previews\ Jun 19, 2003 at 8:00 pm

Freaky Flyers - PS2 - Preview 2

Meet Myrna Bookbottom, mild-mannered librarian, cat lady and one who is extremely polite. She seems as refined as Waterford Crystal, and is quite reserved. But you don’t want to see her angry. You see, Myrna has a dark side that is just waiting to emerge, a mean, gun-toting, adventurous, high-flying side affectionately called Margaret Basher.

Yes, it is Freaky Flyers, the over-the-top plane race game that has all the aplomb of a Saturday morning cartoon, coupled with arcade racing action, a great cast of characters and joyful animation.

This is clearly a game that does not take itself seriously, and in the process gives players a fun-filled ride through treacherous, obstacle-laden courses.

Freaky Flyers, from Midway, is slated for release later this summer on the GameCube, PlayStation 2 and Xbox console systems. GameZone was invited along for the ride on a beta of the PS2 format, and willingly strapped into the cockpit of these barely serviceable aircraft.

What was encountered was an hilarious fun-filled ride through a variety of game options. If you want a game that is clever, entertaining and looks great, then you’ve come to the right place. Freaky Flyers plants tongue firmly in cheek, and delivers on a variety of elements.

Game features include interactive worlds; an actual storyline that plays off the individual characters in the game - of which there are 13, each with an individual array of jokes; stunt flying through obstacle-ripe courses; numerous game play options, including adventure, race, dog fights, and mini-games; multiplayer gaming, which is basically head-to-head competition; a terrific soundtrack; and great cutscenes.

Much of the game plays out like an arcade action game. You can fly through the courses in the race, shooting down the opposition, picking up power-ups along the way, and hitting targets, or you can take on mini-game, which may involve protecting your fort from a host of banditos bent on destroying it. In the latter, you need to stop the banditos from getting to your fort, while scouring the countryside for the forts that spawn them and dodging gun emplacements.

The control elements have been kept relatively simple and the learning curve on this game should be 6-10 minutes at most. The game is viewed from the third-person perspective and you use the control to guide and fight with your flyer character (who is often well oversized for the contraption they call a plane).

The soundtrack is amazing on its own. The narration has that big, over-the-top cartoon sound, and special effects, from the sound of planes zooming, guns blazing or the competition complaining is absolutely wonderful. The musical score is clever, witty and downright funny. The music often pokes fun at itself, at its musical style, but is totally appropriate to the mood and style of the game.

The look of Freaky Flyers is absolutely wonderful. This is a lush three-dimensional world that appropriately contains cartoonish animation that is flawless. From planes flaming out, to cascading or falling elements, Freaky Flyers is definitely a treat for the eyes.

There were a few stumbles, but this was a beta build, and while some cutscenes stuttered, this is certain to be eradicated in the final release.

Freaky Flyers is great fun. This is a game that is joyful, over-the-top, and a laugh-fest. If you can’t smile when playing this game, someone needs to take that controller out of your hands and check you into a clinic to have your laugh muscles examined. The game plays well, looks superb, sounds amazing and should be a must-have for gamers who enjoy whimsical arcade-style games.

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