The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces – WII – Preview

Well, now
here’s a game where the Wii motion controls make a whole lot of sense!

XSEED’s The
Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces is about the aerial combat. Sure, there are some
cartoon-ish cutscenes that lay the foundations of a story, but these are
fillers until you get up in the air, unlock new planes, take on increasing more
challenging missions and fly through the unfriendly skies over a world that
bears some similarities to Earth as we know it.

Throw out
the concepts of country against country; this is aerial warfare that pits
corporation against corporation. Ok, the story is somewhat convoluted, and the
cutscenes that string it together are strictly Saturday morning fare, but what
Sky Crawlers brings to the forefront is a nunchuk-driven motion-controlled
flight mechanic that is challenging, frustrating, but makes a lot of sense.

Hold the Wii
nunchuk in the strong hand (why? because the remote is merely an extension of
the nunchuk controls and merely gets you through menu items; it is the nunchuk
and not the remote that controls the flight mechanics) and then follow the
motions intuitively to get your plan to react. Bank left? Then tilt the nunchuk
left. Want to climb? Tilt back. It’s tight and intuitive.



The
complexities creep in when you have to worry about stalls, about losing sight of
the horizon and coming out of a turn only to see the ground saying hello in a
decidedly unfriendly and explosive way. Of course, the enemies you are sent out
to hunt and destroy are not merely going to sit there and wait for you to unload
your guns into their tails. Nope, they are in constant motion as well, evading
and returning fire. You can lock a target and then follow on conical direction
device to find out where they are. The map is usable as well, but as this is a
full-on three-dimensional environment, that red target seen on the map may well
be beneath the controlled plane, or above it.

Sky
Crawlers, based on a novel series by Hiroshi Mori, takes place in an alternate
Earth timeline, thus there is familiarity to the planes, and the combat
scenarios almost seem to be lifted out of World War II. Escort missions, seek
and destroy are some of the mission types, and upon completion, missions are
rated and new planes and load-outs can be unlocked.

The first
plane flown is a bit on the clunky side (which can lead to some frustrations
when trying to turn tight to pick up a target that has just flown past and place
some bullets into the fuselage), but that upgrades to a new hangar option after
the second mission.

While the
cutscenes are stock cartoon animation, and the menu mission chats are a bit
simpler, the actual combat settings are rather well done in terms of planes,
explosions and environments. The radio chatter has been done before and sometime
pertains to the action on screen and sometimes it does not.

The Sky
Crawlers is set to release January 5, 2010 on the Wii, and, based on the preview
build, is a solid flight simulator. The aerial combat can be tricky at times,
and a touch frustrating, but accomplishing the mission tasks definitely delivers
a sense of achievement.