PilotWings 64One of the most impressive 3D games ever seen on a console
Publisher: GT Interactive|
Genre: First-Person Shooter
There is nothing quite like PilotWings 64. A challenging mixture of arcade and highly refined flight simulation elements, PilotWings 64 is a truly exhilerating flying experience. Silicon Graphics' promises of delivering a games console with the power of an Onyx workstation may once have been met with skepticism, but this game looks like it's running on a low resolution Onyx, and it isn't fantasy.
The game is similar in approach to its 16-bit predecessor in that the game is designed to show off the hardware's graphics capabilities. Each of the four island settings is fantastically detailed and complete in conception. In each, there are nests of activity, with sail and speed boats coasting across the ocean, and groups of hang gliders circling mountain peaks. To a large extent, it can be difficult to follow the objectives because there is so much to explore, and the feel of flying provided by each unit (the hang glider, rocket pack, gyrocopter, and birdman suit) is exquisitely unique. Even more, the game is so peaceful and soothing (particularly in the hang gliding rounds) that each time you pick it up, it grows on you. Mountains look like real mountains, the ocean looks like a real ocean (with high tides, waves, and mist), and even fire looks realistic. There's little scenery pop-up (the huge islands suffer occasionally) due to the console's load management facilities, and there is no pixelization. Essentially, this game is so far ahead of any flying game (or for that matter, any game) yet seen on a next-generation system, the complete package is more than words can say.
Altough visual quality is an enormously important, let's get down to gameplay. Upon first impression, the game seems almost too simple, possibly even a little boring. But, while the early levels are laughably easy, they're designed to provide the player to build up his or her skills handling each of the first three vehicles. Be sure that once past the first three missions, things become a lot more challenging. At the heart of the game is a complex flying system, varied trendously be each craft, and surprisingly difficult in the latter levels. The variety is partly due to the individual crafts' peculiarities, but you’re also given a choice of six pilots, each with his or her own characteristics. Still, beyond these superficial choices lies a diversity within the game's deceptively uncomplicated structure. In one jet-pack level, the green circular hoops you're used to flying through are replaced by huge blue balls. When one is hit it explodes, revealing six smaller orange balls which all have to be burst, despite the fact that they're bouncing across the landscape.
This is by far one of the most impressive 3D games ever seen on a console, and it's delivery as a charming, diverse, and enjoyable game is immaculate. It's a classic Nintendo game made up of simple, addictive qualities and garnished with superlative detail and graphic finesse.