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