Lethal Skies: Elite Pilot - Team SW Review
We've come to acknowledge the Ace Combat series as the crème de la crème of the air-combat/flight simulation genre. The last Ace Combat title was an amazing piece of software that grasped the gamer with its fueled story, photo-realistic visuals, and sleek gameplay. Now, take AC4 decrease the strictness of the game, by making it more arcade-like and user-friendly from the get-go. Add a whole bunch of diverse and adrenaline rushing missions, and the answer to your formula is none-other than Lethal Skies. Developed by Asmik Ace Entertainment, Lethal Skies is Sammy's very first air-combat title, which is titled Sidewinder F in the land of the rising sun -- Japan.
From what I witnessed, Lethal Skies is just right in the visuals department. The aircrafts (9 real, 2 imaginary, and 4 secret) are all compromised of great detail. From the glance I had at the game, the aircrafts didn't seem to suffer from any noticeable aliasing issues. They were quite large, and built with a wholesome amount of attention to detail. Believe me, these guys look wonderful! The special effects were very bright, compare to those found in Ace Combat 4. The landscape detail doesn't exactly have an edge over Ace Combat 4. The mountains seem to be more rugged, and the ground doesn't wash out as bad as AC4 when you close it on it, but the structures look a bit weak. The frame rate is super steady, at what seemed to be a very crisp 60. The atmospheric detail such as clouds look pretty as well. In some of the stages you'll be able to swoosh through the clouds, providing more feeling of excitement. Having said all of that, I did find one minor flaw. The levels in the game seemed to have fog covering draw-in, but it was very distant and nothing to worry about. It's obvious that Asmik Ace spent a lot of time getting to know the PS2's hardware, as their first PS2 attempt is a nice looking one.
The game played somewhat similarly to Ace Combat 4, but they're really very different games, so take it for better or worse. The game is built around more action that simulation, and some of the missions are very complex, but cool. One mission will have you shifting in between a canyon in order to keep yourself out of enemy sighting, another will have you re-fill your fuel tank in mid-air by making contact with what seemed to be a 767. The missions will vary from air-to-ground assaults, and air-to-air combat, and will allow gamers to choose from a total of 13 fighters, 4 of which need to be unlocked somehow. You of course have a squadron of your own to back you up, and strategy can at times play a factor. But more or less, you'll be doing most of the damage as you take full control of a fighter and its weaponry. Locking on and switching targets is similarly done in Lethal Skies as it is in AC4. With that in mind, the aircrafts still retain a sense of realism, so don't expect them to be overly exaggerated and completely arcade, it's just controlling them is slightly a simpler task than in Ace Combat 4. The game is solely a single-player experience, and doesn't really have other modes to occupy you with, save for Free Flight and Training. All in all, it's a decent single player experience with some challenge in it, but the game doesn't have as much replay as Ace Combat 4.
Audio wise, Lethal Skies is good news. There's a lot of voice acting in the game, which is mostly during the mission briefings. Other pilots will also communicate with you during battle, but their voices are purposely mumbled and static sounding - there are subtitles though, so no need to worry. The music isn't exactly spectacular. It falls somewhere between decent and mediocre. It's hardly painful, but it's hardly inspired or good. That said, the audio as a total package is just around average. Nothing in this category will really bother you.
Controls are a breeze for the most part, but they do feel somewhat better than AC4's. As you aim at a moving enemy, there's a target that shows the point where you should shoot your bullets at in order to perfectly time a hit on the moving enemy. I found that addition quite useful, as it saved me a good deal of missiles that I used later when I had to fry bigger fish. Every part of the controller is used for something. I love it when games put the DS2 to full use, with sensitivity and all, just like Lethal Skies.
In the end, while it doesn't quite live up to Ace Combat 4, Lethal Skies is still a pretty good flight action title that should occupy those who enjoyed AC4, and keep them happy as well. Lethal Skies does have flaws, such as a lack of substantial replay value. But other than that, the game plays well, and looks nice too. Asmik Ace did a commendable job with the visuals, and especially the air crafts. If you're looking for a flight sim that will satisfy you as much as AC4 did, I'd suggest looking elsewhere or renting first. While it's a good game, Lethal Skies doesn't come close to Ace Combat 4.
6/21/2002 Arnold Katayev