The only new PS2 title from Sony CEI shown at Tokyo Game Show this year that we hadn't heard of before was Sky Gunner. It can best be described as a mix of the gameplay from Panzer Dragoon and StarFox with anime-style graphics. You actually steer your ship (choose from three different planes/characters) in 3D to hit various targets both in front and in back of you. If your ship takes too much damage and starts to tailspin, you have a few precious seconds to quickly tap button combinations to get out of it. Battles look like they could be something out of Star Wars--dozens of ships flying around, enemy fire surrounding you. Unfortunately, the show version suffered from some rather hideous slowdown, but we're hoping that's fixed by the time it's released this winter.
Download Sky Gunner
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
SG combines the whimsy of a Hayao Miyazaki (the guy who brought us Princess Mononoke) anime with epic aerial warfare on a level rarely seen in video gaming. Think final battle in Return of the Jedi and you'll have an idea of the sort of unfriendly skies that await you. With all that in-your-face action, it's a good thing SG sports an easy-to-pick-up combat system. What sets ^he game apart from other dogfight-ers (like Jedi Starfighter) is that the gameplay camera always points to the bogey you're currently locked onto (PC flight-sim geeks call this a "padlock view"). That way you always know who you're shooting at, where he's going and how to get on his six. (If the funky camera throws you for a loop, you can also lock your visual down to a behind-the-plane perspective.) SG isn't very long, but it packs a lot of replay value--aside from obtaining three other characters, you can also unlock new modes, such as Survival and Time Attack. The game also sports a feature I wish more companies would include: the option to pick either English or japanese voiceovers (the latter comes with subtitles, of course). Graphically, SG looks brilliant by design, but it's almost too ambitious on a technical level. When the action heats up, SG bogs down big time. Fortunately, at the price of slightly worse graphics, you can unlock a code to iron out the slowdown. It's really the only glitch in this otherwise superb shooter.
If you swapped the Star Wars theme out of Rogue Leader for a pastel-heavy cartoon ambience, you'd have the basics of Sky Gunner. It's the closest thing to a 2D shooter turned 3D, and that rocks. The game has you gunning down formations of tiny solo fighters and huge flying fortresses alike--setting up chain combos on these guys with your lock-on arma-'ments is half the fun. Since you're competing for points with your two wingmates in the main game, you actually want to go back and play each stage several times to earn ship upgrades and top the rankings. SG's got an inexcusable slowdown problem but is otherwise good, clean fun.
If you've ever wondered what it would feel like to be Snoopy and chase the Red Baron out of the sky, Sky Gunner will put that curiosity to rest. Boasting some of the most inspired aesthetics since Panzer Dragoon, SG conjures a sense of flight and freedom so convincing, you'll want to nose-dive out of the sun and into an enemy's blind spot just because you can. Although it is, at its heart, a shooter, Sky Gunner's gameplay is layered with technique and strategy, which should satisfy gamers looking for something meatier. The game slows to a near-halt at busier times, but terrific voice acting and endearing characters keep Sky Gunner on top.