Heroes In The Sky Tour: An MMO With Real Wings
By Kei Beneza (dividelife), OnRPG Journalist
Just when I started to think that MMO shooters were about to enter a generic slump, this game shows up. Heroes In The Sky is a plane-based shooter that allows players to relive the historic battles of World War II while riding in the comfort of their own plane. Honestly, I sort of judged the game even before I got to play it. I must say, I was wrong to have concluded so fast. Most plane games revolve around the isometric bird's eye view 2D platform. As much as I would want to see a game that gives us the same flight combat experience as Ace Combat, all I got were lousy plane games that shared the same Windows 95 graphics and game play. I guess I was lucky to have been given the chance to take the tour, especially since I was able to play a plane game that didn't have to copy the same generic experience most of its predecessors shared.
HIS, as they call it allows players to soar the war-themed skies in 3-Dimensional format. If I were to judge the whole thing, I'd say it's the best of its kind, but don't take my word for it. Let's continue on with our tour and see what else they got.
Man Your Battle Stations!
After logging in, players are opted to choose their desired faction. There are two factions in all: Ally and Axis. So what's the difference between these two sides? To cut things short, each faction has their own unique set of planes to choose from (and by set, I mean a lot). You'll have a nice array of German and Japanese planes over at the Axis side, while Ally players enjoy Soviet and US planes. It's amazing to see these historic planes, not to mention being able to use them. Once you've picked your faction, you'll be asked to play the in game tutorials. The lessons are fairly simple and easy to understand. Once you've finished your complementary training, you'll be ready to soar the skies like a pro.
Planes, Planes, Planes!
Like I said, the game has tons of planes to choose from, each with their own set of compatible. One thing to take note of is the in depth plane customization interface, which allows players to fully customize their planes from their artillery to the body's paintjob. These upgrades can be acquired either through rapid grinding or campus cash (real money).
Heroes in the Sky Planes
Funny enough, what makes the game totally unique is the incorporation of character classes through various planes (that's right! Classes). Each plane has their own role to play in combat, especially since it'll take forever if fighter planes take on a bombing mission with nothing but machine guns! LOL! Players can pick two skills for each plane, which are mapped to the X and Z keys. I guess it's up to you whether you want something offensive or something that can help you evade incoming attacks.
Prepare For Combat! GUNNERS! TO THE SKY!!!
Other than the average PVP death match, the game offers a nice variety of game modes to choose from. There's the PVE experience, which basically teams you up with a bunch of other players to take out AI controlled opponents. There's the mission mode which lets you relive historical moments like the bombing of Pearl Harbor. You can also pick the Attack vs Defense mode which (as the name implies) lets players battle against each other while bombing/defending a certain territory.
Other than the basic modes, HIS also offers a set of unique scenarios that increase the replayability of the game. Much like RF Online's Chip Wars, HIS also has its trademark feature known as the Occupational War. The Occupational War is held once per day, letting players fight 16-on-16 (per room) battles for global domination. These dogfights are held in different locations, and winning those grants players bonuses that are essential for character growth. There's also the upcoming Raid mode feature which lets players (level 40+) team up with each other while enduring an unforgiving barrage of AI planes ready to shoot them down at utmost precision.
The controls were laid out perfectly, allowing players to increase performance while gliding in the unforgiving skies. If you're not happy with the keyboard layout, you can always turn on mouse support or better yet, calibrate your gamepad or flight stick for an immersive experience. I really liked the way the motion controls lag on purpose, allowing players to somehow feel the weight of the aircraft. It may be a bit troublesome for those who want to dodge the moment they yank the flight stick left, but at least you got the whole realistic feel working for you.
When it comes to the graphics, HIS's visuals are definitely something to look at. With all the Windows 95 looking flight simulators moving around, I guess it's safe to assume that this game has one of the best visuals in its respective genre. The blur effect would probably be the first thing that complements the game's graphics. I'm not sure why but the whole speedy blur feature makes games rather stylish don't they? Kind of makes you feel like you're about to break the sound barrier when activating your afterburners. The WWII era planes were also copied down to the finest details, personal eye candy for aircraft fans everywhere. So far, the only problem I've encountered with the game's graphics is the unfortunate lack of screen resolutions. It's still on its CBT phase, so I suppose they'll be adding more resolutions (along with the minimize function) in due time.
Other than the lack of resolutions, which will probably change soon, HIS has everything there is to make a plane game work. The game has plane customization, item stores, 16-on-16 combat, and best of all, historical scenarios. The graphics are good and are quite nice to look at. Simply looking at screenshots doesn't really express the full capability of the game, and the only way to see its blurry goodness is by playing it. There are tons of missions and quests to keep you busy, and finishing each feels kind of rewarding in terms of self-fulfillment. As far as I know, it's the best MMO plane game around. Are you ready to shove those controls into a stylish nosedive? Hell I can't wait to see the finished product.