Gamertell

Subscribe to our content for free: (?)
Get our Daily Email

Gamertell Review: The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces for Wii

by Kirk Hiner on Feb 10, 2010 at 10:46 PM

Title: The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces
Price: $29.99
System: Wii
Release Date: January 12, 2010
Publisher (Developer): Xseed Games (Project Aces)
ESRB Rating: “Teen” for mild language and violence.
Pros: Decent graphics and audio effects, intense (and often unique) combat, customizable controls and cool airplane designs.
Cons: Premise is unbelievable, story mode is short and default controls could be more responsive.
Overall Score: One thumb up, one thumb sideways; 86/100; B; ***1/2 out of 5

Imagine a world without war. Now, imagine the people of that world so used to war and the corporations so reliant on wartime profits, that wars are staged simply as spectacle to keep the cash revenue flowing. Can’t imagine that? That’s because it’s ridiculous. I mean, sure, any way to make money would be embraced by shareholders but would citizens be willing to accept their family members dying for no reason or their churches all the time getting smashed into by downed planes? If that’s the case, then someone needs to stop this merry-go-round, because I would like to get off.

Regardless, that’s the premise of The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces, a flight combat sim from the Project Aces team. It’s based on a series of novels by Hiroshi Mori and an animated film by the acclaimed Mamoru Oshii (of Ghost in the Shell fame). I’ve never read or seen these, so I’m willing to concede that they likely do a better job of setting up the premise than this game did. Still, the story is presented well in quality anime cut-scenes and copious in-battle chatter, and you’re not buying this game for the story, anyway. You’re buying it for the dogfighting action; and up there, Sky Crawlers is absolutely thrilling (as evidenced by the reaction of Maumi Orishina, below).

Kildren, Live On Tour

You play the game as the never heard and never seen but often referred to Lynx. After a couple basic missions that basically serve as training, the “kildren” arrive (no, not a death metal band but young, ageless pilots who are genetically created to fight in this corporate manufactured war), and then the action really kicks in.

The battles are the typical of mix of aerial and ground objectives. Each is presented up front in very cool mission briefings that allow you to survey the battle map at will. You can also select your plane and deck it out as necessary, provided you’ve earned the proper upgrades from your previous missions. Certain planes and weapons are better for certain objectives, but if you’re like me, you’ll find one plane that suits you best and generally stick with it.

The game never bothers with the nonsense of taking off and landing; you begin in the air, and you end in the air, solidifying the pitch-perfect mix of flight sim and arcade aerial combat. A lot of the story and character development is actually revealed through dialogue while fighting battles, and you’ll often hear the warnings and cries for help from your comrades even when there’s nothing you can do about it. As a result, the combat feels quite real and personal.

Promoting Their New Album: Immelmann Turn

As expected, there are multiple methods of control (supporting the WiiMote-Nunchuck combo, a Classic Controller and a GameCube controller). There’s also room for customization, and that may be necessary as the default controls take some getting used to. You hold the WiiMote in your left hand, using it as the throttle. You tilt the Nunchuck in your right to turn the plane and use its buttons to fire. This never felt natural to me. The Nunchuck was quite unresponsive at times, and never allowed for very sharp banks even when it was working as it should. Bump up to the Expert control set and you can compensate for this once you’ve learned them.

Thankfully, you don’t need mad skillz to to survive the wild dogfights. This is because the difficulty isn’t that great on the lower skill levels, and because of unique control features that don’t require you to be a master of the Immelmann turn.

First, various defensive maneuvers are assigned to the Nunchuck control stick. If someone is on your tail, simply select the maneuver you want with the stick, and hit A. Your plane automatically pulls a stunt it can’t do under your own control, and the threat is usually gone.

Likewise, if you’re chasing down an enemy plane, a circle will appear on your targeting display. Keep the enemy in this circle, and your TMC Gauge will start to fill up. If you hit the A button while this gauge is filled past Level 1, your plane will automatically position itself for a better shot. The higher the TMC Gauge when you execute the move, the better positioned it’ll be. This adds a unique and wildly entertaining component to dogfighting, and eases the learning curve for those having trouble getting proper position on the enemy.

It’s Death Metal for the Emo Crowd

War games need to be big and dramatic to be successful and Sky Crawlers delivers there. Although the ground detail is a bit sparse and disjointed between important landmarks and general structures, it’s always pretty (in fact, one of the characters won’t shut up about how pretty it is). The aerial combat is well done graphically and aurally, with dramatic explosions, sound effects and combat animations.

The music is great, too, although without the usual bravado of military games. That’s likely done on purpose, though, as the whole presentation has a softer, more “innocent” feel than your typical macho war game. That’s kind of the point, after all.

Sky Crawlers has no multiplayer option, which is unfortunate, although a second player can join in to man your plane’s secondary weapons. It’s a fun way to get others involved for a little bit, but ultimately not terribly satisfying for them. After the battles, you can watch a video replay and save it if it’s exceptionally good, but I found these to be a mess of odd cuts and weird camera angles. I can’t imagine they’re all that entertaining, anyway. A quick, precompiled highlight reel would be better.

Available Now at Finer Game Retailers

All of this comes together to make an odd little anti-war wargame that also happens to be the best air combat sim currently on the Wii. It has its troubles, none of which should deter you if you’ve been pining for quality dogfighting action since finishing Blazing Angels. There’s not much reason to keep playing it once you’ve completed all the missions, but at only $30, it’s fairly priced.

The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces won’t take over your gaming world but it’s a title you’ll have plenty of fun going back to when you need a break from whatever else you’re playing.

Site [The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces]

Keep up with the latest gaming goodness! – Subscribe to our feed


 

Join the Discussion

Name: *

Email: *

Location (Links to Google Maps):

URL:

Enter Your Comment Below…

* Required fields

Remember my information?

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Submit the word you see below:


Special Features