Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Nerf N-Strike Elite... Bottom line

As we close in this week on the Nerf launch party for the Nerf N-Strike Elite Hailfire, I figure it's only fair to finally do some actual writing, this being a blog and all.

So the Nerf N-Strike Elite line.  Hit or miss?

I'll give it a hit, but tentatively.  I really want to love it, I really do!  And I'm impressed, don't get me wrong.  But until I have the actual Hailfire in my hands to test and check out, I'm going with reservations.  Mainly cause I don't want to think the novelty and newness of everything is clouding my judgment.  These are some sweet new toys, and I think they'll add a lot of value to Nerf games far and wide, but let's still maintain a grain of salt.

What we've seen so far are UPGRADES to existing blasters.  Nerf's already received some fire for reshells (Spectre was a five-shot Maverick, the Alpha Trooper was functionally a Raider, and nevermind the countless repaints.)  I like what I'm seeing, but slam-fire and a single-shot modular blaster are things we've seen already.  The Hailfire has a new loading mech, but functionally it's a Barricade or a Nitron that it's a flywheel blaster and shoots one dart at a time as opposed to say, a spread of darts/discs.  But it's either of those blasters on steroids.  UP TO 75', and 144 shots (at max capacity) before having to refill another magazine.  It looks small, which might defuse bulky arguments, but that remains to be seen on what magazines will actually fit and how many (the speculation leads to: 35 rnd drums).  In any event, what functional hilarity this adds to the battlefield remains to be seen, and I can't wait to try dual-wielding it.

Thanks to SGNerf for the photo!

All the skepticism aside... let's get to it.  The Nerf Vortex line big ranges flat, but the discs fell victim to crosswinds more severely than darts.  They were also green, which made it harder to find in well-grown grass.  The Elite darts hit 50+ flat, but the advertised 75' comes at an angle which is to be expected.  Either way, whichever range you hit that's more than 20-30'+ that we've come to expect out of recent Nerf blaster releases.  So whether you like discs or darts, anything you've bought previous to Vortex and Elite will find you at a slight disadvantage.  I've managed to shoot straight with a Nerf Nitron, and the Retaliator and Rampage are pretty accurate at 40' and a bit more than that even.

Those of us that hold stock-ammo/blaster games are going to have some fun with this new stuff, for sure.  It changes the field a lot, having this kind of range and accuracy straight outta the box without any additional work.  Everything from the previous N-Strike line is compatible with the Elite and vice versa, so don't fret about all the streamlines you've already bought!  Just use them until you can't anymore, and go buy Elite streamlines.  They fly a tad better than the originals.

So the only real gripe is I'm still looking for something way out of left field from Nerf.  Everything here looks impressive and I am impressed with how things fire, but the functionality still feels similar.  Even their vaunted Pyragon is a disc-shooting Raider.  While things look cool, I want to see something blow my mind both in how it looks AND how it plays.  I think the last blaster to do that was the Nerf Unity Power  System because it had 3 different blasters, one of which was essentially a shotgun.  When I saw the Raider for the first time it was awesome, but then boiled down to still putting out one dart at a time, just faster.  The Deploy was hilarious in function, but past the transformation (and nobody was fooled) it was a pump-action single shot blaster, or a Furyfire.

Still though, one step at a time.  Nerf's given us souped-up ranges, a sleek color scheme, and dark blue darts. (I hope they make the darts brighter though... given the issue with green discs, white elite darts would be easier to find than dark blue.)  The Hailfire is going to have a reloading mech that looks promising at adding new body mechanics (I will admit, I liked the thumb switch on a Proton.  Made it feel very tactile and was satisfying on some level; the little things that count) to handling a blaster, which might be enough to sell it.

Speaking of selling - here we go once more with the pricing:

Nothing outrageous, and honestly I thought the Hailfire was going to cost more.  But that's enough talk.  Time to get back to blasting, and shooting foam at anything that moves.  The Elite line shows a lot of promise, and I would definitely suggest picking them up and giving them a go.  The darts are new, the blasters are new (on the inside), and it looks like Nerf's paying attention to what you, the fans want.  Better ranges and accuracy.  So show your support for what you wanted, and make sure Nerf knows this line is going to sell!  The blasters should start popping up around 8/1/12, and the Hailfire around 9/9/12.  Get on it, it's time to upgrade.

Quick edit: I was asked if the Recon barrel changed in diameter for the Retaliator, but found this instead.  When pics first surfaced people speculated but I took a pic of my clear Recon for confirmation.

Nerf N-Strike Retaliator barrel extension

Nerf N-Strike Clear Recon barrel extension
I do declare, is that rifling I see?

Walk the ladder, compadres.

P.S. - This Thursday I'll be back here posting LIVE from the Nerf Hailfire Launch in NYC (New York City!)  Posting - Youtube:
Twitter: @vasthestampede
aaaaaand this very blog!


Berkut99 said...

Its probably a wise idea to forgo on complete judgement until Elite really diffuses among the fans.

The interesting thing about the Hail Fire is that it is really nothing new to Nerf, but rather a new application of an old idea: The Motorized Ballzooka MP150. It used a virtually identical mechanism to switch ball chambers (albeit as a shotgun-style grip rather than a top-mount handle), all the way down to the pressure sensitive acceleration button for its large flywheels. The thing could launch those balls a good distance too; easily reaching 40-50 feet.

But the thing is who in the current Nerf crowd really remembers it? When it comes down to it, it has faded into obscurity. So what Nerf has done is dug into its past to present something old as new again. But we shouldn't necessarily look at this as a bad thing. Rather, we should see it as a revival and better application of what were good concepts to begin with.

Getting something out of left-field would be nice, but I feel that there's not really going to be such a thing as long as you keep your Nerf history up-to-date. What instead we should hope for is a revitalization of old ideas or reapplication of concepts we've seen in the past. This is what made the Rayven so great; it was a reapplication and re-imagining of that glow-in-the-dark stuff from the past. It wasn't a complete surprise, but it was a welcome revisit from an old concept. The Deploy was like the Expand-A-Blast, the Longshot was a re-imagining of the Sawtooth, the Barrel Break was a Warthog. What made these all great is that they were released when we least expected it.

What would I like them to revisit? I'd like to see a clip-fed Crossbow, or a new Secret Shot, or perhaps actually producing that Stampede REV-12 from the N-Strike Video Game. The question isn't what Nerf can make new, it's what can Nerf re-release right now that its consumers have nearly forgotten about from the past. That's what I'm looking forward to them doing with Elite.

Anonymous said...

^ Never thought about it that way, sure provides a different perspective.

Nerffan said...

There's rifling on both barrel extension but the Retaliator's rifling seems to be twisted while the Recon's seems to be straight.

Nik VC said...

Honestly, the N-Force line could use a restart. (i.e. a Warhammer or a Halberd) But as berkut99 said, the Stampede REV-12, a clip fed crossbow, and the new secret shot should be given a try in the new Elite line.