NERF: N-Strike Elite Review

NERF certainly has come a long way.  From its origins as a football designed to protect uncoordinated kids trying to play catch from breaking their noses, it has evolved into an entire array of kid-safe toys including relatively safe and non-violent weaponry.  NERF's evolution continues in N-Strike Elite which integrates NERF's real-world toy guns into a virtual world in which spunky tweens use the power of NERF weapons to stop a robot army.  This integration is achieved through a pretty cool little NERF gun peripheral.

The peripheral is a fully-functional NERF gun that comes with a ser of soft NERF darts.  Load up a dart, pull back on the firing pin, and pull the trigger and you'll fire the gun, sending your dart at your target, which is more than likely a younger sibling.  When it comes time to go virtual, you simply pull out the gun's barrel and slip a Wii Remote into its place.  The gun's trigger will now pull the Remote's trigger, but you'll still need to hit all of the other buttons on the Remote yourself.  The gun holds the remote in place securely, and it has a nice heft and balance to it.  The gun also includes a clear, red plastic shield that snaps into place at the gun's rear sight.  You'll be instructed to look through this shield at certain points during the game to reveal hidden messages on the screen or to reveal enemy weak spots.  This is more of a gimmick than anything else, and while kids may enjoy this, most everyone else will quickly grow tired of squinting through the little shield while shooting at things on the screen.

The game itself has two modes of play - a story mode and a shooting gallery - and if you've ever played a ligh gun game before then you already have a pretty good idea of what to expect from this game.  The basic story in the main mode is that you're a member of the four person, all-kid N-Strike team.  When trouble comes calling in the form of a robot invasion, you grab your NERF guns, catch a ride, and shoot at everything that moves.  The game is a pure rail shooter, meaning that you don't have to worry about moving - just aim at what you see on the screen and shoot.  In sticking with the NERF theme of non-violence, only NERF darts and balls are fired during battles, you only shoot robots and other non-living things, and you never die in the game.  Enemy shots that hit you leave little NERF darts stuck to the screen for a few moments and if you're hit too many times you're presented with a text screen informing you that your shields have been depleted and you'll need to restart from the last checkpoint.  It takes a little skill to hit targets in the game and not just because of the Wii's imprecise motion detection.  The NERF dart and ball trajectory is affected by gravity so you'll need to adjust your shots to hit distant targets.  Your shots are also affected by your choice of character as each has his/her particular strength such as increased range or rate of fire.  It all makes the game a little more challenging to play than a simple mouse-clicking simulator that has you pointing the reticule at a target and pulling the trigger, but not so much so that it makes it tough for younger kids to play.

In addition to the relatively short story mode there's a shooting gallery, but this mode isn't that much fun.  There's only a single level and it's mostly filled with stationary targets.  The object is to score as many points as possible within the given time, which is enough to motivate you to play it a couple of times before you become bored with it.

NERF Elite Strike Force won't appeal to anyone who's made it to, or beyond, junior high.  Even though kids will probably have some fun with it and won't mind its repetitive nature as much, it would have been nice if there was more variety in the game or it had a better story.  Think of it as a Saturday morning cartoon - it's passable entertainment for kids, but it's no Pixar movie.  And if you buy it for your kids be mindful that the game also serves as a NERF commercial and be prepared for requests to buy the real-life versions of the guns appearing in the game.

In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 68%. It's hardly an 'elite' game, but it will keep the kiddies entertained for a bit.

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