Strike now whilst the iron is hot! A philosophy was perhaps never more apt than used to describe EA’s impressively hasty production of the eagerly awaited sequel to Soviet Strike.
If you were of the cynical school of Judas’ that believed the Strike saga was beginning to waver on the spanking new platform, then up yours, because Nuclear Strike is the tops! Mind you, this coming from a typical Strike-head who has played the series religiously since its emergence on the Mega Drive all those years ago.
Nuclear Strike abolishes the claustrophobic feel of playing the whole game cooped-up inside a single chopper and instead allows you to venture out and experiment with a whole host of new vehicles. This gives the game greater scope, as you take each mission on board and decide how best to tackle it and with what vehicle.
Like Soviet Strike, there are five different campaigns on offer here which get progressively more difficult. Each one averages about eight missions and there are two ways to go about them. You can either play it by the book and carefully follow the correct procedures, or go storming in with guns, missiles and hellfire’s blazing and nuke every enemy threat before they realise where the hailstorm of lead is coming from.
Despite this devil-may-care tactic, you are still only restricted to flying each mission in turn, because Strike-net only submits new information once the mission in hand has been completed. The general feel of the game as a whole is very similar to Soviet Strike and you start to think whether or not you can really be bothered to go through the same type of thing again. However, this thought vanishes as soon as you get into the later missions because the action and tension really starts to hot up.
Take, for example, the third campaign. Set in a North Korean city you begin the missions with a pathetic news chopper which is equipped with nothing more than machine guns, tear gas and smoke canisters – hardly state-of-the-art weaponry! With this you must rescue diplomats and fend off enemy onslaught until a new chopper becomes available.
Also, campaign four is a real humdinger to get to grips with. The action is set over one big battlefield with allied forces at the south and enemy activity in the north. All you are required to do here is hold off the enemy and stop them descending to the south until the allied bombers arrive (25 minutes to be exact). This may sound like a pushover, but believe me it isn’t. Before you know it, the whole map is crawling with high-powered enemy tanks and you’re left flying around like a blue-arsed fly trying desperately to stop them. This campaign is the most tactical of the bunch because you must command your comrades and position them in certain positions for optimum effect against the enemy. You can also land your chopper and take control of tanks and rocket-launching Skar-style vehicles in a bid to thwart the mass spillage of enemy activity.
The whole format of the game has undergone several changes since Soviet Strike, most notably you now have an onscreen radar that distinguishes between the targets, enemy vehicles in general, allies and the pick-ups. Plus you can also switch on a new targeting device to make shredding those convoys a lot less lacklustre.
Also, whereas Soviet Strike was a bit rough around the edges and at times jerky, these problems have now been rectified with a super smooth frame rate and lots of new special effects such as light sourcing and intricate shading. As always, the detail is very fine, and the beauty about games such as this is the way you can destroy absolutely anything you’d care to turn your sights on. Unfortunately unlike with Soviet Strike, the in-house programmers seem to have lost their sense of humour as there is no Elvis or Santa to be seen… but then it’s early days yet!
Many of the familiar traits of the last Strike game are evident in this sequel. The same impressive use of FMV footage, the same characters (Andrea’s got a new hair do, Nick croaks it early on, Delta’s still the same wise-cracking techno-freak he always was), and the same wealth of information concerning all aspects of the missions and locations that are available to the player at the touch of a button.
If you liked Soviet Strike then you’re going to love this, as it is basically more of the same sort of stuff with added trickery and re-jigging, although perhaps it isn’t quite as challenging as it could have been. We found that some campaigns tended to peak in the middle and trail off towards the end rather than build a steady level of difficulty that reaches fever pitch at the climax. Still Nuclear Strike is a very challenging and well thought out game that will keep you riveted for weeks.