Every year, amidst a sea of clones and an ocean of mediocrity, a
handful of completely original titles make its way to store shelves.
Talonsoft's Flying Heroes is one of those unique titles. Problem is,
the more I played Flying Heroes, the less interested I became with
it. For the sake of a better metaphor, think of Flying Heroes as a
stripper at a peeler who makes the mistake of removing all her
clothes in the first minute of the first song. Why is this a bad thing
you ask? That's simple, the show's only begun and you've already
shown me all your goodies. I don't care if there's still another song
or two left in your routine, get off the stage and bring on the next
lady… err, game!
Flying Heroes is a real-time first person aerial combat game. If
you're having a hard time picturing that combination, think of a
deathmatch mode in Descent and replace the environments with
those found in Drakan. The end result is an airborne gladiatorial
fight merging technology with classic fantasy themes.
The beautiful lands of Hesperia are the site for these airborne
battles, as a handful of different factions have decided to do battle
for supremacy of this vast and beautiful world. There are four basic
factions doing battle, the Lizard Riders, Magion, Sky Knights and
Hammercraft. In the single player mode, you can select any one
creature from any one faction and do battle with other factions.
This is strictly a deathmatch style mode in which the sole objective is killing your opponents as
many times as possible. If anything, this mode serves well as a
tutorial or practice arena where you can hone your flying skills
and learn how to use each creature and the weapons they
possess. Once you've completed a few battles and learned the
ropes, you can begin the career mode, where the real meat of the
game lies. Unfortunately, there's just not much meat there.
In the career mode, you play an up-and-coming sky pilot looking to
make a name for himself in the world of Hesperia. You'll begin by
selecting a faction to associate with, but your choices are limited
to either the Lizard Riders or the Magion. You can't align yourself
with the Sky Knights or the Hammercraft until you've successfully
completed the campaigns for both of those factions. Once you've
selected a faction, you'll enter a series of skirmishes with a variety
of creatures from other factions. These skirmishes play out much
like a deathmatch from any first person shooter with several
differences. For one, the battles take place in the sky, as you're
strapped to the back of some mythical or technological creature.
Another difference, or perhaps hindrance, is the fact that the
arenas and overall environments are incredible petite in design.
There's relatively little room to manoeuvre and it consistently
comes down to flying head-on and firing your weapons as many
times as possible. Most of the arenas sport camping spots and
hidden areas, but most of the combat will undoubtedly take place
in a small portion of the map.
With each kill in the career mode, you'll gain experience points
which can be later used to purchase new weapons and new
fighting machines. While most of the battles are one-on-one
deathmatchs, there are also games of tag and the occasional
mission-based Quest matches that take place in between the
deathmatchs. The Quest matches are a nice little distraction from
the constant skirmishes but certainly aren't used well. They're
relatively simple and quick quests that result in very little gain in
terms of experience points. You'll find yourself back in the arena
before you know it for another heralded air battle.
Visually, Flying Heroes is fairly attractive. The environments, while
some seemingly stolen from Drakan, serve well for these one-on-one
battles. While the creatures look realistic enough, the little guy
riding on their back offers an embarrassingly low polygon count.
The cut scenes also have an ugly feel to them, featuring
animations that are pitiful to say the least. In terms of the audio
department, the sounds could certainly use touching up. The
voice-overs are laughable at times but luckily are kept to a
minimum. The taunts during the battles are all text-based, a
decision that no doubt came after they realized how bad the
voice-overs were. Other than that, the sound effects include the
average noises you'd expect from a battle.
Flying Heroes features multiplayer options that include support for
up to six players via modem, LAN and the Internet. As I'm sure you
could predict, the multiplayer feature… deathmatch play. There
are also cooperative scenarios with a variety of play modes, all of
which succumb to the same problem the single player game does,
that being that it's only fun the first few times. There are several
modes of difficulty offered in Flying Heroes but I'd suggest sticking
to one of the easier levels since the only factor the difficulty setting
seems to alter is the amount of weapons your opponents have. On
the hardest level, you'll find yourself replaying several battles just
to accumulate enough experience to purchase a new weapon.
Flying Heroes is one of those games that offer a certain amount of
replayability by offering four separate factions to be apart of.
When you complete the career mode with the Lizard Riders, why
not give it a go with the Magion? I'll tell you why, because once
you complete a few battles with any particular faction, you've
already seen all the goodies. Flying Heroes does very little to
make you come back a second or third time to do battle in
Hesperia. It was fun for about 5 minutes but this title lacks staying
power in a big way.
[ 14/20 ] Graphics
[ 08/15 ] Sound
[ 15/30 ] Gameplay
[ 08/20 ] Fun Factor
[ 02/05 ] Multiplayer
[ 05/10 ] Overall Impression