January 14, 2010 – The wait is finally over folks. Those who have been waiting a long time for a solid anime driven flight game, The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces is your game. It’s here that you get a heartfelt, story-driven anime combining with the technical prowess of the good folks over at Project Aces; the people responsible for the Ace Combat series. Not only that, when you look at XSEED Games resent track record with the Nintendo Wii, you can definitely rest assure that the experience you will bear witness to within Innocent Aces is that of quality and quantity, a rarity in third-party Wii games. Instead of rambling on and on, let’s get right down to the reason why The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces will be added to your Wii gaming collection very soon.
Before jumping right into Innocent Aces, I decided to brush up on the anime by watching The Sky Crawlers anime, which is chalked full of intense aerial battle sequences and a very flesh out storyline. While I can say that the anime does add some extra perspective when playing the game, you don’t have to rush out to buy the anime in order to enjoy this experience. What the good folks over at Project Aces did was take elements from the anime and their knowhow for flight games and crafted a unique gaming experience that harks back to the anime and novels, while also carving its own niche which separates the title for other flight games that have come before it.
When it comes to the storyline with Innocent Aces, not too much time is spent explaining what has lead to the events that are taking place within the game, so to help my fellow readers out, I have summarized the basis for the movie and the game, making it easier for you to understand what’s going on. The story within Innocent Aces revolves around a young fighter pilot who goes by the call-sign Lynx. The story takes place within an alternate past where the world isn’t trying to kill one another over resources and war is looked upon as useless. That is all until you guessed it gigantic corporations had an epiphany; realizing that they could in fact make money off of wars. Instead of actually starting up a war, they decide to start up a league of sorts, which allows battle-sequences and/or dogfighting to commence. You can look upon this league as creating mock wars for the shier purpose of newspaper headlines; not regarding human life as valuable. However, thanks to a genetic technology known as Kildren, the league has an ample supply of children that will never age and are practically immortal; unless of course you get blown up in battle.
When it comes to flying within Innocent Aces, you can expect an experience similar to Ace Combat games with tweaks and enhancements in place so the action mimics that off The Sky Crawlers. The flight experience comes pretty close to the movie’s presentation through the use of three different control schemes. You have the option of pulling out your Wii Classic Controller of GameCube controller, however to mimic the authentic experience of a fighter pilot, I recommend using your Wii-mote and nunchuk. The basic controls for flight require you use the nunchuk to control turning, while the Wii-mote acts as your throttle. I will admit the Wii controllers have a steeper learning curve to get over; however no matter what control scheme you choose, you can expect to pull of some interesting dogfighting techniques that are simply breath-taking.
Once you are use to the basic flight controls, you are able to advance into the meet of the dogfighting experience through the use of the TMC (Tactical Maneuver Commands) system. As you approach an enemy from behind, your TMC meter will begin to fill and upon reaching its maximum, the game allows you to swoop behind your enemy for the kill shot via a cinematic maneuver. Early on in the game, this ability gives you a slight upper hand, however once you take part in the ladder missions; it becomes the difference maker between you completing the mission or being destroyed in a heaping ball of fiery steel. You will also have the ability to assign manual maneuvers to the analog stick or D-pad, which can prove very useful in battle. These manual maneuvers range from simple stuff like barrel roles to more complex maneuvers like Chandelles.
With the guys from Project Aces working on Innocent Aces, many would assume that the game would be a clone of the Ace Combat series titles that were released on the PS2 and Xbox 360 console. In actuality, many of those same gameplay features are present within this title, however are presented in a more simpler form. You can expect fully voiced mission briefings, a pre-launched map highlighting the locations of both friendlies and hostiles and post-mission relays. Once you have finished a mission and you are being debriefed, you can watch said mission from six different camera settings and even follow the flight paths of both friendlies and hostiles. Upon the completion of the mission debriefing, said replays can be saved for future reference points. While the main emphasis of the game is placed on the battle sequences within mixed in cutscenes, these gameplay features help enhance the experience for the end year, which crave added depth.
The visuals and audio support within Innocent Aces is rather solid. Though it takes a backseat to the actual gameplay, the guys over at Project Aces did a bang up job creating a visually interesting flight game. From the detail put into the landscapes and the aircrafts themselves, to the special effect from bullets firing, blazing buy enemies at high speeds and even fiery deaths all look pretty good. There is a change in visual quality as you take on missions that involve upwards of a dozen planes on the screen at once, however the quality isn’t lowered to the point where you would hear complaints from players. When it comes to the audio, the musical score is very befitting of the title. The voiceover work is also solid and informative at times. Pretty much everything within the game is voiced, allowing the player to connect with the game and the speaker more so than simply looking at images and a bunch of text on screen. There really isn’t anything to grip over in terms of these two areas simply because there was more put into this game that you get from other flight-based games.
With another Wii title under their belt, XSEED Games is has proven that third-party games can have both quality and quantity, without sacrificing anything. The guys over at Project Aces have stepped up to the plate translating an animated masterpiece in a playable and enjoying videogame that Wii owners show openly welcome into their gaming collection albeit if you light flight-based games. With solid gameplay mechanics, robust voice-over work and a solid visual experience, it’s hard to argue as to why this game shouldn’t be bought by the masses.