Spectrum 2.0

Review of 'Starstrike II'

Rating:5 User: Matt_B

Whilst its predecessor had been pretty much a straight clone of the Star Wars arcade game, Realtime decided to break new ground and come up with some more original ideas for this game.

Firstly, it broke new ground graphically, being one of the first games to use shaded 3D vector graphics, rather than the wire-frame look of its predecessor. I, of the Mask might have beaten it to the punch by a few months but, whereas that pretty much ran on rails Starstrike II has something much more approaching a proper 3D environment.

The game itself has multiple stages. You start in your support module and can pick which of several systems to attack and then individual planets. Agricultural ones are the most lightly defended, with Industrial and Military being progressively more difficult. After a brief flight you can choose whether to attack the orbiting space station; this just takes a few well placed shots and you can dock - Elite style - for a bonus, which makes the next stage easier.

Moving on, you then have to fly through the force field surrounding the planet picking your way through holes in them whilst fending off attacks from emplacements. After that, you have to dogfight with a number of enemy fighters, and get a chance to replenish your dwindling fuel supply. Once that's out of the way, you can commence your attack run on the planet's surface which is reminiscent of the trench sequence in Star Wars. The final phase sees you flying through an tunnel strewn with obstacles towards the reactor. Its then back to your support module to refuel and pick off another planet, and there are plenty of them to keep you busy.

These differing sequences add quite a lot of variety to the gameplay, although it has to be said that some of them are better than others; the dogfights seem a little sluggish in comparison to games like Elite, and Realtime's later Starfox. However, in balance, the tunnel sequence is nothing less than superb playing at an electric pace, with the remaining sections generally quite well balanced too.

Overall, it's a game that's aged fairly gracefully and, even if you won't be wowed by its graphics in the light of what we've seen since, there's still got to be a certain element of wonder as to how they managed to get a Spectrum to it; as best as I can tell, there's a certain amount of corner cutting going on compared to the likes of Driller, but that's only to be expected in a game that runs considerably faster than one frame per second.