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Platform(s): PSP, PlayStation 2, Wii
Genre: Action
Publisher: Codemasters


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Wii Review - 'Heatseeker'

by Aaron Lockard on June 5, 2007 @ 1:10 a.m. PDT

Heatseeker will strap you into the pilotÂ’s seat and deliver an exhilarating white-knuckle ride thatÂ’ll have you clutching the joypad as you engage in face-melting 6G turns and fight against a seemingly-impossible amount of airborne enemies.

Genre: Flight Simulation
Publisher: Codemasters
Developer: IR Gurus
Release Date: May 1, 2007

Heatseeker throws you into the cockpit of modern jet fighters traveling beyond the speed of sound. You fly B-52s ready to attack enemy fighters within a second's notice. Heatseeker is an extremely thrilling, fun game as long as you can make it past its several bugs and glitches. It is also one of the few Wii titles which implements the controls as well as Wii Sports did.

You start your fight against evil terrorists and gun traders before you can even fly in a straight line, but this does not matter. With the Wii's easy-to-use controls, you will be shooting down enemy fighters in very little time. You are given two control schemes; There's the basic arcade mode, where the plane simply follows the on-screen pointer and the Wii handles pitch and roll. You also have a much more challenging control scheme, which allows you to control the roll and pitch of your plane via the motion sensor controls.

Beyond the normal controls, you also have the ability to dodge missiles by moving the Nunchuck and Wiimote in unique ways. These dodges can be tedious to trigger, leading to missiles bombarding your plane. You will eventually get used to the specific motions required to pull off dodges but by that time, you are more than halfway through the story. You can tell IR Gurus simply ran out of buttons while porting over the controls from the PS2 version because you have five different controls requiring multiple d-pad presses that are just plain difficult to use while in the middle of a dogfight.

For the most part, the single-player missions are easy and take a mere 15 minutes to complete all of the objectives. It is only after the third campaign that the missions start to become challenging. The objectives throughout the 18 missions are quite simple but can — and do — change on the fly. You will often be taking out refueling planes, subs, and war ships on top of fighting the many enemy fighter planes. The missions are action-packed and demand full attention at all times.

Region-wise, the campaigns range from Antarctica to the Caribbean, but although the location may change, the scenes will look very similar. It would have been nice to fight over a city, for instance, rather than constantly over small islands.

Generally, you will be fighting the enemy jets alone, which make the wingman controls nearly useless. When you do have a wingman, he/she is usually quite helpful and will complete objectives and even help you out of a tight jam. At most, the enemy AI is only challenging when it gives you a split second to dodge incoming missiles. The AI just flies in circles and fires missiles and thousands of bullets, instead of performing any stunts that will leave you in awe.

Heatseeker does have several bugs that obscure gameplay and even cause the game to crash altogether. One of the most annoying bugs happen when you are using arcade-type controls; when you turn for too long, yur plane ends up being stuck at that angle, which makes it difficult to get out of harm's way. The title also has pointer problems; the pointer easily goes off screen and sometimes disappears, rendering your plane frozen in a single direction.

Among the many added features that make the game more exciting is the impact cam; it emphasizes a good missile shot with a close up of the enemy plane being blown to pieces. You also have the ability to ride on the missile you fired, which gives you a completely new perspective on the battle scene. You can change the camera view between two third-person views and one "cockpit" view that, strangely, does not give you a cockpit but places a camera right smack dab in the middle of the plane. I would really have appreciated seeing the cockpit area of these jets.

In terms of graphics, Heatseeker provides stunningly detailed planes and beautiful clouds but is completely lacking at the ground level. The islands look as bad as early PS2 offerings, with no detail whatsoever given to the vegetation. You will, however, be surprised with the fast action the title delivers with its detailed explosions, which, in part, make the impact cam work so well. Ultimately, Heatseeker was just a tad more than the average PS2 port with improved graphics and effects.

If you are looking for a realistic combat sim, however, you may want to keep looking. The intense speed and fluid controls through the Wiimote are a nice plus, but the game is very unrealistic and offers unlimited ammo; you will often have over 50 kills in each mission. Even though this is highly unrealistic, it does offer intense dog-fighting action and hours of fun.

The music in Heatseeker is almost non-existent, consisting of only basic rock tunes. As for voice actors, they are pretty good but could definitely use some work. The commander's voice and Divot (your main wingman) sound decent, but everyone else seems a bit off. The detailed explosions and wind sound effects may be the best audio this game offers. All in all, the sound is decent but not the best.

Heatseeker takes only eight to 12 hours to complete but does something most Wii games do not — it offers a story. Even though the narrative may not be detailed, it does offer one unlike the many proof-of-concept games. However, there is very little replay value here, with increased difficulty levels and several unlockables. If you are a newbie to this genre, the title will be extremely fun and layered, but flight sim aficionados will find Heatseeker to be lacking. Without a multiplayer aspect, the game itself deserves a weekend rental but not much more. Codemasters hit a highly niche market with Heatseeker, but if you're itching for a flying game, this is one of the only choices on the Wii.

Score: 7.5/10

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