- plain and simply rock ASS (Master Figurehead would be proud of my quickly learned skills in implementing ''rocks ass'' to aptly describe something). Of course, the sound effects are so loud, and there's so many of them, it's only natural the music would get drowned out, which it does. Not to worry though, because the tunes that Psikyo placed in Strikers are nothing special. Hell, for the most part it's just wanky guitar rock, and I don't think many of you out there will be missing it, especially in light of the sumptuous sound-effects.

''Shooter fans ONLY''

While I think the above statement fits most shooters on their accessibility, Strikers 1945 2 is the PERFECT example of this mantra. All you have in Strikers is the gameplay; the ending is horrible, and there're no extras. Add that in with the mediocre visuals, boring theme, and the fact that the gameplay is more than a little suspect, and you'll come to the conclusion that unless you're a die-hard shooter fan (even then, do your best to try before you buy), Strikers 1945 2 is barely even worth a rental ...

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Pat is personally recommending Mode 7 stay as far away from this game as he can.


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 04/10/01, Updated 04/11/01


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