With the re-release of Capcom's 1942 for the Pocket PC, we were bound to
see a similar title for the Palm OS. Ludigames, creators of notable
Pocket PC titles like Rayman, have created a rather original title. I
don't think there is one game in recent memory that allows you to play
Nazis as the protagonists (keyword: pro). Most of the games, I admit,
like Return to Wolfenstein or Day of Defeat, let you assume the role of
Germans but you always know in no uncertain terms that you are an
antagonist, as in, one of the bad guys. The eastern front, arguably the
pivotal front that changed the tide of WWII, is pretty ambiguous but
we'll leave that kind of pondering to the historians. Here, you assume
the persona of three Luftwaffe pilots heading off to the Soviet front.
Despite the charming story, the gameplay is a rehash of all games
originating from the 1942 motif. You proceed through seven levels of
increasing difficulty with various 'boss' characters to defeat at
certain points. Although there are a few level design tricks thrown in,
like the inclusion of gauntlet runs, there isn't much to revolutionize
or turn this game into something else. Unlike what history has told us,
apparently the Luftwaffe aces like to fly solo battling wave after wave
of enemies. I assume we're in the latter stages of the war when the
Soviets have achieved some sort of industrial supremacy over Germany.
At least one part of the story is historically accurate: the Soviets
don't care about losses and continually pile enough machinery on you
that you would think the fallout from downed planes would crush whatever
ground forces the communists might have. But I digress, since no one
plays these games for plot.
The pace of the game is easy to follow in the beginning and by no means
does it ever approach the insanity of Japanese shooters where the
playing field is so blurred from action that you can't really know
what's going on. If you are a veteran of titles like Giga Wing 2, this
will be but a mild exercise for your fingers. Interface and controls
can be done through the physical buttons, graffiti area and using the
stylus on screen. This control scheme is great and I wish more
developers would give us this flexibility but the ability to remap the
key controls is mysteriously missing. Instead, you must conform to the
Siberian Strike's orthodoxy is apparent in its top-down perspective.
However, it is one of the best looking arcade shooters, par excellence,
for the Palm platform so far. The colours are extremely vibrant and
make good use of the hardware available. The audio treatment, of
course, has much to be desired but still, the developers try to include
as many effects as they can with the limited capabilities of a Palm PDA.
A nod must be given to them for at least trying. The audio can quickly
be turned off for times when you want to be discreet. The monochrome
version is not too far off in detail from the colour one. Many titles
these days have severely crippled monochrome versions but the developers
here have made it an easier transition. You don't think you paid for a
sub-par version of the product if you play the black and white one. The
contrast is a little wanting though because of the copious amounts of
shading involved. Under direct sunlight, the frantic action is more
difficult to follow in monochrome.
Siberian Strike has an impressive website with the same trappings and
care given to PC titles. You can download wallpapers, view video
trailers of the title and even listen to mp3s related to the game. A
well-rounded showing in the actual game, on the other hand, cannot make
up for the fact that this title offers nothing really revolutionary.
Replaying it will allow you to unlock new bonuses or try out new planes.
However, the experience isn't too much different from the first run you
give it. One improvement that I thought might be good is the addition
of multiplayer using IR to another PDA. That would have given some
incentive to play the game through again co-operatively. Just look at
what is being done with Bungie's Halo these days. Another element that
could be added might be an overall campaign map, most famous in
Westwood's Dune franchise. That way, the see-saw battles back and forth
could at least be justified. If all you want is to shoot some things
up, Siberian Strike does an elegant job of it. Your mileage may vary,
depending on your skill, on how long it takes to get to Siberia.
Ultimately, you might find the trip a bit too short.
[07/10] Program Size
[14/15] Learning Curve
[ N/A ] Multiplayer