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Thread: Heatseeker - 1st hour play

  1. #1
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    Heatseeker - 1st hour play

    I've been waiting for Heatseeker since I first heard about it. It's the kind of game that I like having grown up around arcades in the 80's & 90's. Afterburner is probably the closest game I expect Heatseeker to replicate so a quick look back at that game on Mame was the order of play this evening.

    Did you know there are 5 versions of Afterburner?

    Afterburner (1987)
    Afterburner II (1987)
    G-Loc (1990)
    Strike Fighter (1991)
    Afterburner Climax (2006)

    The first 4 use Sega sprite scaling and all look similar. Lots of smoke, missiles and plenty of big explosions. I've yet to see the latest one so cannot comment on it's graphics or gameplay.

    Afterburner is quite simply a case of shoot and missile as many planes as possible whilst dodging the missiles fired at you. As the planes come in waves thick and fast, the whole game becomes rather frantic if not a little repetitive. Don't expect any kind of aircraft flight envelopes here; just fly, shoot and enjoy.

    Moving onto Heatseeker...

    I've only played this for an hour on Rookie level as it took me that long to get to level 2 to try a different aircraft and see if the gameplay changes. The game may improve or get worse after these levels. I'll let you know in a further posting.

    Firstly the advertised "Impact Cam". Not a good idea for two reasons.

    Firstly it breaks the gameplay as the screens moves to showing you the missile exploding and then giving you back control of your aircraft and releasing teh game from a kind of pause mode. Ok, so Impact Cam only activates if you hold down the missile fire button. Well not for me it doesn't. I try to use short jabs of the button to fire my missiles and some would randomly initiate the Impact Cam so you then have to wait for the cam to finish so you can continue creaming the enemy. If the enemy are too close the cam has no time to draw the screen before the missile has hit and killed the enemy which causes the screen to flash to CAM and straight back again and un-pause your flight.

    Secondly, my Wii struggles to draw a smooth image and play audio without jittering when the Impact Cam kicks in. This is more anoying than the cam itself as the screen jerks around trying to keep a good framerate.

    Thankfully you can turn Impact Cam off in Video Options so what is a major mess and would make me give the game right back is neatly removed from the game. A well recommended option.

    That's all I have to gripe about so moving on...

    Effects, Speech and Music are indivually controlled on volume levels. Speech is used well and does follow a linear storyline. It's clear and so far performs well. Effects sound good and the music is not far from the old rock I sometimes play in the car. No cause for complaints here.

    Video Graphics:
    Is smooth when the Impact Cam is not used. In fact I'm impressed with the images and wish I had 480p and widescreen to apreciate the eye candy in this game. You look at the aircraft flying over the scenery and I cannot help thinking "How awesome would this look in 1080p?"

    Cut Scenes:
    Bearing in mind that I'm only on level 2, they are excellent. Very impressed with the video in the TV braodcast as I didn't realise the Wii could handle that. The scenes give you enough information for the level and further smaller cut scenes are shown at the ends of smaller missions in each level to keep the story on the right track.

    You can select Arcade or Pro. As I had read that Pro was the one to use that's what I picked. Yep it's good. Responsive and just like flying with a joystick in a PC flight sim. Use the Nunchuk to fire canon and throttle control. The Wiimote does the rest. You will need to spend 5 minutes with the manual to work out what each button does as every button is used.

    Oh yes! It's Afterburner However more importantly it has true flight sim properties. You can crash so you must watch your altitude and thankfully your onboard computer will warn you as you have no time to look at the altimeter numbers. Better still, overflying a target is just a case of roll left and haul back on the stick to bring you around for another run. Or in my case completely fly in circles around my target. It's going to need practise but I'm enjoying this practise.

    It's simple flight control but not dumb control like Afterburner was. I need not worry about flaps, fuel, gear or rudder. This makes my gameplay much more enjoyable. I just have to worry about hiting my target and flying fast enough to get to the enemy before they destroy what i'm protecting.

    There's a wide range of weapons to use in the game although in the first two levels you only get to use sidewinder missiles, canon and unguided bombs. Unlike a true sim, these weapons seem to be unlimited. For instance my aircraft kill in Level 1 was 17 on missile and 5 on canon but I know of no aircraft that carries 17 sidewinders. To me this is great. I just want to have a good time and a blast.

    Bearing in mind that Rookie level is supposed to be easy, I guess I've got a lot of learning to do. Level 1 is all canon and missiles but Level 2 brings in unguided bombs. These are a lot harder hence the reason I haven't progressed much further. I have a problem where I am diving at the enemy releasing my bomb and planting my aircraft in the road as well. You really do have to watch your height.

    Aircraft Envelope:
    Like motorcars, each aircraft has their individual characteristics. On Level 1 it looks like you are flying a F15 Eagle. It's fast but slow to turn which makes it ideal to pick up and learn the controls. By the end of the level you are pooting along whilst slowly guiding your crosshair onto the enemy aircraft with beautiful precision just to blow it away with your canon.

    Switch to level 2 in a T45 Goshawk and OMG! your in a Ferrari and over compensating on everything. Drop a bomb on the enemy? I'm lucky to hit the island let alone a small jeep. I just cannot fly in a straight level line. It probaly looks like a pilot having an epilectic fit.

    This is fantastic. With 8 aircraft to fly in the game, I'm going to have to learn each one and remember how it handles. With 20 weapons to choose from, my job just got harder.

    In conclusion:
    It's good! It's Afterburner with depth. It's a flight sim with the boring bits removed. Yes the aircraft/boats attack in large numbers and waves but at least I am in the thick of it. It's certainly not dumb repetition. You do need to know what direction you are flying in. Am I high enough, close enough for my weapon of choice or am I even using the right weapon?

    This is on an hour of play so I'm expecting even better to come. I'll let you know. Just remember to turn off the useless Impact Cam.

  2. #2
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    Jul 2006
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    So I finally progressed to Level 3.

    The more agile T45 Goshawk aircraft is flying a little more stable and I'm certainly learning to get those bombs to hit what I aim at. In fact, I approach the enemy ship in a high level bombing run, release the two bombs and switch to air to ground missiles and canon to finish up on the very same run.

    There's something quite satisfying about walking your canon fire onto the ship. It's very well animated.

    Moving back to audio, I have turned off the music as it just became an annoying guitar screech in the background that repeats all too often. Voiceover subtitles are also off too. There's enough going on the screen without subtitles and your commander shouts at you often enough that you will not forget your objective.

    View modes. You can fly the aircraft from 1 of 3 viewpoints. In the cockpit, "behind the aircraft close" and "behind the aircraft far". For me I have to sit in the cockpit otherwise I fly like a brick. Try them out, it helped me once I read the manual and found you could change the views as the default is "behind the aircraft close".

    So I've had a couple more hours play but only on level 3 on Rookie. Some of you may think that is slow progress but there is a reason for this which I will come to in a moment.

    The levels are split into checkpoints so if you crash, die or decide to restart a section you can start from the last saved checkpoint. These checkpoints are only available during your current game. Restarting the Wii will start you at the begining of the level. That's not a bad thing you just have to complete the entire level before going to bed.

    Codemaster I have a problem....The game crashes!

    Yep, it has crashed twice in two days and both times after a 20 minute stint of almost completing level 3. The game hangs. It just freezes and the only way to get out is to power off your Wii.

    I hope this is level 3 only as I really like this game. Somehow I suspect it isn't. I'm gobsmacked. My last consoles were a SNES and NeoGeo. They don't crash. Why should you?

    If I can get my two year old off the console this evening (she likes planes), I'll have another bash and see what happens.


  3. #3
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    The crashing has stopped. I switched my Wii into 60Hz mode and the game no longers hangs.

    Impact Camera update. Turning off Impact Cam in the Options menu stops the console from switching to Impact Cam when it feels like it. You can still use Impact Cam in the game when you want to just by holding down the fire button. I tend to use the this when I only have one enemy left or just messing around.

    Levels are varied. I've had to identify ships and aircraft by overflying them and destroy aircraft hangers built into the side of mountains. These hangers are tough nuts to crack and need quite a few bombs thrown through the entrance.

    Using the afterburner to fly at low level between mountian tops and skimming the jungle canopy is excellent. The sense of speed is amazing. Can't hit the target at this speed though.

    Shooting helicopters is a scream. They tend to attack the islands in waves of 6 so just aim at the first and walk your canon accross all of them. 6 flaming wrecks in seconds. Not much armour on them at all.

    As I have said before, it is like Afterburner but you do need to think about the order you approach the missions. Hitting the wrong enemy will mean that the other side of your island is attacked and you lose the civilians you were supposed to protect. Getting the bonus unlocks are tricky as they tend to be at the wrong end of the map from where you need to be.

    I like it and I'm liking it more now that I've a few more aircraft and weapons to pick from for my missions.

  4. #4
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    May 2006
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    Good review. It looks like a good arcadey sort of game. I've never been a big fan of flying games but might rent this or something in the future when i've got my Wii.

  5. #5
    No more Mr Nice Guy. Nick's Avatar
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    Jul 2003
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    Seems we think along the same lines!

    Only thing is, the Wii can't do any higher res than the standard 480 or whatever it is... trust me on this, I'm playing it on a massive 42" HD capable panel... which is why I think the graphics are a bit of a let down. That said, the game moves wonderfully fast and stays smooth no matter what is going on on the screen.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dareos View Post
    "OH OOOOHH oOOHHHHHHHOOHHHHHHH FILL ME WITH YOUR.... eeww not the stuff from the lab"

  6. #6
    Banhammer in peace PeterB kalniel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    Only thing is, the Wii can't do any higher res than the standard 480 or whatever it is... trust me on this,
    Right, but you can use either 480i or 480p, the latter looks much better. But neither are really up to a 42"...

  7. #7
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    Did you experience any game crashing as I am still unable to play this when my Wii is in 50Hz mode.

    I want the wide screen for the wider image and the slightly higher quality component cable connection. To be honest i don't see going any larger than 37" in my small house.

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