Desert Strike review - Sega Megadrive
Using all manner of cunning trickery and political manoeuvring, an evil Middle East dictator named General Killbaba has successfully launched a military attack against a small neighbouring nation.
Overwhelming the peaceful country with instruments of destruction, the inhabitants are ruthlessly hunted down and enslaved. Due to the tense political geography of the area, the United Nations are unable to take direct military action against the offending nation, but there is hope…
In-between wheezing, collapsing and suffering various heart attacks, the US president devises a devious plan with which to remove the dictator and send his forces packing. Sending in a lone Apache helicopter gunship with a back up support warship, the President believes that a short, sharp series of attacks should get the job done.
Operation: Desert Strike is initiated and the warship dispatched. Once the vessel nears the shores of the occupied country, further details of the mission are revealed. It transpires that the gun ship must infiltrate five occupied strongholds and use its advanced weaponry to take out various targets designated by the mission controllers.
Dotted around the map are extra supplies, consisting of ammunition, armour and fuel for the gunship. Also found around the desert landscapes are MIAs (friendly soldiers Missing In Action behind enemy lines) who are rescued for extra points and may even supply some useful information once they are returned safely to the Desert Strike HQ. Double agents whose cover has been blown may also make their presence known. Rescue these disguised fellows and some of the enemy's twisted battle plans may be unveiled.
The enemy nation have not made things easy for you. During their short occupation, they have commandeered military posts armed with massive cannons and SAMs (Surface to Air Missiles). Enemy planes and choppers may also make an appearance. Not surprisingly, finding an advanced US gunship on their newly-acquired territory causes them to fire at you without provocation. Luckily you have full authority from your superiors to use any methods available to complete your mission (in other words, you're free to blow the hell out of anything you want!).
But remember, your gunship only has a limited amount of armour and should the enemy forces get through your shielding, you're history fly boy!
What the Mean Machines staff thought
Similar in concept to a superb old C64 computer classic called Raid on Bungeling Bay, Desert Strike is another absolutely cracking title from Electronic Arts. It's basically a very sophisticated shoot 'em up with loads to do. The gameplay is brilliant and I love the way you can tackle things in any order you like - searching for MIAs first, destroying a power station or taking out the airport! You've also got to think ahead and work out optimum routes so that you leave yourself with enough fuel and ammunition to be able to complete all the assignments in that mission. Things get very tense when supplies are low and you've still got an assignment to finish AND return to the frigate to complete the level! The graphics (particularly the helicopter sprite) and the sound are both excellent and the whole game is beautifully presented with cut-screens, mission details and map screens galore! But how long will all this excitement last? Ruddy ages, that's how long! There are five main missions, each with tem sub-missions, and later ones are incredibly difficult. And even if you get through them all, you still return to see whether you can score more points and find things that you might have missed. Desert Strike is one of the finest Megadrive blasters yet seen, and you'd be bonkers to miss it.
Desert Strike begins with an excellent introduction and some brilliant Rob Hubbard tunes. This quality extends to the game itself. It's not an all-out shoot 'em up as such. Of course, there are loads of enemy soldiers and targets to blow up, but the limits to your missiles, fuel and ammunition make you think before you blast. Adding variation are the sub-tasks, like picking up the MIAs and returning them to base. The graphics are excellent. Although some of the backdrops look a bit repetitive, this is more than made up for by the brilliant definition and animation on all of the sprites. The gunship in particular is excellent. Desert Strike is also a very challenging game. You should be able to complete level one in your first session, but after that things get incredibly difficult with enemy tanks, SCUD missile launchers and bazooka-totting soldiers making things a bit trickier! Definitely the best Megadrive game this month, Desert Strike is a worthy purchase.
Have your say about this review
Ben Parkinson - 20 Aug 2008, 15:38 GMT
I still love playing this game. Not so impressed by any of the follow-up titles though.
I wonder if EA will resurect the 'Strike' franchise for the current generation?
As long as they dont change anything too much they would be on to a winner i think.
Dan - 17 Mar 2009, 16:09 GMT
The Strike series was pretty funky, but the sequals lost a bit of the original's magic with the introduction of those God-awful vehicles such as the stealth bomber. This was awesome mind, and had it had a few more levels would have been up there with the greatest. N remember the ending? Mint!
mitzibishi - 22 Jul 2009, 03:58 GMT
another EA classic. a must play. had a great story and cut-scenes, blew me away at the time
marky - 10 Dec 2012, 02:13 GMT
if i remember rightly at the end cut scene your sittin on the beach smokin a fat cigar happy days