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The Warfront Beckons...
Game Campus' moderately casual yet arcade-esque flight-MMO recently went live and the game encompasses a large measure of creativity while keeping the fun factors high and the in-game quality and originality very well intact.
Heroes in the Sky sees players choosing to be either the Axis (Germans or Japanese) or the Allies (British, Russians or Americans). The game features a very extensive selection of various planes, multiplayer encounters, single-player missions, and PvP-based campaigns where the world is at stake. The highlight of the gameplay comes in the form of its PvP-centric campaign missions and item-farming customization features for the varied selection of World War II planes.
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Onnet and Games Campus really out did themselves with Heroes in the Sky. The game combines the traditional flying simulation, open-air concept with an MMO-based leveling and PvP model that actually works well…really well.
It’s not just a mish-mash of PvP and dog-fighting, either. The game lets players socialize at the base (albeit inside a plane), upgrade their plane, buy new planes, acquire specialty planes, participate in single or multiplayer missions, take on branching missions, or fight on the warfront in daily campaigns against opposing players.
My only gripe is that the Occupational War (which sees the Axis and the Allies going at it head-to-head in realtime battles for specific territories on a campaign map) is limited to opening only at certain times in the day. The choice to keep the Occupational War on a timed schedule like that really does limit the involvement of players in different time zones.
Otherwise, the concept for the game is remarkably fascinating and works quite well from what they seemed to put down on paper and how it was executed in-game...unlike a few other notable high-profile projects such as All Points Bulletin or Mortal Online.
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Despite many of the quests being the standard-fare type in the MMO genre, I was pleasantly surprised with all the branching campaigns, side-quests and extra-experience grinding missions for players to complete.
One neat aspect about the quest setup is that all the quests on the game can be done solo or in a team. Players who enjoy offline flight simulators will definitely like the campaign missions in Heroes in the Sky given that they’re about as high quality as any other pay-to-play flight sim.
Of course, for players who enjoy mob grinding their way from one level to the next, it’s still possible to do so in Heroes in the Sky. For everyone else who likes a good campaign-driven game, it’s readily available in this game as well, with plenty of upgrades, rare parts and weapons up for grabs upon the completion of specific quests.
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Being free-to-play most gamers would automatically assume that the gameplay in HitS is sub-par. To some degree, the physics do lack a bit of the weighty feel you might find in other triple-A flight sims, but the developers still managed to make the game diverse enough so that hardcore and casual gamers can find a niche playing style in Heroes of the Sky.
What’s more is that every plane in the game has very slight but noticeable differences in the flying mechanics. Hopping into a bomber will feel very slow as they lumber around through the clouds, even though they have a high power output of cannon fire and the ability to hold additional ordinance. Smaller planes with light machine guns have a floaty feel and can maneuver a lot easier than the bigger planes.
To add to the diversity of gameplay, each series of planes fits into a category and each category has its own skills, weapons and other specialties. Players who like performing stunts and keeping out of their opponent’s sights will find plenty of evasive skills available, just as players who prefer one-hit missile KOs can do so with the gunner class skills.
The wide variety of moves, skills, parts and planes that each play a factor in broadening the replay of the gameplay helps keep Heroes in the Sky feeling fresh long after boot-up.
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Just because a game is set during World War II doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to represent the warfront, planes or locations accurately. The nice part about Heroes in the Sky is that it has a gritty feel to its atmosphere without feeling like just another flight sim.
The only problem with the game is that many of the campaign maps feel very bland when it comes to making distinctions from one stage to the next. The ground segments are composed mostly of the same look and feel and it all has a very familiar war-torn aesthetic that can sometimes feel rehashed. Otherwise, the planes, the bases, the war-map and everything associated with the game reenacting the conflict from an aerial point of view of World War II is done quite well.
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Graphics And Sound
I won’t say that the developers left much to be desired on the forefront of the visual department in Heroes in the Sky but it does leave a little to be desired in resolution department given the limited 800x600 view.
Gamers aiming for super high-definition dog-fighting will probably have to wait for a patch, but it’s not as if the resolution is a game breaker for Heroes in the Sky.
Many of the decals, textures and plane models are designed with intricate enough detail to reflect quite a resemblance to the real life counterparts. The special effects and explosions are also handled quite well and are sure to spread a satisfactory smile across the player’s face who manages to shoot down a fellow rival during an intense PvP bout.
The soundtrack for the game certainly isn’t bad either. One of the songs that loops while players are in the base camp sounds eerily similar to the world map music on the 1996 SNES RPG, Bahumat Lagoon. With that aside, the heroic themes that blare during campaign missions, standard deathmatch rounds and occupational theatres gives the game a minor hint of cinematic prestige, especially as things get heated when reinforcements arrive or a few teammates bite the dust during a flanking run.
Many of the sound effects are right up there on par with the musical score, with metal dings and bangs being heard as bullets eat through metal frames or cannon fire rips through a cockpit. The ambient explosions and minor voiceovers also add an extra layer of immersion to the game.
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Heroes in the Sky doesn’t tread on new ground when it comes to flight simulation, however, it does set itself apart greatly with the highly detailed customization features, easy access to PvP and a streamlined campaign with enough missions to keep the most die-hard fan busy for quite some time.
With such a huge collection of planes from the different factions on the Axis and Allies side and a number of premium items available, Heroes in the Sky is a definitive action-oriented flight similar that’s surely worth checking out…especially considering that it’s free-to-play.