Flying through the danger zone…
Back in the 80s, Top Gun was the macho film to watch. Everyone wanted to be able to fly F-16s and shoot down Migs, whilst giving the finger to Russian pilots. The trouble was you couldn’t really do it. Most people were not American ace pilots and the flight simulators at the time didn’t really give you the same buzz. More recently there have been several Top Gun based games, but even they failed to capture the adrenalin rush that was expected!
Now we have Heatseeker, an unashamed homage to the whole Top Gun phenomenon. With its blistering speed and simple arcade style dog fighting combat, you can finally relive those classic moments if machismo!
Things go a little Burnout as the scenery blurs around you, great stuff!!
Heatseeker puts you in the role of Mike “Downtown” Hudson, a rookie pilot who has been transferred to help protect a small island base. Soon he finds himself thrown into the middle of an all out war. With his base quickly destroyed he and the rest of his allies are forced to relocate to an aircraft carrier. This war takes place over 18 increasingly hectic missions and has you flying in one of several planes, including the F-15, F-16, Stealth Bomber and F-22 Raptor. The story is driven with news reels and mission briefings, but in most cases you may as well just skip past these and get on with the action!
There are a couple of different mission types with in each scenario. You may be asked to do recon on ships and bases to see if they are friend or foe. You may just be asked to defend something, by shooting down wave after wave of enemy fighters. Some missions require you to bomb bases or runaway jeeps, or take on enemy gun ships at sea. There is some variety there at least.
Controls are catered for with 2 styles, arcade and professional. Arcade has the plane handling a bit like After Burner, with the plane constantly righting its self. Professional affords more control and is, to be honest, a lot more fun! Both schemes are easy to learn and should provide no problems during the game. Most of the time you will be using missiles to shoot at stuff. These have a good auto-target and lock-on system. Switching targets is just a matter of pressing triangle. Your speed is a bit more difficult to control. You are set at a constant speed which can be temporarily increased or decrease using L2 and R2. This can make it a bit awkward to dogfight as you can never quite get your speed right! Holding down R2 will engage the afterburner, giving you a huge boost of speed. There is a great sonic boom effect and things go a little Burnout as the scenery blurs around you, great stuff!!
Generally the game looks ok. The planes are nicely rendered, with just enough detail to make the recognisable. The cockpit view is well thought out, even if some of the on screen messages can obscure everything at times! Scenery is nice, but not all that varied the majority of it being the sea. All of this is ok though, as you spend a lot of your time up in the clouds! The frame rate never seems to drop, no matter how full the sky has become. Overall though, it does show that the PlayStation 2 is now an aging console.
As you destroy the bad guys you often get a little cut scene of their demise, which adds to the cinematic feel the game has. Also you can sit behind missiles and watch as they impact your prey! At the end of the mission you are given the chance to watch a replay, from several camera angles, which is nice.
With the speed and the hectic action, not to mention the unlimited ammo, Heatseeker ticks all the boxes for a fun game. The only trouble is that it has no real depth. This in its self is not a bad thing, but you do find your self going into a trance as you take out endless waves of Migs. For me though it has been a thoroughly enjoyable game to play. If you want to feel like Tome Cruise in Top Gun, even for a few minutes, then this is the game for you, just don’t expect to get the girl at the end of it!
The Bad: Lacks variety. Story line is a bit weak.