The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces Wii

The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces Wii
Console flying games will never come close to matching the stark realism of Microsoft's long-running computer series Flight Simulator. Nor should they. That game is for proper obsessives, the trainspotters of the gaming world, while most of us just want to have fun.

Sky Crawlers comes through on that end with, as they say, flying colours. Created by Project Aces, the team behind the popular Ace Combat series, it takes an arcade-inspired approach, using the Wii's motion-sensing to create an intuitive control scheme — moving the Nunchuk handles for turning, pitch and yaw while the Wii-mote acts as the throttle and buttons fire off the weapons and tricks like barrel roles. (Though you can also abandon tilt for all-traditional controls.)

Meanwhile, the titular anime and manga franchise is the basis for its individual missions and overall story. Though there are animated cut-scenes made by Production I.G., the same folks behind the tangentially related 2008 film; you may wanna go rent that because the story is way confusing.

Basically, Sky Crawlers is an alternate reality story set in the near-past — propeller plans still rule the skies — where war has been abolished but corporations ensure that organized dog-fighting for fun (and the military-industrial complex profit) continues unabated. So you play rookie fighter pilot Lynx, one of the immortal Kildren that these evil corporations have created to fight their faux wars.

It's a thought-proving and relevant story in our era of military contractors and privatized warfare, and it's really too bad the narrative falters without taking full advantage of its licensed story. Still, the main thrust of the game is flight and fight. And in that arena, Sky Crawlers remains airborne. (Xseed/Namco Bandai)