Reviews// Pilot Academy (PSP)

Furrows and Frustration

Posted 1 Nov 2006 11:12 by
Since this reviewer was quite young he yearned to become a pilot: speeding through the skies, blasting down enemies and being the hero of the day. The Red Arrows were favourites of mine but then I was exposed to Sonic the Hedgehog and everything changed.

Although videogames grabbed and hung on to my imagination, it?s got to be said that for the most part, flight sims have been either tedious affairs involving taking off, flying about a bit and landing; or were set in wars of yore, gunning down bounders or aimlessly chasing Jerries. Flight sims have traditionally been for flight-geeks.

So, when Rising Star threw Pilot Academy at SPOnG, the team handed me the copy and noticed my furrowed, frustrated brow. For a guy who?s never seen Top Gun all the way through, I had to ask myself, ?Is this game going to have a really sophisticated control system and therefore, cause me pain??

Well, yes. But, as it turns out, that?s OK; in fact it?s a good thing. A man has to learn sometime. And Pilot Academy is just about the most sophisticated and enjoyable choice for your handheld . Well, really it?s pretty much your only choice right now, but the commands have been implemented well for the PSP and, after a few practices, even I didn?t suck so much anymore. Triangle and Circle are used to control the throttle, while SELECT switches gears for landing, take off and normal flight and the L and R triggers activate the rudders on each respective side.

Complete Control
The analogue nub moves your craft around ? delightful for simulation fans, dreadful at first for ?Mr. Arcade? sitting right here. The nub is extremely sensitive, and to turn effectively you must slightly push the nub in the direction you want to go, while balancing your turn out by holding your nose up (usually done by holding down on the nub). It appeared if you just did a sensitive diagonal style movement when turning, you?d be all right. They might sound like awkward controls, but it?s as easy as quaffing duty free in First Class after a few goes, and you get to explore the various planes and modes on offer.

The graphics in themselves are pretty good too, a whole host of planes have been faithfully recreated from commercial Boeings to F-14 Tomcats. Although the worlds you fly around aren?t exactly filled with buildings, they usually suit the mission you are engaged in, and you?re usually too concerned with the objective at hand to soak in the scenery anyway.

Three regions of the world are open for exploration, and the huge space you get to fly around more than makes up for lack of buildings in an urban environment. The sound isn?t exactly engaging however ? all the sound effects appear present and correct, but the in-game music tends to be slightly grating and I could have done without those voice-overs.
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