The last two games released on the PlayStation features highly praised live-action cut-scenes which reflects what's going on in the game.
Levels are composed of several missions that must be completed sequentially, as the defenses of more advanced objectives are much stronger. A typical level starts by requiring the player to rescue a MIA soldier who carries information, then destroy a radar or power facility, followed by disabling the defenses that were serviced by the target of the previous mission, then capturing an enemy general for additional information and finally destroying another building. Between the levels, cut-scenes with the story developing take place.
There are several kinds of enemies, from foot soldiers armed with nothing more than a handgun to powerful Anti-aircraft artillery and enemy helicopters. Each enemy has its own damage per round and firing speed capacities, and the player must balance their ammo, fuel, the target's ability and decide if it's better to deploy a powerful missile (such as a Hellfire in Desert Strike) to destroy an opponent, or save them and use the chain gun or weaker missiles to disable it. Generally, other than the occasional (usually useless) soldier, the player has no backup, and must deal with the opponents on his own, though both Soviet Strike and Nuclear Strike incorporated missions involving large amounts of allies.
The player can lose a game in several ways; by losing all lives, destroying the main drop point, killing an important person (allied or enemy) or having a SNAFU.
The series was militaristic in nature, with each enemy sprite having a corresponding information section in the pause menu, relating details of the real world weapon (or a fictionalised version, in the case of non-existent weapons, such as the Mohican helicopter from Urban Strike). The next generation titles, Soviet Strike and Nuclear Strike, featured plots based heavily on present day geopolitics, such as the instability of post-USSR states, or tensions at the DMZ between North and South Korea. However, in contrast, the games often displayed a quirky sense of humour, featuring numerous appearances by Elvis and even Santa Claus, as well as wisecracks from the player character in the earlier games (in Urban Strike, the player's character, on being told the villain is an evil genius, comments: 'Great, another evil genius. Why can't I ever fight an evil idiot?') Although ostensibly serious in nature, the games were often quite tongue-in-cheek in their execution.
Released originally in 1992 for the Amiga, Mega Drive/Genesis, Master System and Super NES, and later (1994) for DOS Personal Computers. It was also released for most portable platforms; the Atari Lynx was the first, in 1993, followed by the Game Gear (1994), Game Boy (1995) and finally Game Boy Advance in 2002, developed by Budcat Creations. In November 2006, Electronic Arts also ported Desert Strike to the PlayStation Portable as part of EA Replay.
The story follows the player, an AH-64 Apache (although the title screen for most versions seems to show a Comanche used in the game's sequel instead as the rear rotor of the helicopter used in the game was actually Comanche's rear rotor) pilot in a conflict inspired by the Gulf War. A year after the Gulf War, General Ibn Kilbaba takes over a small Arab Emirate and plans to start World War III, and the player must open way for ground troops by disabling most of his defense and offense, and finally take on the "Madman" himself.
This time, the player is at the controls of a RAH-66 Comanche in a crusade against the son of General Kilbaba, who allies with a notable drug baron named Carlos Ortega to take his revenge on the United States.
Although called Jungle Strike, the first mission is played in Washington D.C., where the player must protect the presidential motorcade from terrorists infiltrated into the city. Later in the game, the player is also able to drive a hovercraft, a motorcycle and a stolen F-117 Nighthawk. In a double ending, the player returns to Washington to be decorated by Bill Clinton (who is actually credited in the ending sequence), and must deal with the threat inside the city for a second time.
Released originally for the Mega Drive/Genesis in 1993, it was later ported to the Amiga (1994) and finally SNES, DOS, Game Gear and Game Boy in 1995.
As with Desert Strike, Jungle Strike is also included in the EA Replay compilation mentioned above. This is the first game in the Strike series to which allows the player to control different vehicles other than the Apache.
The final 2D title, it was released in 1994 for the Mega Drive/Genesis, one year later for SNES and the Game Gear, and finally in 1996 for the Game Boy.
In a fictional 2001, a millionaire, former presidential candidate, and fanatic cult leader named H. R. Malone plans on toppling the government using a super weapon he is constructing, and the player must deal with this threat. It soon turns out, however, that the villain is really Carlos Ortega, the drug lord who was thought dead after Jungle Strike.
Like Jungle Strike, Urban Strike starts on a completely different setting than the name suggests, this time all over the North American continent (beginning in Hawaii). The biggest new feature were on-foot missions, where the player was required to leave the helicopter at certain points and enter internal environments armed with a rifle and missile launcher.
Interestingly, Urban Strike shows a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center towers in 2001, although the method of attack differs, the game's primary villain attacks New York with a laser weapon.
The game is the first in the series to be set in a somewhat different set of circumstances, where the player is a Commander within a covert military organization called "STRIKE" rather than United States army special unit.
Upon the fall of the Soviet Union, the world is suddenly threatened by a fictional former chairman of the KGB whose name may be a play on "what's-his-name" -- referred to as "Uri Vatsiznov," alias "The Shadowman" . The villain gathers a large military force to attempt to start a nuclear war, capturing various territories along the former Communist Bloc, and setting up various military installations. The player must free these territories and destroy the increasingly more dangerous enemy weapons across five stages, ending with a climactic encounter with the villain in Moscow as he takes control of the May Day Parade and attempts to assassinate president Boris Yeltsin and the entire Russian cabinet, whilst at the same time launching nuclear weapons from the heart of the Kremlin.
This is the first Strike game to feature cinematic cut-scenes, introducing new characters such as General Earle (who leads the organization), "Hack" (who provides technical analysis), Andrea Grey (a STRIKE commando which doubles as a news reporter coordinating coverups of STRIKE involvements) and Nick Arnold, your co-pilot - who seems to get into more trouble than he stops. Some of the cut-scenes have an innuendo about the murder of President John F. Kennedy, hinting that he was killed by the military-industrial complex.
This is also the first game in the series to feature actual music whilst the player is flying a mission, rather than just at the end of a mission.
Released in 1997 for the Sony PlayStation and personal computers, and in 1999 for the Nintendo 64.
An ex-CIA operative named Colonel LeMonde (played by Bo Hopkins) has stolen a nuclear warhead. It is up to the player to find the warhead before LeMonde uses it for nefarious purposes. Among the locations visited is the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. The playable vehicles include the Super Apache helicopter, a Harrier jet, tanks, and a hovercraft. Nuclear Strike also brought the RAH-66 Comanche back; this time it had a wing-tip system setup, unlike in Jungle Strike. Best of all, it allowed the player to pilot a fictional VTOL version mighty A10 'Thunderbolt' strike aircraft in the DMZ mission.
New features include an on-screen radar and a playback option to replay previous mission cut-scenes. It features several new characters as well as many returning from Soviet Strike, General Earl, "Hack", Andrea Grey, and a brief appearance by Nick Arnold (Found KIA in objective 2 of the first mission). The game also features two new characters: Southeast Asian rebel Naja and British mercenary Harding Cash.
The N64 version of the game is more like Nuclear Strike Remix, more than a port, with missions being rearranged and shorter. This was due to technical limitations of the N64 (notably the inability to play movies) versus the Playstation, as well as series co-Director Tony Barnes' return to lead the design and implementation of the N64 version.
The final cut-scene of Nuclear Strike includes a trailer for the next game in the series, Future Strike, including shots of a mech robot called 'Warrior'. Future Strike was never released, but that development of the game evolved into Future Cop: L.A.P.D., which features gameplay similar to the previous Strike games and a mech robot like the one seen in the Future Strike trailer.