Originally created 03/03/05

Have a blast shooting with 'Star Fox'

When Star Fox hit the Super Nintendo Entertainment System more than a decade ago, everything about it was revolutionary.

Advanced graphics combined with an exciting space shooting adventure to make it a classic.

Star Fox, Star Fox Assault, which was released Feb. 14, has some great moments, but it breaks no new ground in the shooter genre.

Fox McCloud and his team are back after beating Andross in the GameCube game Star Fox Adventures, but it looks as though a new threat has risen in the galaxy.

Much like the Borg of Star Trek fame, "aparoids" are trying to bend all machines and living things to their hive-minded will.

What's a clever Fox to do? Shoot everything in sight, of course. Fox and his crew jump into their Arwing fighters and blast away at enemies in space and down closer to surfaces of planets. As in Star Fox 64 for the Nintendo 64 system, players also can hop into Landmaster battle tanks for some ground-to-air and ground-to-ground combat.

The fun takes a turn for the worse, though, when players have to hop out of vehicles and run around on foot. It seems as though Fox wasn't meant to run and gun.

Steering him around on foot and using handheld weapons to maintain the rapid-fire blasting allowed in the Arwing and Landmaster are exercises in futility.

Still, two out of three isn't bad for a single-player story mode. Epic boss battles make up for the clumsy on-foot control scheme, and players can unlock the Namco classic shooter Xevious with a little effort.

There's also a terrific split-screen multiplayer mode that allows four people to blast each other to pieces in enormous arenas.

One for the money: Regarding a recent column, in which I suggested a tweak to the banking system in World of Warcraft, reader Thomas "Mystery" Valley writes: "Bill, Just read your article on WoW. I thought you may be interested in my tutorial on Antifocus.com. Check the 'OW(oW)' blog, Tutorials section. I've made a ton of money following my method, and you only have to recruit five new players. (Just kidding about that last part.) Anyway, keep up the good work. Hope you have better luck getting that cash."

I checked out Mr. Valley's blog, and he offers some solid advice about the best methods for "farming" (harvesting herbs, ore, pelts and other items) and selling your wares at the auction house while taking advantage of fluctuations in the game's economy and creating your own market.

Good stuff. If you're interested in earning some extra gold with a little commitment, give it a read. Thanks, Thomas!


Title: Star Fox Assault ($49.95, Namco, www.namco.com)

Platform: GameCube

Rating: T, Teen for fantasy violence

The verdict: HHH out of HHHHH

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