Saturday, 4 February 2017

Savage Skies (PS2)

Some concepts are so obvious that you can't believe that hadn't been done earlier, and Savage Skies is one of those very concepts: a fantasy combat flight sim, with mythical creatures instead of fighter jets. It was apparently going to feature Ozzy Osbourne early in development, too, which probably would have got it a bit more attention. (More than none, I mean. I'd never heard of this game at all before picking up a copy for next-to -nothing on a whim  few weeks ago.)

We might never know what the Ozzied-up version of the game might have been like, but the version we got has a pretty boring, generic fantasy plot, about a good kingdom and an evil horde and another horde that's neither good nor evil but they are weird-looking, and they're all at war with each other. You can pick any one of the three to play as, and they each have a series of missions to fly, as well as their own unique set of monsters. You don't get to pick your monster, though, each mission has one set to it. On the plus side, this means that there are a lot of them and they're all different, both visually and in the weapons with which they're equipped.

The good guys are the least interesting, having a fleet mainly made up of the obvious fantasy suspects: dragons, rocs, pegasi, and so on. The weird faction have weird steeds: flying eyeball monsters, flying manta rays, and other non-mammalian-looking monsters. The bad guys, of course, have typically evil-looking rides: giant bats, a giant locust made of bones, and my favourite of all the monsters I've seen so far, a giant flying rat armed with "vomit spray" and "plague breath". I love how childishly disgusting that guy is! I should also make mention of the stages themselves, which look amazing: mountains and deserts and huge majestic castles, the developers really made the most of the setting, giving you lots of picturesque locales to fly around and over that obviously would never appear in a traditional flight sim.

Anyway, it's not all fun: none of the monsters I've ridden so far have homing weapons, and the enemy flyers take a ton of hits before going down, so unfortunately, this means you spend a lot of time flying round and round in circles chasing an arrow at the edge of the screen pointing towards your nearest foe. Not every stage is like that, though, and some of the monsters do have weapons that make the process a lot less painful, like high-powered close-range breath weapons, or weapons that slow the enemy's movement. There is a level skip cheat, though, and I've found the best way to get the most enjoyment out of Savage Skies is to just skip a stage as soon as it gets boring or frustrating. When the game told me the next mission was a race, I skipped right away. There's something incredibly frustrating and joyless about race missions in non-racing games.

So yeah, Savage Skies is a game that mainly stands on the twin pillars of looking really nice and having a great concept. If I'd paid full price for it, I probably wouldn't be happy, but for the prices it goes for nowadays, you can totally have a lot of fun with it in conjunction with the level skip cheat.

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