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The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces

8.1 Overall Score
Gameplay: 8/10 4
Sounds: 7/10
Graphics: 7/10

Solid graphics and sound | Decent story

Short campaign | Bland visuals

The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces game is based on the anime film derived from a series of Japanese novels. It set in an alternate history where entertainment for the masses is big business. The entertainment diversion is also an intelligent form of population control. Although armed conflict has been eliminated, the world is constantly reminded of the dangers and tragedies of war. In order to satisfy the populace, the multi-national corporations Rostock and Lautern wage ongoing war in the skies over planet Earth. All the while, media coverage depicts the war riddled skies as an endless sporting event. Although the world is full of mendacious propaganda, it is intelligently divided into a series of movie theaters. This allows the pilots of Rostock and Lautern to ferociously duel for supremacy in each one.

The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces is a prequel to the movie, written with input from the film’s director and the novel’s author. What a storyline! The basic game structure of Sky Crawlers includes story segments with book-ending, objective based missions. Even though the storyline is pretty deep, this is not a feckless, arcadian game. You get to play the role of Lynx, a novice ace pilot assigned to Rostock’s elite Cougar Squad. You are tasked with defending against Lautern’s recent surge.

The Sky1

In the world of Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces, jet engines have not yet been invented so propeller based planes rule the skies. In this alternate history based game, pursuit becomes a major factor of any fight. This game will totally test your flight simulation skills. There is no luxury of radar guided ammunitions so you must get right on top of your enemy to blast him out of the sky. You cannot allow your mission to end uncompleted. If you do not accomplish your goal, run out of time, or get shot down, you fail miserably.

You must eliminate threats from the air as well as ground targets. Secondary weapons are optional, and usually include a lovely array of bombs and rockets. You must also determine which aircraft is best suited for each mission, which is part of the fun. Each aircraft has different strengths and a defined set of secondary weapons. They can be augmented with the addition of parts that are unlocked by completing missions. Each aircraft is both fascinating and distinct.

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The control scheme employed in The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces is both unique and ambitious. It is effective in providing an undiminished sense of connection with your aircraft. There is a great optional tutorial to help you master the pitch and roll of the aircraft prior to your gameplay. Execute scripted aerial maneuvers, such as barrel rolls and Immelmann turns. You will need to fine tune your skills in order to bear down on a streaking enemy. The scale and ferocity of the havoc you can wreak intensifies the overall gaming experience.

The magnitude of tension in Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces is intensified through the incredible sound effects. Radial engines grumble and gruff, gunfire echoes vary with the type of gun being fired, and the explosions depict climactic annihilations.  The aural mastery doesn’t stop there. The soundtrack seems to have come straight from the film itself. The musical backdrop ranges from exhilarating to somber, befitting each situation.

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From a visual standpoint this game is equally stunning. Innocent Aces uses GeoEye images to project the landscapes. They all come from captured satellite images of the Earth’s surface. An efficacious color palette compliments the images of the source material. Hand drawn cinematics compliment the fantastic art in this game. Everything is pleasing to the eye to put it mildly.

The Sky Crawler: Innocent Aces is a critical must-have for any gamer who enjoys flight simulation with a great storyline. The in-flight dialogue brings to life the narrative behind the game completely submersing you in this alternative reality. The top-shelf graphics are solid and each mission offers heart-pounding excitement. If flight combat is your genre, then you should be headed out the door to purchase Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces.

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