Heatseeker. The Unbearable Lightness of flying.

versione in italiano

Do you ever wanted to join Airforce? Do you ever had a dream to be a jet fighter pilot? Now, Wii…can!

 HeatseekerI must confess, I am an enthusiast flight-sim pilot. I am an old gamer, too. I say it not to be a snob (retro)gamer but I want to tell you that I am that kind of gamer who loves top-notch simulations, huge manuals, a lot of hours spent in learning how to fly. But flying without firing is not so exciting. Falcon 4.0 and IL-2 Sturmovik are my favourite flight simulations. Heatseeker is the exact opposite.

That’s why I was really skeptic about this game. The developer, IRGurus (now Transmission Games), is not new to this kind of game: Heroes of the Pacific, released in 2003, was a good arcade combat flight game (not a simulation). Heatseeker is similar but Nintendo Wii makes it unique.

Heatseeker is an arcade game, has a predictable gameplay, no dynamic war theatre, no complex commands. You can control aircraft by the Wii remote, point it a little up and the aircraft will climb, point it a little down and the aircraft will pitch, gentle turn on the right or left and the aircraft will roll and turn in that direction. Press trigger B, cannons fire or missiles will be launched; press button A, lock on the target. Wii remote makes intuitive every basic manoeuvre and adds improvements in sensation to-be-there.

Experienced flight simmers will not agree because of the lack of any of the deepest aspect of flying as avionics, different radar modes, detailed and interactive 2D/3D cockpit, but new comers will appreciate: no more confusion because of that “jungle” of buttons and levers.

Comparing to sophisticated flight simulation, Heatseeker is like flying with no-frills airlines: no accessory services, just only flight.

That kind of “policy” applies to graphics and audio effects. I must reckon that graphics and audio aren’t what you may expect from a “next-gen” console (a bit embarrassing for a Gamecube, too): you have good aircraft models, an excellent feeling of speed but also basic environment graphics, standard sound effects and awful voice acting (please note that I’m Italian so I speak about this version)

Spaaaarare oh-oh!
Spaaaarare oh-oh!

Gameplay consists in 18 missions with different objectives but basically is the same-old-story: you will have to engage furious dogfights,whoooooosh, lock on every possible target, biiiiiiiiiiii, shake off swarm of fighters, chaff chaff, evade missiles, chaff chaff…but it’s definitely fun!

Despite predictable gameplay and old-gen audio-visual effects, Heatseeker is simply fun because controls make for an immersive experience.

Two different control methods are possible: “arcade” and “professional”. “Professional” scheme is a bit more complex because it uses the motion sensing of both controllers. Arcade control scheme uses the nunchuck as a throttle and the Wii remote to pitch, yaw, roll and do all the acrobatics you are able to. Most people would find more intuitive the “Arcade” control method.

The only issue is about Wii D-pad controls because there are too many functions assigned and the D-pad is a little difficult to press, especially while flying in the middle of a fight.

A bunch of the most famous military jets can be select to take off and a lot of others can be unlocked when you succeed in missions. The selection includes the well known F-15, F-16, F-22, F-18 and also MIGs and some stealth fighters. Different aircrafts have different characteristics and combinations of payloads. Flying each aircraft feels a little different, but nothing that can’t be mastered with ease. It doesn’t add any deep, just a little more of variety.

If you read about this game on the net, you will have a mixed bag of mediocre and decent reviews. My first impression was a game to be left on the shelf. At the zenith of a terrible crysis of flight simulation’s abstinence, I decided to give it a try.

Here’s my personal advice: if you are a kind of gamer that can’t live without jaw-dropping at the screen, you can live without Heatseeker. If you are interested in feeling a real sense of awe, you have to load Heatseeker and you will be surprised how an old-generation console game can give such a different taste to a well known game experience. It’s like having everyday the same soup, but this time your mom added that special spice that makes the difference, a tiny difference that makes the usual soup more tasteful than ever (every subliminal allusion to Cooking Mama is purely accidental). That’s the magic of Wii.

If you want to experience a combat flight simulation, please have a seat, fasten belts and be ready to chaff: Falcon 4.0 Allied Force.


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