Previews

Heatseeker

We bet that you can't wait to start working that nunchuk into a frenzy with some airborne superheroism

When a rogue state threatens the free world, the only sensible solution is to bomb some sense into it. And as the peace-keeping pilot of a Mach 2 war machine, it's your job to present naughty Mr Terrorist Dictator with a choice between civilisation (on our terms) or Stone Age. A dirty job, for sure, but when presented as nicely as it is in Heatseeker, one that we're certain most Wii owners won't mind undertaking.

We recently got our hands on a version of the game, and were pleasantly surprised to find a control system perfectly suited to the console. It uses the nunchuk as a virtual joystick by default, which is something we'd been a little concerned about after the slight stickiness of the controls in Wii Sports Boxing, but it works a treat.

Mind control
The nunchuk responds to the slightest movement of your left hand, with the analogue stick used to adjust the throttle. It's as easy to pull aerobatic manoeuvres as it is to return the plane to level flight, and after just a little practice we were blasting down enemy fighters with fluid gestures and great accuracy. Few other games use the motion-sensing capability of the nunchuk to such precise effect.

In this configuration the remote is used to select weapons and cycle between targets. You can switch the functions of the remote and nunchuk if you like, or even swoop the remote like a toy aeroplane, but it seems to work best with the original setting. The developers are still experimenting with other configurations, so expect to see a few more in the finished game.

While the nifty control technology ticks away in the background, unseen but always appreciated, the game churns out vast numbers of enemy aircraft and awards you a practically unlimited amount of missiles to blow them from the sky with.

Hovering your targeting cursor over a target for a couple of seconds, or until you close within 1,000 metres of it, earns a temporary lock-on. You can then unleash a barrage of firepower and, unless the enemy is adept at evasive action, you'll almost always manage to score a hit.

Up close
In most combat flight games, all you ever see is a trail of smoke as your victim spirals towards the ground. Heatseeker spices things up by offering an 'impact camera', which follows the missile and shows the enemy's final moments from a variety of angles.

It automatically kicks in for significant hits, or you can activate it manually if you just want to enjoy scenes of random planes being blown apart. Although you're jolted away from the controls while this happens, it doesn't last too long and definitely adds to the atmosphere, much like Burnout 3's takedown camera.

Looking hot
The explosions and the lovingly detailed aircraft are the only really impressive visual details, since the ground features are a bit sparse. However, it moves so fast you'll barely have time to register the odd low-res texture, and there's always loads of stuff going on - dogfights, missiles, flares, smoke trails and so on.

Points are awarded for notching up successive kills, and despite the freedom to fly anywhere - 360 freedom in full effect - it often plays like a modern version of Sega's old Afterburner coin-op. Which is a good thing, in our book.

We saw a couple of ground-based enemies, thanks to a handy level-skip option, including laser tanks - tanks with lasers on top on them. Excellent. There are also military complexes to destroy, featuring weak points that must be attacked in the correct order. Some of them span entire islands, while others are sinister fortresses atop barren parts of the archipelago where the game takes place.

Other missions involve protecting friendly bombers and helping wingmen out of sticky situations. Fortunately the gung-ho plot takes a back seat to the relentless action.

With realistic flight dynamics kept to a minimum (although you can put it into an Expert Mode to enable more difficult manoeuvres) it's shaping up to be a slick, accessible little blaster on Wii.

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