by Wencke Schuncken
author awarded score: 65/100

Heatseeker Review
Developer: IR Gurus
Publisher: Codemasters
Format Reviewed PS2
Reviewed by: Wencke

Remember the movie Top Gun? My best friend and I watched it over and over again with respect to the female trainer and of course the cute looking Tom Cruise. It even inspired us to consider a future as an F-16 airplane fighter. It's nice to fantasize about your future, but in reality we never went after our dream. Nevertheless in a safe mode we can enjoy being an airplane pilot with the new PS2 game Heatseeker. Let's check it out if the life of an airplane pilot is as impressive as we thought when we were young.

Let's get to the point; Heatseeker is a highly anticipated, all-action, supercharged, blackout-inducing flight combat game that is set to give the players unprecedented control of the military's finest aircrafts. You'll be put in the middle of the fast and furious world of modern aerial combats and pushing the jets to the limit as you try and keep your enemies in your targeting zone long enough for your missiles get lock and finally blow the invading parties of the screen. Did that compact information blew you away? Let's go into more detail.

Become Mike "Downtown" Hudson, a young rookie, who is assigned to his first task as an International Council pilot. As a freshman you'll be send to a tropical island that unfortunate isn't a holiday resort. It is located in the middle of a violent environment where criminals are dealing in armory and plunder, raid and attack cargo ships, communication stations, airports, airplanes, etc. In the Southern Ocean area is a huge oilfield discovered which a useful source is for many parties. Various countries are going into battle to get their hands on this oil. To make it even worse, a suspicious dictator of the "Oligarchy of Kamcha" state has refused to give the International Council permission to inspect their weapon programs. The overall question in Heatseeker is if you are capable avoiding a worldwide conflict by obeying the International Council commands and bringing your skills in practice.

No time to waste! In the campaign mode you're settled as Mike in an aircraft and in just a couple of seconds you need to maneuver it in various ways to destroy the different kind of targets such as other aircrafts, jeeps, boats and even launched missiles. You need to react quickly and on target but with the "lock-on" functionality it seems quite easy. Aim correctly on your enemy and the aircraft technique automatically locks-on your target. Now all you have to do is to select the right ammunition and push the fire button. Again there's no time to waste and you need to act fast otherwise the lock-on function is disabled and your missile won't hit the destined target. Another feature to "win" time is to use the functionality to boost your aircraft and play with the power of mach. But in this battle there's no time to play around as objectives have to be achieved as soon as possible!

Besides the throttle boost function, I enjoyed the impact cam feature that brings even the most distant of kills right up close as you switch just before the moment of impact to see your target's fiery demise. It's a great way to see the detail that's gone into the modeling of these planes just as they blow up in front of you. The first time the screen switched to the impact cam, I thought it visualized how I messed up my mission by being hit by an enemy and that it was game over. Luckily it was my enemy, but it sure hit me by surprise the first time.

Having trouble with authorities? Rather would make your own decisions? Well, you have to obey the commander's orders. The commander demands to see certain actions, explains what needs to be done and gives hints to complete your missions successfully. Also help can be send and what's even better, you can command and give orders to other squad team mates! Order them to defense / attack certain objects / targets such as defending a civil transport plane or attacking a jeep on its way to destroy your communication tower. Meanwhile you can concentrate on other targets and complete the objectives.

Gifts, bonuses, extras? Sure why not. As an extra motivation, besides the visual cinematic performances with the impact cam, you'll receive a bonus pack after each successfully cleared mission. It includes not only a full overview of your mission achievements (kills, accuracy, hits taken, number of missiles avoided etc.) but also new weapons and new airplanes can get unlocked! The International Council own a total of 8 different types of airplanes, varied from an F-16 Flacon to an F-22 Raptor. Also a top secret super jet becomes available, eventually. More varied and important is the weapon arsenal with a total of 22 weapons! Some are specialized for usage in "air to air" battles and some are excellent for battles on the ground. Thank goodness the technology takes care of the automatically refilling of the weapon's armory but it will take some time. Therefore it is not possible to keep on shooting rockets and bombs as if you're using an automatically machine gun! Shame though …

Heatseeker isn't quite a new concept in the flight game genre but an effective one. The presentation surprised me from the very start. There are absolutely no complains about the design of the airplanes and environments. Also the information flow is very detailed on screen with of course radar, acceleration and condition of the plane to name a few. To me the most important one was the height gage as I often was so focused on targets that were flying low or boats that my plane crashed in the water, oops sorry! No it's much more fun to use the boost function that causes a speed injection and a nearness fading effect. Of course the Impact Cam made the biggest impact on me with missiles making their way towards an enemy's plane, followed by a superb explosion. Unfortunate you don't have the time to cheer long as the number of enemies seems to be endless. As you take a look at the screenshots, you'll notice that it isn't very detailed, but believe me just like the cheering you don't have time to take a closer look at waving trees nor if there are any survivors swimming in the water.

In Battlefield Vietnam (PC) you have the option to turn on the radio while going or being in combat. Unfortunately that's not the case in Heatseeker. Rock music is being played but you hardly pay attention to it as either your commander or team members are talking or that you're so focused on your objectives that music isn't important or noticeable. There aren't a lot of sound effects available, the most recognizable are of course the plane's engines, the "swoosh" sound while boosting and of course the explosions of hit targets. Nothing spectacular but in good range for a flight game.

Regarding the female point of view I guess this is more a guy's game. Not that it is an unacceptable game for a girl but while standing in a gameshop, the chance that a girl would pick up this game is rather small. But of course there are lots of female players out there that just like me and my best friend dreamt of a career as a pilot, and are going to give this game a chance. If you like to be in combat and love to control a fast jet, this game shouldn't be left out. Regarding the female characters there's a strong young woman called Soledad "Angel" Valencia with a strong will. She's your ally and is known as a brave, irreplaceable, stubborn and very focused on assignments.

If you’re dreaming of a career as an fast jet Pilot in the Air Force, then join the Air Force and go after your dreams! If you want to have some virtual fun in the air without taking any real life risks, try heatseeker! It guarantees hours of fun and action that will increase your adrenaline for sure. And if not, you can always produce some mach by pushing the controller handle forward to get an extra boost or try to make a screwdriver in the air. Of course the genre needs to be appealing to you otherwise it will be a little bit dull or categorized as the typical geek game. But nevertheless I liked the game and guess there are more girls like me out there who are going to seek for some heat in air combats with this game.