Saturday, July 26, 2008

Old-School World War II Gaming Reborn.... The 1942: Joint Strike Review

Capcom's remake renaissance continues in this generation of consoles with 1942: Joint Strike, a new game based from the 80s 194x series of World War II shumps. For ten dollars, or 800 Microsoft Points, you're getting a HD facelift, five levels, and pure old-school gaming in terms of no saving and memorization of enemy fire patterns. This new entry does have that same 1942 feel you expect and that's good enough for fans to enjoy it. If you're not in it for the nostalgia, getting high scores, or achievements, you're not going to get much of Joint Strike for more than a day. This is just another example of a good XBLA game that can be played in short bursts when you're tired of other games and not meant for a long stretch like other XBLA games.

Like the title, Joint Strike, this new 1942 plays differently with two players than doing it solo. Three planes are selectable when you start up a run that differ by stats of health, missiles, and speed which allows for different styles of gameplay. The three pick-up weapons also cater to different styles with spread fire, machine-gun fire, and lasers, which is neat too. As a shump, it can be challenging even at the normal difficulty as several enemy shots can take you out pending on which plane you used. The difficulty scale depends on the number of lives you start wish and how aggressive the bosses will be. Speaking of bosses, there isn't much variety to the bosses and the enemy set, which is kind of expected for a game like this, but be prepared for some repetition of enemy ships or fighting the same boss twice with a different twist the second time. Also similar to an old-school shump, once you run out of lives, its game over and you have to start over from the beginning which is not bad being five stages, but the frustration will kick in once you're close towards beating it. I also like the multiplier system for Joint Strike in which the closer you kill enemy ships, the more multiplier of points you get. Along with missiles (single-player only) and bombs if you're in a tight situation, the Joint Strikes are the main reason this game is meant to be played on co-op with another player locally or online with different attacks like a joint shot or a chain of lightning which allows more ways of taking out the opposition. Speaking of online, it runs smoothly from what I played with minimal lag, but it doesn't mean you might run into some disconnects at random times.

As for the graphics, 1942: Joint Strike looks good for a shump in this generation of consoles. The bloom and World War II-like filtering may be distracting for some players. Other than that, the game runs smoothly with rare cases of slowdown. Presentation-wise, Capcom and Backbone nailed the World War II theme with the look of the planes, the sounds and music, as well as the environments of the skies, a seaport, forests, and a city in ruins. Other than that, Joint Strike looks great keeping the 1942 spirit along with the HD facelift.

As another HD remake for Capcom, 1942: Joint Strike delivers on that front of retaining what was great in the old 194x games gameplay-wise along with the improved graphics. While it is a short game and can be beaten in less than a hour, the challenge is there along with the replay value of beating it with the three different planes and the four difficulties (Wing King being the hardest). Other than leaderboards and achievements ranging from getting lots of medals (that are picked up during the action like the old games), to getting a high score for completing the game, Joint Strike won't be your XBLA rotation for too long after getting all of them. The online co-op is great as the recommended way to play with the Joint Strike special abilities even though single-player can be a blast alone. Of course there are better shumps in Xbox Live Arcade, but this new 1942 is worth checking out if you're a fan of the genre and the franchise in the 80s.

Score = 7/10

  • Has the 1942 feel nailed down
  • Co-op is the recommended way to play this game with the ability to do Joint Strikes
  • Has enough replay value with different planes and difficulties
  • Great in short bursts
  • Short game (can be beaten in less than a hour)
  • The bloom effects and WWII filtering might be distracting for some players
  • Repetitive boss battles and enemy sets

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