Soviet Strike

Soviet Strike
Game Name: Soviet Strike
Media: 1 CD-ROM
Publisher(s): Electronic Arts
Developer(s): Electronic Arts
Genre(s): Action / Shooter
Release Date: 1997
Serial Number: T-5013H-50
Region: PAL

Soviet Strike Menu ScreenshotIn a fictionalised post-soviet Eastern Europe, a super criminal by the name of Shadowman seeks to exploit the fall of the USSR for his own ends, acquiring advanced weaponry to arm his growing army of ex-KGB agents and mafia heavies.  The only thing apparently standing between Shadowman and his domination of Eastern Europe is a lone chopper pilot in a covert operations group called STRIKE.

As you may have already gathered. you need to have a certain penchant for corniness to enjoy the plot behind this title, fortunately I’m well equipped in that department so let’s push on…

Many gamers will at some point have touched base with the ‘Strike’ series already, indeed it boasts five titles which cover a boggling fourteen platforms NOT including re-releases! and the very 16bit looking opening screen to Soviet Strike gives a nice not to it’s roots.
So what’s so new and different about Soviet Strike? Well this 32bit era instalment marks a considerable evolution of the graphics system and consequently some improvements to the main gameplay mechanic. Indeed you’ll find none of the usual flat isometrics any more, as Soviet Strikes throws off it’s sprites and brings you full on real-time texture mapped 3D, as well as an adjustable 360 degree camera adding a whole new level of depth to the much loved ‘Strike’ gameplay.

Soviet Strike FMV CutsceneSoviet strike is also of course the first game in the series to add cinematic cut-scenes, which  are both good quality boast pretty high production values which does an excellent job of drawing you more deeply into the plot of the game.

The fluidity of the gameplay is pretty excellent, despite its 3D programming shortcomings the Saturn handles the detailed 3D environments well, and although you’ll find a little slowdown here and there (much more in this case than the Japanese version) it doesn’t really effect your enjoyment of the game, and considering how well modelled and textured the objects and environments are it’s a forgiveable trade-off.

The control scheme used here is very much like its predecessors, however the handling of your vehicle and camera angles may still take some getting used to, indeed some camera rotations will have you loosing your bearings now and again.
Soviet Strike Sega Saturn ScreenshotSoviet Strike also gives your copter a great feeling of momentum, and a more accurate handling characteristic that I dare say will split fans of the previous games, which have a slightly more basic and classic arcade like feel to them.

The array of missions is well varied, interesting and challenging without becoming overly frustrating at any point. The varied stages also do a nice job showcasing the game’s range of texturing and 3D models which as stated previously are surprisingly good.
The AI in Soviet Strike is top notch for it’s time and NPCs react in an extremely realistic and intelligent manner to your presence. This of course also adds another level of difficulty to the game over it’s predecessors, but if I’m honest the previous instalments were far from the most challenging games, so the addition of a well thought out difficulty curve is very welcome as far as I’m concerned, Soviet Strike WILL challenge you – even on the easy difficulty setting.

Sound wise the effects are good and clear, nothing too special but never any less than what you would expect. The in-level music however is slightly disappointing for a Saturn title and very much of the previous generations style and not that special for that era, which is fine but it gets tedious pretty quickly. You have to wonder if all those cut-scenes robbed EA of the disc space for nice CD soundtrack.

Soviet Strike Gameplay ScreenshotAn issue some will have is that it doesn’t appeal directly to most fans of the main genre it gets lumped into, it’s a clunking and for the most part slow paced affair, when you’re not blasting through enemy bases on strafing runs it has many strategy elements to be considered, much like it’s predecessor.
Those seeking a more conventional all out action shooter will no doubt find the strategic element, constant hunts for supplies, careful fuel management and FMV cut-scenes more frustrating than of value.

Electronic Arts were guilty of spunking out some appalling shovelware releases on the Saturn, and I’m very glad to report this is not one of them. It became obvious during playthrough that the Saturn version was properly optimized as much as possible for the system, with the appropriate amount of time and effort devoted to it before release, no doubt accounting for the six months or so the game was released after the PlayStation version.

A worthy and good value addition to anyone’s Saturn collection, and one of the few titles from this developer genuinely worth owning.

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