At last! The sequel to the amazing Spectrum Star Wars clone Starstrike which took the games world by surprise many months ago. Starstrike II takes the story a bit further. But it sacrifices speed for frills - which may upset arcade addicts.
The basic theme of the game goes like this. The Outsiders have been driven from Federation space by the original Starstrike squadrons. Now Federation Command is launching a major offensive against the Outsiders' home planets with the next generation of Starstrike ships.
To enable the Starstrike II ships to move around the Outsiders' planetary systems, they have now been equipped with a support module which carries an interstellar hyperdrive unit and extra fuel supplies. This transports the Starstrike fighter around the Outsider systems, and enables refuelling and repair to shield systems.
The Outsiders' planets are grouped around five stars. There are 22 planets in all - and they must all be neutralised by knocking out the central control reactor which runs each planet's systems. The planets range in status from agricultural through industrial to military and all have varying defences to contend with.
A basic Starstrike II mission goes like this. You are in the support module and have to choose which star system you wish to attack from an illustrated menu. This ranges from the Alpha system through to the Epsilon system. Once done, you then see a star chart of that system and you have to select which planet you wish to attack.
It's best to start with the agricultural planets which are relatively poorly defended. Hit the fire button and it's off into space where you have to fly through special openings in Outsider force fields which surround each planet. Timing is vital to avoid collisions which weaken your shields. Once through a series of grid-like force fields, it's out into clear space where Outsider fighters wait in a second line of defence.
Two Elite-style scanners appear on your view screen to enable you to track the enemy ships and disappear when you've got him in your sights.
Starstrike II features some nice ideas and pretty graphics. It will certainly take some time before you finally pacify all the Outsider planet systems.
However, the speed of the game leaves a lot to be desired. It's relatively slow and this takes away some of the edge and urgency essential in a good arcade shoot-'em-up.
There are now lots of "filled in" 3D graphics which look nice. But do they add much to playability?
Having said that, there's lots to do and explore. And now there's an added element of strategy to work with.
Between each action section you're allowed to transfer fuel energy to your shields so you can boost your defences - but have you got enough fuel to complete your mission? The decision is yours.
Overall Starstrike II is a nice-looking, well presented and thought out game - but it needs to be faster.