reviews\ Sep 8, 2003 at 8:00 pm

Lethal Skies II - PS2 - Review

"The city is under attack! Evacuate everyone."

At times like these, there is only one thing to do, launch the best and last of the defending jet fighters to clear the skies of an enemy bomber squad.

Sammy Studios and Asmik Ace have launched their own defense over the North American skies with the PlayStation2 release of Lethal Skies II.

The game is a mission-driven arcade aerial combat model, featuring sterling graphical elements and easy-to-use controls. There are 20 missions in the campaign mode, and players will find themselves dodging not only enemy weapons but some land structures as well.

It is the year 20xx and an environmental disaster has left the world with little remaining land areas. But what is left is worth fighting for. Two main factions were standing toe-to-toe, scrapping for land in a year-long war, when an incident in Newfoundland introduced a new threat. Two B-2 bombers are spotting, heading for the city with an escort of fighters. Only one plane stands ready on the tarmac, set for take-off. Guess who?

Your initial job is to join the planes already on patrol in repelling this threat.

"Are they serious about an all-out war?!?"

They most certainly are serious. Using your radar and a simple control system, you power your way through the leaden skies, over the city skylight and engage this threat. The HUD (heads-up display) is your best friend. There is a tiny radar screen on the bottom left which will help direct you to the enemy. From that point on, it’s all about flight and fight.

While Lethal Skies II may not be as satisfying in the dogfight format as Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge, what this game does offer is amazing graphical elements. Not only are the planes incredible to look at, but the fleeting glimpses of the land below as you zoom low in pursuit or to lose that missile trying to crawl up you thrusters is tremendous.

Couple all that with a control system that has been relegated to its basics and an AI that seems to adjust to fit the abilities of the players and you have a great-looking product that plays well.

But the game is not without some failings. While the music is driving, it can be annoying after 20 minutes. And there is the ‘death scream’ that sounds like it came right out of a Saturday morning cartoon. There is some radio chatter that goes from realistic triumphant yells to incredulous, superficial comments intended to drive the story. And the fireball of an exploding plane is somewhat anticlimactic. It almost looks as though one effect was created for the destruction of enemy planes. Not to worry though, you can die in a couple of impressive ways.

The game is a step-up from its predecessor. Not only are the planes detailed, but there are 19 total to choose from. The camera is fully rotatable (and tied to the right thumbstick) to allow you to see the action from a variety of angles. Word or warning though, this game happens are a very fast pace and if you spend all your time glancing around, you will likely be dead very quickly. The game also features an all-new two-player mode, and fully customizable weapon loads. If you are good enough, you can unlock missions and fly as the enemy.

Lethal Skies II is a remarkable leap forward from the original title. Not only that, this is a game that will provide newbies to flight sims an incredible intro to the genre. This game is easy to play and full of eye candy. It may not have the most original of story lines, and some of the sound may be annoying, but this game does have challenge, and is fun to play.

This game is rated Teen

Gameplay: 8.4
The control elements are simple and the mapboards are detailed. Once a mission is underway, it is intense and fast-paced. You don’t have to wait long for something to happen in this game.

Graphics: 8.7
The explosion of enemy plans may be redundant, but the plane models, the environments and the overall look of this game is terrific. Jet streams off the wingtips, the vapor trail as a missile leaves the rail, even the distortion of the thruster engaged makes for a well-designed feast for the eyes.

Sound: 6.8
The jet sounds are solid, but the chatter over the radio is inconsistent, from the tinny sound to overlays of clear speech that is supposed to drive the plot. The music has a rock beat and is fine for a time, but can get old.

Difficulty: Medium
This game does a great job of suiting itself to the players’ abilities. There are three difficulty settings and gamers of any skill level will likely find challenge here.

Concept: 8
The storyline is old hat, but this game has been designed to allow players to jump right in and play without having to weed through a flight manual or learn a complex set of fight controls.

Multiplayer: 7.8
Two players can play in split-screen or using the iLink system. Actually this is not bad, but splitting the screen is rather inconvenient. This game needs full screen to react and enjoy all that is offered.

Overall: 8.4
Sammy Studios and Asmick Ace have done a remarkable job in creating a fast-paced aerial combat game that is easy to jump into and play, and looks amazing to boot. The script and missions are not all that original, but you don’t have to wait long for the action to commence. You can turn the sound down low, and still enjoy this game. Lethal Skies II is graphically rich, challenging game that will please flight sim fans, as well as provide a great introduction to newcomers to the genre.


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