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CONSOLE: PlayStation 3 DEVELOPER: Double Helix Games PUBLISHER: Capcom
RELEASE DATE (NA): February 18, 2014 GENRE: Platformer/Adventure
// review by SoyBomb

Take a slice of life.

And now, a word from our hero, Strider Hiryu:

Hello, I'm Strider. You might remember me from such games as "Strider" and "Strider". But I'm here today to present to you a brand-new game called "Strider". If you loved my classic building-hopping, soldier-slicing antics back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, then you'll absolutely melt over me doing the same things again, only this time with HIGH RESOLUTION STATE-OF-THE-ART GRA—oh wait, we already did that in 1990.

Yes, in the wake of reviving many of its older intellectual property to a new generation of digital game players, Capcom brought back Strider, its nonchalant no-nonsense ninja, with the aid of Double Helix Games, known for its previous work on Silent Hill: Homecoming and the first season of Killer Instinct on Xbox 360. Back in the day, Strider was known for his impressive slicing ability thanks to the Cypher, a plasma-based sword capable of cutting through practically anything that crossed its path with a range above twice as long as his own body. The same is definitely true of this 2D platformer reboot, as Strider's back in full form, as able to dice up the competition with little effort.

The game plunks the hero back in the heart of Kazakh City, just as he was in the arcade classic. (This is, after all, a reboot and a retelling of his original story.) Set in the tepid and sterile future of 2048, we are faced with a depressing era as the might of one "Grandmaster Meio" rules over the entire world. And apparently, Meio's not doing a great job. A jar of mayo would be more beloved than this sharp dictator. As a result, an organization known as the Striders send Strider Hiryu, one of their key ninja superstars, to Kazakh to assassinate the Grandmaster and cripple the Soviet Socialist Republic that has coated the planet.

Ultimately, you're going to be infiltrating anything and everything, disabling the many mechanisms that make the city run so efficiently. Doing so will require you to unfortunately take the lives of many Kazakh soldiers along the way, but luckily your Cypher is fairly well-equipped for the job. Unfortunately, some soldiers later on are quite strong against your puny plasma; luckily, as hoped, Strider's going to be picking up PLENTY of upgrades, including Cypher improvements, health lengtheners (is there a better word for this?), and new abilities, such as tossing kunai or summoning an eagle to take you places. Strider even has abilities his previous self never had, such as using his Cypher to freeze enemies into a giant ice shard. There are tons of new moves to find, although keeping track of how to execute all of them is a tricky move in itself.

Despite its more labyrinthine Metroidvania-style level structure, Strider is a bit more linear than either Metroid or Castlevania. Although there are indeed times to explore or revisit areas, your general path will be littered with very similar tasks, along the lines of "go here", "turn on this mechanism", and "go defeat this". That's not necessarily a bad thing, and it does keep in the spirit of the classic Strider games. You also get a map that shows exactly where your next direct destination is, which reinforces the game's philosophy of basically telling you where to go. Because it's fairly easy to get lost, I consider this feature a boon. Then again, it also tells you where all the Strider upgrades are, so...the hunt doesn't exactly require a lot of hunting.

Despite your lengthy Cypher, the world can still crush you like a beer can.

Now here's perhaps the most important thing you need to know: this reboot of Strider is VERY enjoyable. The feeling of just dashing along, cutting through any fleshy being or robotic behemoth that wants to shoot you down is exhilarating. The boss battles keep you focused and on your toes. And the nice thing is, even with the swarms of enemies that can sometimes give you grief, I never felt entirely overwhelmed; there was always the sense of "I can do this"-ism. The only issues of note were the situations involving a lot of jumping... and avoiding obstacles that will clearly kill you, such as dodging lasers and electric fences. These may require practice...

Your environs won't exactly elicit surprise and awe — this is clearly not a triple-A, 50 million dollar production — but they do serve the purpose of setting the scene. To put it bluntly, the game is dark. And I don't mean dark just as in "Oop, I can't see a durn thing!" You CAN see. That's not the issue. I mean dark as in, that's its tone, done on purpose to reflect the desolate nature of Strider's situation. Bright colour does definitely exist here, mostly in the flashes of his Cypher swipes, but occasionally in the backgrounds, such as a toxic sludge-filled basin. (Word to the wise: don't jump in.) As for its audio, Strider draws from past iterations for some of its repertoire, although many tunes are new, heavily based in electronic sounds over symphonic compositions, perhaps as a throwback to its source material. The music's pretty good and often matches the high-energy mood of the game. There's also plenty of voice acting of pretty much every notable character; some of it is delivered in an unmistakably cheesy Russian accent, but the acting is overall suitable.

As well, Strider isn't without its glitches. I managed to trigger a cutscene with simply a staunch glowing yellow background, having to wait several seconds before the rest of the actual background scenery would pop up. Stranger still, I was able to get myself not only stuck in a wall, but I was able to travel inside the walls to take a look around the area! It took a few minutes to actually get myself out of that situation, and I ended up tumbling right into a boss fight I did not anticipate.

The newest Strider game has its flaws and could be considered too much of a slasher above all else or a game that focuses more on its swanky style, but I quite enjoyed it. Admittedly, I was a little apprehensive before starting this one, as I'm not exactly proficient or a master of older Strider titles, but this one felt natural in my hands. Strider is a good choice for those looking for a less-expensive action title that rings in the nostalgia factor but can still hold up today.

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