Version tested: Wii
Codemasters' Heatseeker is a game that strongly emphasises the bipolar Jekyll and Hyde attributes of many Wii titles. At its most basic level, it's an Ace Combat-style arcade flying game that boasts a fun, innovative control system that makes the most of the Wiimote motion sensors. However, as is the case with many Wii titles it looks like an absolute dog's dinner - with excessively basic graphics the PS2 would be embarrassed in rendering.
As is usual with the Ace Combat formula, gameplay boils down to blowing things up in the air, bombing things at ground (or sea) level and defending things against a combination of the things you'd otherwise be shooting down or bombing anyway. Helping to add some degree of variety to the proceedings is the range of aircraft at your disposal; the gamut of modern fighter aircraft are at your disposal as you progress through the game, including F-15s, F-16s, MiGs, Blackhawks and F/A-18s. Each aircraft feels like a different beast when you're behind the stick and takes a little time to master, helping to add an element of challenge to each of the 18 levels.
The game's core strength is in its utilisation of the Wiimote. Two different control methods are on offer, based around the notion of the fighter's joystick being emulated by either tilting the remote itself or the nunchuk. While the control system (particularly the remote variation) initially feels very unintuitive, you adjust quickly and aside from feeling fresh and different, there are a number of nice touches. In particular the ability to use the tilt controls to accurately target cannon fire works beautifully. However, some of the fingertip gymnastics required in utilising the wingman options are stupidly hard - for example, holding down A and at the same time using the d-pad while still flying the plane - and pretty much impossible unless you have three hands.
Heatseeker's generally fun to play, but it's just a real shame it's so graphically poor. Even with its basic graphics, there's no 480p support which serves to make it look even uglier on LCD displays. Combine this ruthless beating with the ugly stick with the essential lack of variety inherent in these arcade air combat games and you have a title only really worth considering once it's in the bargain bins.
5 / 10
The Godfather: Black Hand Edition
EA's stab at the sandbox genre attracted generally positive reviews in its current gen and Xbox 360 incarnations (check out Kristan's review for the full low-down), but for all of its positive qualities, the Godfather is a mere enforcer when compared to the full Don-level experience offered by the likes of the Grand Theft Auto games and, latterly, Crackdown.
While most of the gameplay flaws inherent in the previous versions are still there in this new version, there are a number of factors that may make this far more appealing to the average Wii owner. For a start, the Black Hand edition has all of the enhancements of the new PS3 "Don Edition" - such as an additional 30 story mode missions, additional cars, weapons, and mob tactics. Also of note is an intelligently-conceived Wiimote control method that enhances an already decent combat system and improves on it. Wii Sports-style boxing techniques are the centrepiece of hand-to-hand combat (though the throttling is fun too) while an IR-based free targeting solution adds greatly to the gunplay - useful for headshots, kneecappings and disarming enemies.
Graphically there's little here that would trouble the PlayStation 2, and the game's cityscapes are plagued with polygon-tearing and oodles of pop-up most noticeable while driving. However, most of the time is spent on foot and the character models, interiors and in-game animations are pretty good, with the game engine-generated cut-scenes showing off decent levels of detail. The game is also fully 480p and widescreen compatible - something that really makes a difference.
Of course, for EA, The Godfather's key advantage is that it's the only sandbox game in town and with few publishers keen to port their next-gen wares to Wii, it's a state of affairs unlikely to change. So it's just as well that this is generally a decent, well-thought out and enjoyable conversion.
7 / 10
Rampage Total Destruction
Midway's original Rampage coin-op was a near-perfect concept for the mid-'80s arcade market - 20p bought you a few minutes' worth of monster-fuelled city destruction low on variety, high on enjoyment. It's just a shame that the game ever left the arcades because the core concept of relentless, monotonous destruction simply never worked on the home consoles.
Rampage Total Destruction tries to paper over the cracks with a bogglingly large array of enhancements to the core game. For a start there are 25 different monsters to unlock, each with a range of power-up abilities you earn by achieving different goals set on each level. Secondly, the threat level has been upped considerably with bullets flying at you from all sides and far more military hardware on-screen causing bother. Finally, the game has made its way into the third dimension, with a limited amount of depth to the gameplay arena that essentially boils down to having additional rows of buildings to bring down before the curtain falls on each level.
Unfortunately, the basics haven't changed since it first debuted in arcades in 1986. Bringing a building down is all about climbing it, bashing it, watching it fall down, then moving onto the next... then the next... and the next. Sure, powering-up your monster makes the job easier but the relentless pounding grows tiring within 15 minutes, no matter what power-ups the game may have, or what additional enemies are despatched to bring you down. It's all extremely monotonous - distressing so, I'd imagine, if you'd paid GBP 20 for the game.
The fact that Total Destruction is essentially a GameCube port doesn't help matters either. It has a supremely basic control system that takes next to no advantage of the Wiimote short of the odd swipe or smash here and there, and graphically it's all very backward with no progressive scan or widescreen support.
On paper, Rampage Total Destruction has a lot going for it: a vast menagerie of monsters to control, plenty of cities to destroy and complete arcade conversions of the original Rampage and Rampage World Tour available to unlock. But the bottom line is that the core gameplay is tedious beyond belief - so much so that I doubt you'd even get value from renting it.
3 / 10
Rapala Tournament Fishing
At its most basic level, Rapala Tournament Fishing is essentially a port of an existing console game embellished with a whole new control system uniquely suited to Nintendo's motion-sensing Wiimote. Considering how perfect the remote and nunchuk are for videogaming angling (as witnessed to some extent in The Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess) it's acutely surprising that this game is as shockingly poor as it actually is.
In theory, it should be a completely different story; the basics all appear to be present and correct - a vast range of fishing equipment on tap, 11 different locations to explore and fish to their very limits, 20 tournaments to compete in, multiple game modes including an arcade mode and time trials... it's clear that some effort has been put into giving the player as many different angling options as possible.
The problem is that the implementation of the control system on the Wii is absolutely abysmal, to the point where the ultra-simplistic d-pad control of your boat is marginally more satisfying and infinitely more responsive than the fishing itself. The core problem is one of response. Once you've cast off and your line is in the water, catching a bite essentially boils down to wobbling the controller about and seeing what happens. Your movements do not actually seem to correlate too closely with the 'action' on-screen and there's zero skill whatsoever required in hooking a fish. Regardless of the user's input, chances are that within seconds you'll get a bite any way. Then there's the process of reeling in the fish - an unsatisfying event where the controls seem to act merely in an advisory capacity. There is some nod to the concept of the tension on the line, and in some cases, the fish will break free and escape - it's just a shame that the response is so utterly poor that you rarely feel engaged in the process at all.
If the control system ruins the game, the graphics do little to mitigate matters - definition and animation are both poor, mediocre even by current gen standards. There's no love for 480p or widescreen either, making the game look and feel even more like a run-of-the-mill PS2 game.
I can't say that I have much love for the sport itself, but games like SEGA Bass Fishing/Get Bass prove that if the gameplay and control method feel right, the concept works and can prove to be very entertaining. That being the case, Rapala Tournament Fishing is frankly terrible considering the rich potential the Wii controller offers for games of this ilk.
3 / 10