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Heatseeker First Look

We check out a work-in-progress version of IR Gurus' upcoming flight combat game.


Earlier this month, during a meeting with Codemasters, we were afforded our first look at the Wii version of Heatseeker. Also in development for the PlayStation 2 and the PlayStation Portable, Heatseeker is an action-oriented flight combat game from the same studio responsible for 2005's Heroes of the Pacific. The PS2 and Wii versions of Heatseeker will purportedly be almost identical, although the latter is made more interesting by its support of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk controller.

While Heroes of the Pacific was set during World War II, Heatseeker will task you with combating modern-day terrorists from the controls of more than 20 different planes, including some of the latest fifth-generation fighters. The F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II planes that we saw during our demo were nicely detailed, and in keeping with Heatseeker's arcade-style gameplay, both had an unlimited supply of ammo. In addition to a machine gun, each plane will be able to carry two different types of missiles or bombs, and you'll get to choose which heavy weapons you go into battle with according to the type of mission that you're about to attempt.

Although dogfighting will obviously play a large part in the game, your mission objectives in Heatseeker will include escorting friendly craft, protecting structures, and, of course, destroying enemy units and other targets. Adding further variety to certain missions will be the addition of two wingmen for you to command, the need to identify targets before being given permission to engage them, and operational ceilings that prevent you from flying your chosen fighter into space or from popping up on enemy radar. Many of the missions in Heatseeker will task you with completing multiple objectives, so after defending a runway or an aircraft carrier from enemy bombers, for example, you might then be required to escort the planes that take off from it to their objective.

Heatseeker's mission objectives promise to be quite varied.
Heatseeker's mission objectives promise to be quite varied.

The Wii version of Heatseeker will support the same conventional control setup that's used on the PS2, but it's certainly a game that appears to lend itself to the Wii's unique motion-sensitive controllers. There are two different Wii-exclusive control setups available, letting you choose which part of the Wii's unique two-piece controller you use to fly your plane. The most popular control option during our demo was undoubtedly the one that will let you tilt the Nunchuk controller to steer your plane while using its analog stick to control the throttle, brake, and roll. The Wii Remote's directional pad is used to switch weapons, the A button is used to switch between active targets, and the trigger buttons on the Wii Remote and the Nunchuk are used to fire missiles and machine guns, respectively. The second motion-sensitive controls option works in much the same way, except that the Wii Remote is used to move an icon around the screen that your plane will always point toward.

Although the Wii version of Heatseeker that we were looking at was clearly still quite early (as evidenced by onscreen instructions telling us how to play using PS2 controls), it already looks quite impressive. The clouds that float around many of the environments look convincing, and the explosions of enemy fighters that you'll occasionally get to enjoy from the perspective of an "impact cam" mounted on a missile's nose are quite spectacular.

Both the PS2 and Wii versions of Heatseeker will support only solo play, but the PSP game will feature wireless competitive gameplay modes for up to four players. All three versions of Heatseeker are currently scheduled for release in March. We look forward to bringing you more information on the game as soon as it becomes available.

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