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Developer E.A Options
Distributer Electronic Arts 1 Plyr
Game Type Shoot-em-up Mem Card
Review Date November'97 Password
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Setting the Scene
Over the years the Strike series has helped to raise strategy wargames to a new level of excellence. Desert Strike set the ball rolling and collected many awards from around the world. It was followed by the highly successful Jungle Strike and was closely ensued by the equally popular Urban Strike. Last year saw the Strike series brought right up to date by the release of Soviet Strike on the 32-bit Playstation console. The old bitmapped graphics of old were replaced by smart photo-realistic visuals where the player could venture through a complete 3D world.

Hot on the trail of the successful strategy game Soviet Strike, comes another set of missions that feature a host of new vehicles and scenarios. This time the players objective is to 'put a stop to the war before it begins' and is titled Nuclear Strike.

The game touts a new story line where the notorious villain, Colonel Henri LeMonde steals a tactical nuclear bomb and strikes a deadly deal with North Korea. The unstable son of Kym plays right into LeMonde's hands. As if LeMonde had scripted the event, Kym concocts a scheme that nearly re-starts the Korean war. The worlds attention is riveted on the 38th parallel. This distraction gives LeMonde the opportunity he needs to commandeer an abandoned Soviet ICBM base and attempt to coerce the world to accept his demented ambitions.

Nuclear Strike is part of the thriving Strike series which has shipped more than 2.7 million units across all platforms. It is a strategic war game set over a number of battlefields. You must carry out the instructions of your commanding officer, General Earle, by striking the enemy from ground, sea and air using any of the thirteen different vehicles that are stationed around the playing area.

The latest version begins by dropping you into the jungles of Indocine to embark upon a fight to stop the madmen who are holding the world hostage with a nuclear threat. Players must complete up to ten detailed missions within six campaigns in order to neutralize them before they unleash a nuclear weapon on the world.

The most noticeable improvement is the faster frame rate which makes all of the action much more intense. Many years ago armored vehicles were renowned for their slow progress across the battlefield but recent advancements in technology have seen the tank move into action at a lightening pace proving to be the spearhead of a ground attack. This fact was not portrayed so accurately in the last Strike adventure where ground forces crawled along at a snails pace. However all armored vehicles in Nuclear Strike are souped up and ready to go. Just try holding back their advances during the Demilitarized Zone campaign when hundreds of rebel vehicles and troops pour over the North Korean border from all angles and head for the Southern capital. This forces you to seek out and use alternative transport to keep ahead of the situation.

There is also a marked improvement in the digitized 3D terrain. It may not be photo-realistic but it gets pretty damn close on the earlier levels. Without spoiling the plot the expected holocaust over Pyongyang leaves the North Korean capital a charred desolate landscape with sporadic fires ignited by the red hot molten lava. Truly spectacular while also being fearfully frightening.

The improvement of pyros provide more intense explosions and flaming debris which is highlighted by the use of some startling new lighting effects. On some occasions this appears a little over the top as a direct hit on certain land vehicles will see them disappear into a ball of flame then, several seconds later, down comes the remains, littering the land over a wide scale. A bit A-Team if you ask me but extremely well done. Taking out an oil refinery and gas station will certainly leave it's mark, a giant crater that remains as a landmark for future reference.

Once again the Strike story is relayed via some superb FMV footage. Although it would be easy to skip past these broadcasts I would recommend they are studied as many vital clues are offered for your forthcoming task by General Earle, computer expert Hack and television reporter Andrea.

Sounds and Effects
The sounds are once again excellent, from the whipping of the rotating Apache blades, to the explosive thunder as the missiles hit their targets. The enemy soldiers once again cry out convincingly as you down them with your chain-gun. Of course there are a couple of troops who will rattle your cage by throwing insults such as 'you come to wage war armed only with a knife, you fool!' Ammo is precious but a sidewinder in the gut is very gratifying.

The action is accompanied by some thrilling battle music which keeps the adrenaline pumping as you get stuck into the enemy.

'Nuclear devices come in all shapes and sizes. So do the lunatics who use them. If anyone tells you the threat of thermonuclear war is over, he's a fool, an enemy, or both'. Let's get it on.

Rather than just offering the player a new set of missions, Nuclear Strike takes on a whole new dimension of gameplay by allowing you to switch vehicles during a campaign. The Super Apache attack helicopter makes a welcome return while the inclusion of Super Commanche and Cobra helicopters will offer a variation in handling and firepower. Some of the vehicle must be unveiled as they are hidden within each level and will only be found by indiscriminate bombing while others are situated in the open near a landing site. The Hovercraft is excellent for whizzing on land or sea. The Abrahams Tank has a moving gun turret and is useful to plough through barricades and squash foot soldiers. The Press helicopter is pretty shit but is initially only used for surveillance until a more worthy chopper turns up. Huey is a little slow but packs an almighty punch. The Bulldozer returns to damage enemy aircraft before they get off the ground. Discover the Harrier Jump Jet and you're in business- high armor, powerful weapons, top handling and speed to match. It can be found during the second campaign but I'm not going to tell you where.

The missions are much more dynamic and involved than the Soviet Strike tasks and will demand that you move quickly to precise locations once the balloon goes up. If this proves a little two demanding there is now an Easy mode for beginners where your vehicle is equipped with more powerful ammo and a fuel efficient engine. You should also remember that once the action begins it is like a line of falling dominoes, therefore use as much time as is allowed to check out the terrain and remove a few hazards before the first mission begins.

The AI in Nuclear Strike has been increased to a degree that the enemies and friendlies are much more "alive" as they react to your behavior and follow your commands. Head for the advancing tanks on the East and the subs will sneak through on the West to destroy your supplies.

In the last Strike game you were forever pausing the game to check your whereabouts. This has been corrected by including a heads up display with a waypoint indicator that provides direction to the next mission while an on-screen radar is extremely helpful. The map screen once again contains all of the relevant information for each mission. Enemy positions, fuel and ammo supplies, objectives and a full debriefing of all vehicles, assets and intelligence is readily available.

There are six campaigns which are divided into missions with up to ten in each. Campaigns take place in Indocine, the South China Sea, the North Korean Capital before and after the holocaust, the Demilitarized Zone and finally the enemies highly guarded Fortress in South East Asia.

Each campaign differs and range from shielding diplomatic hostages to all out war. The two most prominent events are when diplomats are shepherded out of the city on buses and trains before the nuclear device explodes and holding back the enemies advances for a full twenty minutes before your bombers arrive to finish the job. Nerve tingling stuff.

Value for Money
New players to the Strike series will find the easy mode more to their taste as there is a wealth of information to digest before getting to grips will the control system. They will however, experience the frustrations that occur when you fail mission ten and return all the way back to the start of the campaign.

Players who have followed the series since Desert Strike on the MegaDrive and SNES some five years ago will find the new campaigns a fair challenge and will revel in the fact there are new vehicles to control.

An extremely highly polished and well presented strategic war game.

GRAPHICS: Brilliant Being a Strike fan myself I really enjoyed the new features. You feel invincible in the Harrier jet and, with care, you probably are. The tanks and scud launchers were fun but if you played around with them for too long the mission would certainly be lost. The only complaint I could envisage from veterans is that it's all over a little too fast. Don't get me wrong, each campaign should take hours to finish and you could always go back for more of the same, but I completed the whole game within a week.
GRAPHICS: Brilliant
VALUE: Brilliant

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