Before Capcom delivered Street Fighter II to the arcade cabinets, the world had Strider – it was a late 80’s 2D side-scrolling platformer that also hit multiple home consoles back in the day. Now almost fifteen years later, Double Helix Games and Capcom release the most graphically detailed Strider yet that not only plays homage to the original, but it’s a full-on original game in its own right. I was expecting a complete re-hash of the arcade coin-up from ’89, but Strider ’14 is a superb re-telling of the futuristic ninja story to be loved all over again! Thank you to Xbox for providing thisisxbox.com with the review code.
Ninja titles were hot property in the late 80’s to 90’s with not only Strider, but games such as Shinobi, Ninja Gaiden, Ninja Cop, Tenchu, and more! Thanks to the Strider ’14 release you’ll soon be reminiscing about the gaming greats of the past whilst donning your best ninja skills in this fresher alternate dystopian future of Earth. The entire planet Earth in Strider ’14 is still suffering under the oppressive, iron-fisted ruler known as Grandmaster Meio and as the main protagonist Hiryu; you’re the only man deemed capable enough to eliminate this evil ruler. Well, you did pass the Strider Training program with a Special A Class rating, so as the youngest ever recruit to receive such a prestigious evaluation you head off to Kazakh City advancing from objective to objective. The question is – can you handle the pressure?
Double Helix have undoubtedly crafted a masterpiece with this digital title, keeping Strider ’14 as fun as you’ll remember with an improved pacing through the campaign adding supplementary environments and ninja fighting grounds to explore to give the impression it’s now more of an open world platformer. It is more 2.5D in appearance too with backdrops that appear to have 3D aspects and incidents happening in the backgrounds during gameplay to add to the overall mission effects. In between chapters are corresponding animated cut-scenes that add to the drama of the plot line, this looks particularly well as you encounter some of the games level bosses who are challenging to say the least, presented as fast-paced action packed sequences of endurance! It’s one man and his wielding sword to the rescue, but the tension is mighty fierce.
Visually, since previously touching on both environments and backdrops, the game is crisp, clear and as sharp as ever on Xbox One. The level design is futuristic, very ‘mech’ and ‘tech’ orientated as you battle through some top-spec technology using just your ninja attributes to fight through one scene to the next. It is a heavy enemy positioned set-up with levels that will at first appear quite a breeze to run through, and others that trap you into their influence as you’ll require quick reflex skills to escape the wrath of many skilled (well presented) ninja masters! The game is a well-balanced output of speed, combat and exploration in equal portions, as fun as it is to explore new paths you reap the consequences of the dangers ahead in many scenario’s.
Gameplay wise it is a simple matter with just a few button presses for the combat and knowing how to direct Hiryu in the direction of your exploration path. You will face a stream of oncoming enemy attacks, projectiles and other electrical hazards in the environment all set to cause you as much damage as possible, but being quick with your response and knowing how to strike at the right moment will cause you a little less than grief and health hazards. You’ll have at your disposal a primary and secondary attack which varies the weapon direction and strength, as well as a HUD and mini-map to offer assistance with locating upgrades and items for your characters gain. There are also a range of costume and weapon upgrades to be found, as well as additional survival challenges and concept art which encourages the use of exploration and Achievement unlocking. The game is expected to last you about six to eight hours of gameplay and offers varying degrees of difficulty to further extend that and allow you to grab the more difficult Achievements available for the most Gamerscore.
Strider is a perfect example of the marriage between platform and action offering a game that feels like you have the freedom to explore anywhere whilst every step you take is heading in the right direction. One of the best downloadable digital only titles available right now that is both fun and testing on the patience levels, but you’ll want to explore all it has to offer and feel that sense of achievement as you try to defeat Grandmaster Meio to bring peace and harmony back on Planet Earth. It is available to download now on both Xbox 360 and Xbox One (as well as other platforms if you search for it) but whilst this review is based on Xbox One, it is assumed that gameplay on Xbox 360 is identical with slight visual difference and perhaps a small increase in loading times.
Being a Strider Ninja is a real sense of purpose, and comes as a recommended title from thisisxbox.com that belongs on your harddrive – grab it now!
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