North America


by Jonathan Metts - March 15, 2007, 5:59 pm PDT
Total comments: 12

Maverick, Goose, and Iceman would approve.

Heatseeker is an arcade-style aerial combat game full of supersonic jets, laser-guided missiles, and huge explosions. Although it's in development for Wii, PS2, and PSP, Nintendo's Wii is, for once, the lead platform of those three. The motion-based controls are quite interesting, as you use the nunchuk like the flight stick of a fighter plane. Simply tilting the attachment to either side will bank or roll the plane, while tilting it forward or back controls the pitch. The joystick acts as your throttle. The remote seems to be used mainly as a trigger for your various weapons.

Although the game is set in the near future, most of the 30+ playable fighters in Heatseeker are presently deployed or in advanced development. You can fly the F-15 Eagle, the F-22 Raptor, the Joint Strike Fighter, the Mig-29 Fulcrum, or even the F-117A Stealth Fighter. Each one has been carefully modeled down to the individual control surfaces.

You usually play the game from a perspective set behind one of these planes, but the camera moves around quite a bit during combat. See, the developers at IR Gurus in Australia realized that dogfighting games tend to lack excitement because you usually just lock onto a far-off speck and wait for it to disappear upon impact with one of your projectiles. Heatseeker remedies this problem by cutting away to enemy targets just as your weapons arrive on the scene, so you get a close-up, slow-motion view of the explosion in all its smoking glory. You can even watch a missile's entire flight path from your own plane to the enemy fighter, with the camera positioned right behind the missile. The goal of this "Impact Cam" feature is to bring visceral excitement back into aerial combat games.

Also adding to the thrill is your supply of unlimited ammo for all weapons – clearly, the game is more about action than realism. But you won't just be blowing up planes the whole time. The game also has missions that require you to fly under radar, collect reconnaissance, and bomb ground installations. What the game doesn't have, unfortunately, is a multiplayer mode, which is only offered in the PSP version. Nevertheless, Heatseeker will definitely be the first game of its kind on Wii when it ships in spring 2007. Until then, you can see it in action at the Codemasters official game website; click on the "Game Intel" tab for videos.


Chode2234March 15, 2007

This looks cool, but I'm still waiting for ace combat.

oohhboyHong Hang Ho, Staff AlumnusMarch 15, 2007

I hope they make the combat hard. As in they shoot back. The Ace Combat games, while pretty, with it's losse physics, the other guys didn't shoot back remotely enough. Number one killer in those games is pilot error, mostly by pulling a S-split too close to the ground and eatting building. Getting shot down just doesn't happen. I want wingmen I can name Ice and Deadmeat.

You guys going to review this?

Yeah, I'm signed up for the review.

Smash_BrotherMarch 15, 2007

Why did they offer multiplayer for the one system you'll likely never find another person who owns, let alone ALSO bought the same game?

Maybe because you don't have to deal with split screen on a portable?

TMWMarch 15, 2007

I find the amount of games still being developed for the PS2 absolutely hilarious.

UltimatePartyBearMarch 15, 2007

From what I've seen, the real problem with simulated dogfighting is the inability (or at least difficulty) to look around. Real life dogfighting is all about position. You have to know the enemy's position, your wingman's position, and how your position relates to them. Are you in a position of advantage, or are you about to be blown away? Can your wingman cover you if you go for the kill, or is he in trouble himself? In real life, if the enemy was in a specific spot behind you, coming in at a certain angle, your next move could determine which of you would be shot down. In a video game, you can't know exactly where he is, so he can't be made as dangerous as he really should be. It would be too punishing for the player to be shot down because he made a single fatal mistake without enough information.

The Wii remote (and Nunchuk) presents the best solution to the problem yet. Your flight control is on one hand, while your other is completely free to be used to look around, and it's holding one of the best tools for the job ever made. It would be sort of like using a flightstick and mouse at the same time on a PC, only not at all awkward.

I know this game isn't about realism. The control scheme just made me think of this.

oohhboyHong Hang Ho, Staff AlumnusMarch 16, 2007

In Tie fighter (I know, I know), they partially solved that problem by giving you the pretty good threat detector. 3 little squares above your retical.

First one lights up when another fighter is firing on you with their blasters. Not that useful in a large melee as it is almost always lit up. But pretty good in smaller ones as it warns you when some one is trying to get the jump on you.

The second lights up when your get shot at / painted by anything that is not a fighter class/size. Capital ships, corvetts etc.

The third and most useful is the missile detector. Blinks yellow when another fighter has switched to missiles and is attemping to lock on. Goes red when they can fire. if there is a launch, the computer asks whether to target missile. Very useful from Tie fighter onwards since you can shoot down missiles/rockets in flight.

The Ace combat system of combat is silly as. As long as you had him painted, you only needed to point the nose their way and you had a lock. Of course to compensate for that the missiles couldn't home in worth a crap. You had to be in about the right position, meaning anything less than their 6 was a waste and they had to be flying almost level. In the later levels, the planes move fast enough that the effective range of the missiles were shorter than described due to the fact that you can almost out speed them and therefore moved out of their range.

Forget get about head on passes unless you are right on the nose so you ended up using the missiles like rockets. Also gunplay. What gunplay.

Never the less, it is still pretty fun, in a funny sort of way since you were particaly invincible because everybody were too stupid to hit you.

EntroperMarch 16, 2007

BTW, I think you meant F-16 Falcon. The F-15 is the Eagle.

Actually, looking at the screenshots, it looks like the Eagle is the one in the game.

UltimatePartyBearMarch 16, 2007

As long as we're correcting things, it should be F-117A, not F-177A.

KDR_11kMarch 16, 2007

Freespace had only two indicators, targetting and fired (the latter beeping faster the closer the missile is). However it had a circle around the reticle that had red arrows for every enemy and yellow arrows for missiles aimed at you. The arrows would point at the thing they represent (however only their angle towards the reticle as well as whether they are inside or outside the circle) and have a line that represents the distance to you. Unless it's a bomb your only defense is to dodge like mad and use flares, though.

The flight sims I played had you lock pretty much immediately when the enemy got into your cone of fire.

Argh, that's embarrassing. The F-15 was my mistake, and I should have checked to be sure. The F-117A is merely a typo. Thanks for pointing them out.

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Heatseeker Box Art

Genre Action
Developer IR Gurus

Worldwide Releases

na: Heatseeker
Release May 01, 2007
eu: Heatseeker
Release Mar 30, 2007
aus: Heatseeker
Release Apr 13, 2007
RatingParental Guidance

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