Review: Star Raiders (Atari 5200)

In this review, we zip through space in the Atari 5200 game Star Raiders. We find out if this FPS game is worth a play.

This game was released in 1982. It is a port from the Atari 8-Bit family.

You start your career as a star ship pilot in the rookie ranks. You embark on a training mission that is to destroy meteors that, well, resemble blue bowling balls.

Your ship comes equipped with a number of different features accessible via the number key pad. You can access a computer targeting system, a long range scanner, hyperspace navigation, and a map of the various sectors in space.

The objective for the first mission is, well, I never really figured that out. I tried destroying as many meteors, figuring that enough destruction will allow me to advance to the next stage. Instead, the space port got invaded and destroyed in the process after I lost track at 50 targets destroyed.

Apparently, I am supposed to work my way through space to get back to the station and defend it. This is supposed to utilize the navigation map in some way. This is where I began running into problems. The numbers proved to be randomly unresponsive. Even when I’m hitting the correct number, the map flashes on the screen and is instantly taken off again. So, I couldn’t even get a chance to figure out the map.

After a while of just floating around in space (hitting any number apparently stops you cold and nothing will get you back up to speed apparently), I just eventually let a meteor hit me because I just gave up trying to figure out the way the game works.

The plus side of this game is that this game has a pretty decent first person perspective. For a game of its time, it’s actually pretty good.

Generally speaking, the learning curve is very steep. With unresponsive controls, any hopes of progressing through the game are more or less dashed. Still, you do get to fly around and blast training targets. This aspect of the game isn’t that bad.

Graphically speaking, I wish there was more color variety. Telling the difference between a meteor and a star is virtually impossible until the meteors grow in visible size as you approach them. This pushes the reaction time down by quite a bit. What little I’ve seen of the graphics, the map overlay and other features could’ve used more in the way of color.

No real music to speak of, but the sound effects are pretty decent. So, some fairly decent audio for the time.

Overall, this game was a bit of a miss for me. The steep learning curve combined with unresponsive controls just did not permit me to advance through the game in any way. The space combat with the targets (which is about all I could enjoy) was pretty decent. Unfortunately, the objectives just weren’t that clear in game. The graphics are OK – especially since there is a first person perspective going on. Unfortunately, the variety in color is decidedly lacking. No music, but the sound effects are decent enough. Overall, this was a less than stellar experience for me.

Furthest point in game: Ranked 5 at one point. Otherwise, don’t really know.

General gameplay: 14/25
Replay value: 5/10
Graphics: 6/10
Audio: 3/5

Overall rating: 56%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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