HeatSeeker was released in 2007 for the Nintendo Wii and PlayStation. Developed by IR Gurus and published by Codemasters, HeatSeekers let players jump into the cockpit of real fighter jets as they defend the skies from a fictional terrorist country. My HeatSeeker review will be for the Wii so let’s watch our six and fly into the horizon as I explore what Heatseeker has to offer.
You are a pilot named “Downtown”, and you’ll hear your name about every three seconds during missions. I’m not entirely sure if you are even a pilot for the United States but you’re taking down terrorists from a made-up country. The leader of this country is getting aggressive and setting up blockades in the ocean while launching nukes in the ocean. It’s your job to put him in prison and keep the world safe from his evil ambitions.
Why did Nintendo force motion controls into every Wii release? The first thing I do when I pop in a Wii game is turn that God-awful motion controls off. It took me three different attempts to find what I wanted for HeatSeeker controls but I settled on the alternate 2 controls which allowed me to steer with the nunchuck controller and shoot with the remote. My HeatSeeker review was almost ruined before it even started!
This game was cheaply made from the eye-gouging graphics that make the battle landscape look like a ten-year’s-old toy, to the grainy trees that dot the islands. Mission briefings are laughable as they installed a real-life news anchor to give fake news (what a concept) to you about what the world is witnessing. After she discusses how the world sees the war unfolding you’ll be presented a few brief mission points about what you can expect. These are told by some war General and the graphics look like they belong on the GameBoy Advance. Graphics don’t make a game but when it’s released in 2007, I expect some type of quality from it. Instead, this game could pass as a late PS1 title. The only thing that stands out is the actual plane that you pilot. It looks like the only item in the game that the developers took time to polish up.
HeatSeeker features 19 missions. 17 of them are easy to challenging with the last two missions being insanely hard but more on that later. You can expect missions to last 15 minutes to an hour. The final mission lasted almost three hours for me due to all the restarts or retries. I grew so frustrated with the game. It was the maddest I’ve been in a long time. I typically can beat 90 percent of video games especially when they are more modern but HeatSeeker presented a real challenge and I didn’t know if I’d be able to finish my HeatSeeker review.
In most missions you’ll have targets to destroy, a time limit to do something, escort cargo, or a full-on dog fight in the sky. The second-to-last mission had me protecting a carrier plane against an onslaught of enemy planes. Within 10 seconds the health of the plane you are supposed to protect drops under 50 percent. It’s not like you have five planes to shoot down, but you have almost 20 as they just dive bomb onto the cargo plane. I retried that mission close to 30 times and I thought I wasn’t ever going to beat it. After a lot of replays and some luck, I got past it.
The final mission saw just about everything come together. You had to bomb an island and take out all the defenses. Cut the power and survive tons of enemies while your radar is down and then destroy three locks to the nuclear plant before destroying the plant that has an incredible defense. All this sounds fun, but it’s really not. That’s my issue with HeatSeeker. I had fun during small portions of the game but even when I was cruising through the first 17 missions, I wasn’t enjoying it. For the final mission, I had to get cheap and fly out of the warzone just to keep my plane alive as I waited out countdowns. The finale took about three hours for me to beat after I replayed certain sections over and over. This was one of the hardest missions I’ve ever beaten and it was just on normal mode. The big kicker is that you can’t turn down the difficulty once you begin the campaign. If you select easy, normal, or hard, you’re stuck with it.
Once you blow up the nuclear plant you get a debriefing with the general predictably saying you did a great job and the world is a better place because of you. All that for some cheap ending. I feel used.
The best part of HeatSeeker was the planes. I enjoyed piloting real-life planes that are used in the Air Force. You’ll get enjoyment out of breaking the sound barrier and cruising through the clouds but the combat didn’t invoke any fun. You’ll have a few weapons at your disposal and can change them midflight. Enemies include planes, ships, subs, tanks, and mounted guns. Each one can be taken out with various weapons and it’s up to you to discover which weapons work best. There’s a stealth feature for your plane but I never used it. Up in the skies, you can command a few other planes but it felt useless and for the entire game, I just let them do what they wanted.
Want to know what’s real BS? I was so stuck on the second-to-last level that I looked at the cheat menu that unlocks features like quicker reloads etc… I tried to unlock it AND IT TOOK ME TO A CALL SCREEN TO CALL A NUMBER AND PAY $2.99 WITH MY VARIATION CODE. YOU HAVE TO PAY TO UNLOCK CHEATS! SCREW THIS GAME! AND SCREW THIS HEATSEEKER REVIEW!
Besides riling me up like I haven’t been in a while, I had very little fun with HeatSeeker as it felt like a chore. I hope to erase all memories of this game soon and move on to better games.
HeatSeeker Review Score:
HeatSeeker has poor presentation, terrible graphics, and missions that feel like marathons. There’s a large difficulty spike after 95 percent of the game is easy. The best part is piloting real-life planes that are used in the Air Force but that’s not enough to make it enjoyable. Do yourself a favor and play other air-combat games if that’s what you’re into. HeatSeeker isn’t worth much of your time and certainly not the effort I put into beating the final two missions.
HeatSeeker scores a 5.9 out of 10.
What would you write in your HeatSeeker review? What was your favorite plane to pilot? Were you able to beat the final mission? What other air-combat games do you enjoy? Let me know your thoughts, I’d love to read them. If you’d like to own a used copy of HeatSeeker for the Wii you can purchase a used copy of it on eBay for $5.