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Review — The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces

Platform: Wii
Developer: Project Aces
Publisher: XSeed

Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces for the Wii is an Aerial Combat Game developed by the Ace Combat series team Project Aces. These guys have been rockin' the genre and have done it the best on consoles for a long time now. Good thing for the Wii since it has an incredibly small list of flight games in it's library. If your in the market for this type of game then your not going find a better one in price or content than this. The game is only $29.99, so get off your ass and go buy it! Don't let the price fool you into thinking this is a bad game by any means. It's more than worth the price. For those of you that have stayed here to find out more. Let me fill you in some more at what your going to get for your money.

Story: Sky Crawlers is a game based on the Japanese Anime of the same name, by Mamoru Oshii (Director of Ghost in the Shell). It takes place in an alternate history where the world achieves true peace after World War II. The problem is that its in our human nature to fight and create war. In order to keep peace, the world Governments start hiring private companies to stage mock battles and simulate war to satiate the demented masses lust for carnage. Yeah, the human species is awesome.

In the game you play as Lynx a rookie member for Roslock Army and part of the elite fighter pilots called the Cougar Squadron. The Roslock Army has been in a war with another Corporate Army called Lautern. You will be following the progression of their conflict through combat missions filled with dialouge and integrated cut scenese from the actual Anime. Everything is well scripted and the cut scenes compliment the in game graphics. To be honest though there are times where you'll encounter gaps in the story and the game doesn't do a good job letting you know exactly whats happening to the characters or their motives. I personally had to do some more investigation to learn more about the story. I would recommend watching the movie if your interested in more details. But not everything is about story here. Let's talk about the graphics and gameplay.

Graphics: If you've ever played an Ace Combat game you are going to feel right at home with this one. The planes are detailed propeller based Airplanes with some very unique designs. Most of them would technically never get airborne but it's all based on the Anime so the rules don't apply here. Everything from the hanger, mission replays and the user interface feels very similar to previous games and has a good polish to it. It safe to say that this game is a spiritual successor of sorts to the Ace Combat series. The place where the game really does shine however is in the detailed level environments with excellent lighting. When you choose to use the free cam while flying and take a look around its quite impressive. I must note that the games does suffer from some blurry textures; but if your flying that close to the ground, you might be just a little too close. One more thing to note is that the game doesn't play in full widescreen and it has a small black border around the display. Not a deal breaker by anymeans, but I'm not a techno geek wizard so I can't accurately say one hundred percent whats going on with that.

Gamplay: The game consists of 18 missions ranging from Air-to-Air Combat, Recon, Air-to-Surface Combat, and Ground Attack. As your progress through the game your going to fill your hanger up with more planes and get the opportunity to customize parts, weapons and colors of all of them. There is acutaully quite of bit of customization and its up to you to pick the right planes and weapons for each mission before hand. At the end of those missions you even get to save your mission replay watch them in the games replay theartre. For the most part the rest game is going to feel like most other Aerial Combat Games except for some very key gameplay mechanics that make the game stand out from it's bretherin.

Number 1. In spirit of the action packed Anime, the devs added a few mechanics to keep you more focused on the dog fighting and action. I think we've all had this experience playing one of these games where you in the middle of a dog fight chasing a bogey down and you can't quite seem to catch your target. You spend the next five minutes upside down, doing barrel rolls, feeling like your about to vomit; flying aimlessly to no avail. To rectify this the devs have come up with a system called the "Tactical Manuver Command". When approaching a bogey a circle will appear on them in your radar. At this point all you need to do is stay within that circles distance from your target and on screen gauge will appear. This gauge will start to fill and counting up 3. At any point from 1 to 3 you can press the A button and the camera will pan out and you get to watch the actioin unfold epicly as your plane manuvers itself behind the enemy. The trick is the longer you wait to fill this gauge, the closer you'll be to your target and and in prime position to blow is pathetic ass out of the sky and call it a day. On paper it sounds like the game is holding your hand a little too much, but as you play it becomes an added bonus and it kept the action fast paced; not to mention it makes you feel like your a Top Gun.

Number 2 is the control set up. Right off the bat this game does it a little differently than any other flight game I've played. The set up here is to hold Wiimote in your left hand to handle your planes speed by tilting the Wiimote up and down and you hold the nunchuck in your right hand to control the planes movement. It takes some time getting used to and the game starts you out on a default control scheme so that the plane will autobalance itself and won't roll over. I can see why the devs set this as a default; the game has a very high learning curve with coordination of the motion controls and the button layout. Once you switch to expert you will then have full range of the plane with the Nunchuck to steer and roll the plan however you wish. The Nunchuck isn't as responsive as I would have liked, but by the third or fourth mission with expert controls it became my preferred way to play. The other control schemes with the Wiimote setup just weren't as functional for me. I guarantee a lot of people are not going to like the Nunchuck controls due to it's lack of preciseness, but you do have a saving grace and you can switch to using the Classic Controller or Gamecube controller. Personally I stuck it out with the expert control scheme with the Nunchuck for its sense of controlling a flight stick. I know I am in the minority here, I am sure of it.

Good Price
Fun & Satisfying Arcade Gameplay
Solid Presentation
Decent Soundtrack


Story: Sometimes the voice acting can be annoying amidst aerial combat since the dialouge is cheesy in an Anime sort of way. The game doesn't always do a good job of filling you in. They let you know enough so you feel the need to blow up stuff, you just might not know why. Watch the movie.

A little Short: You can always go back and get more custom parts and better mission grades.

Motion controls: A steeper learning curve over all, but in the expert setting you have a lot more control than other setups. Could the Wiimote have provided better accuracy for flying an airplane?

Final Verdict:
Buttered Toast. Sky Crawlers may not get everything exactly right for everyone, but in terms of value and content the game is well worth your time if your into these type of games. A must buy for flight fans. For the rest of us I would still check it out and support more good imports from the Land of the Rising Sun.

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