Heatseeker PlayStation 2
Published by: Codemasters
Developed by: IR Gurus
Release Date: Out Now
One of the better air-combat games we've played in recent years is Heroes of the Pacific. Also developed by IR Gurus, Heatseeker is an arcade-style modern air combat game featuring a variety of real-world aircraft. Given that Heroes of the Pacific was so enjoyable you'd think that a similar game, using modern aircraft, from the same developers would definitely be an exciting prospect. However, exciting prospects do not always realise their full potential and for a variety of reasons Heatseeker just doesn't manage to be as enjoyable as Heroes of the Pacific.
Whilst there is a story here, it's a paper-thin one and not one that's going to capture the imagination. Fortunately it's not the type of game that relys on an interesting storyline as the focus is firmly placed on action. The game offers a Campaign mode and a Mission mode where you can replay the missions that you've played through in the campaign. The game offers three difficulty settings: Rookie, Pilot and Ace. There are also two different flight models: Arcade and Professional. With the Arcade the control is as simple as can be with the aircraft automatically correcting itself whereas the Professional flight model is more involved and will appeal to those who want to feel in total control of their aircraft.
The games eighteen missions are spread over four different locations and during these missions you'll get to fly aircraft such as the F-15, F-16 and F-22. Each mission charges you with defeating wave after wave of enemies, defending structures or taking out certain enemy structures. Heatseeker does have its enjoyable moments but they are few and far between in all honesty. Compared to IR Gurus previous title, Heroes of the Pacific, Heatseeker just doesn't have the same addictive qualities to keep you coming back for more. Some missions are quite enjoyable whilst others are just plain tedious and go on for far too long. The ones where you have to take out a handful of enemies then take out another wave of enemies and then take out another wave of enemies (yes the enemies like to attack in waves rather than simply swarming you in high numbers) become tiresome very quickly. The challenge is getting locked-on to your enemies so that you can fire a missile at them. There are guns at your disposal (and occasionally bombs when the mission requires them) but they aren't very effective.
Graphically Heatseeker is disappointing. The aircraft models are quite good but almost every other object in the game looks quite poor. When flying low you'll notice the very low detail on terrain, water and buildings. Explosions also look quite primitive, which is unfortunate given that the camera zooms in on them by default (a feature which is known as Impact Cam). When flying just above the clouds you'll notice them pop-up and this looks quite poor. Of course given the nature of a game like Heatseeker it's bound to be compared to the Ace Combat series and given how well the Ace Combat games have looked on the PlayStation 2 it makes Heatseeker feel like a low budget title that's a little bit of an ugly duckling.
Heatseeker does offer subtitles and they are enabled by default. The games cutscenes are subtitled. Mission objectives are shown in text and you're also notified when they have been completed. You're notified in text when a checkpoint has been reached. Radio communications are shown in text. Force feedback has been used well and visual indicators show you the direction of your enemies. The voice of your onboard computer isn't subtitled, although to be fair these communications aren't of the greatest importance and not being aware of them certainly doesn't hinder your progress.
As we mentioned earlier, Heatseeker does have a low-budget title feel to it and had it been priced accordingly there wouldn't have been too much to be upset about. However, the game is priced at £29.99 and at that price it's difficult to recommend, especially if you have yet to play the Ace Combat titles. The story is pretty much nonexistent and some of the missions are just tedious. Graphically the game also falls short. Given how enjoyable Heroes of the Pacific was, it's disappointing to find that Heatseeker doesn't even come close to living up to its expectations.
Whilst Heatseeker does offer some enjoyable moments it's inferior to many games in its genre and is nowhere near as good as Heroes of the Pacific.