Hey folks, Valkor here. Thanks to the folks at XSEED, I got the chance to play probably the best game on the Wii thus far. If you're a newb to air battles or even an intermediate then definitely give "Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces" a shot. I'd say with its compelling story, there's something here even for hardcore pilots as well. The first time I tried Innocent Aces was at XSEED's party last year, which you can read my preview [HERE]. And now, th egame has resurface... in the Val-Cave.
In Innocent Aces, you play as Lynx. New fighter pilot for a privately contracted group known as Sky Crawlers. Wait back up a sec, we need some back story here. The game is actually based on the Sky Crawler's anime, but the game itself is set in an alternate universe, though the main plot remains the same. In the world of Sky Crawlers, the people are at peace; that's right, no wars. So private companies stage dogfights for the amusement of the people. In the game, Lynx gets involved with the mystery of some new pilots called "kildren". Just who they are and where they come from, no one knows. But when a set die and then return as new pilots, well the plot thickens. So in between missions, the story plays out through CGI and anime cut scenes as you learn more about the world of Sky Crawlers and just what's really going on.
The game itself makes use of the Wii-chucks (the Wii mote and Nunchuck). The Wii-mote (which you hold in your left hand) is used to speed up, slow down, brake and activate the TMC (Tactical Maneuver Command). This is a special function that when leveled up (up to three levels) allows you to perform a move that puts you just behind your opponent. The higher the level, the easier it will be to take down the enemy. The same TMC button is also used to activate a maneuver that you select on the Wii-chuck (which you hold in your right hand). You have up to eight maneuvers and believe me they really help in getting you out of hot spots or put you in a better position to take on the enemy. The Wii-chuck is also used to guide the plane. Tilt it left/right or back/forth to decide which direction your plane will go. The learning curve is pretty short. I'd say after you go through thru the tutorials, you'll be able to pilot your plane with ease. Finally the Wii-Chuck is also used to fire your main and special weapons, which you'll be able to choose at the start of each mission.
After you complete each mission, you'll unlock special weapons, new planes, and even colors to your plane. Also after each mission you're graded on how well you did and you can replay each mission after the mission is completed or in "Free Play". And each mission, 17 total, gives you different directives. Some are pretty straight forward dogfights, others you must take out targets or even recon missions. As you progress through the mission, the story will play out through "chatter" that your char will have with the other pilots. And you'll also witness as some won't make it through the end of the battle.
So what did I think of the game?
First the graphics, which for a Wii game looks great and as well as it should as the guys who made the game "Project Aces" also did such titles as the Ace Combat series. And hey what they had to work with... well it's a mighty fine job; the ground, the sky, the clouds, and the snowy white mountain tops all are beautifully rendered to the best of the Wii's capabilities. Even the planes look great, though not as sharp or detailed as they could be if they were on a higher end console, but I'm not complaining. The controls are also spot-on as you'll easy adapt to the Wii-style of play, which I thought would be difficult the very first time I tried it out. As I stated before, once you adjust to the control scheme, you'll be knocking enemy planes out of the sky in no time. The full-screen, anime cut scenes are a nice addition as well and really helps to immerse you into the story. But what works best in the air chatter between pilots. That military chatter always gets me amped and though it can be a bit goofy at times, it's still a nice addition. And finally a big kudos to the music, which definitely plays a role of drawing you into each mission; the main theme is light, cheery, but not too cheery to make it syrupy sweet. But it works great with each mission and draws you in.
Some of the voices aren't so hot when used with the anime cut-scenes, but they work better in the CGI cut scenes and missions. Second, sometimes the wii-chucks can be a bit, just a bit, unresponsive. In one mission I was targeting a cargo plane and I try to nudge my plane up just a bit, but it just holds steady. I mean eventually it does nudge up, but at times it cost me to fail that mission. But honestly I didn't mind playing the scene over.
Overall "Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces" is, so far, the best game I've played on the Wii (so far) and mind you I'm not a fan of the system. But with its great controls, compelling story, and action-goodness, I'd definitely recommend this game, especially if you've never played such a game before. And out of TOV 5 stars, I give Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces a 4. And it's been Valkor tested and TOV approved.