Activision invites you to take to the sky in an addictive, action-packed flightsimulation that will test your piloting skills and nerves to their limits. Grab the stick of planes ranging from a Swordfish Mk. 1bi-plane to an F4U Corsair and try your hand at variety of missions: refueling from a moving train, roaring through undergroundtunnels to discover hidden ruins, and a touch and go landing on an aircraftcarrier at sea. With challenges that mix precision flying and the thrill of barnstorming, you'll be hooked. I know I am.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
The heart of Sky Odyssey is the Adventure mode where you take on a series ofmissions to explore the secrets of a remote island chain. Exactly why thisisland chain is so remote isn't entirely clear as there seem to be airstripsalmost everywhere you need to go -- although later missions do require thatyou earn pontoons for water landings. Your ultimate goal is to discover thelocation of an ancient hidden tower and recover its lost treasures.
Each mission adds a twist to keep things challenging and has one or more goals that must be completed. You might have to refuelfrom a speeding train or flying tanker, speed through a cave while rockstumble from the ceiling, or rescue a wayward balloonist by attaching weightsto a dangling hook. Most missions also have a time limit you must beat tocontinue the game, although the branching mission tree allows you to selectfrom several different options if you get stuck trying to get through one.
As you go through each mission there are checkpoint rings that mark your path and hitting all the rings or performing tricks as you fly will unlockspecial awards. After each mission you'll receive a grade -- the better thegrade the nicer the improvements you'll be able to purchase for your plane.Those improvements are vital to completing the game -- stronger engines,more aerodynamic wings, and other additions such as pontoons are required tomake it through the later scenarios.
But Adventure isn't the end of the challenge in Sky Odyssey. In Targetmode your goal is to play through a series of targets, doingtricks. Getting through the obstacle courses in Target mode beforetime runs out takes precision flying. I particularly liked the course setin a working pit mine. Trying to climb and dive in the limited space at thebottom of the mine was a real challenge. In Sky Canvas mode you get to try yourhad at drawing figures using smoke trails to earn equipment and unlocknew aircraft.
When you get frustrated trying to beat the missions and courses and wantto try a tamer flying experience you can take on Free Flight mode, where youset the goals and the sky is yours to command. Every area you've completedin Adventure mode is available for play. Add in the variable weather andtime of day settings and Free Flight lets you test your skills against everyenvironment the game has to offer without the restriction of the clock.
On top of the variety of missions is a game 3D world that is rich anddetailed. Cliffs tower over you as you weave through canyons. Waterfallsrumble with tremendous power. Caves echo back your engine's growl as youmaneuver around precarious columns. Wind, rain, and snow effect your plane'shandling. Every aspect of the world is rendered is detail -- I found myselfgoing back to each mission area repeatedly to explore the areas I didn'thave the chance to see well while racing against the clock.
Sky Odyssey has some of the best weather effects I've seen in any game. Theparticle effects used for rain bouncing off the aircraft are fantastic and, when flying in snowstorms, the swirling flakes will make youshiver. Clouds and lightning look life-like, adding to the game'satmosphere.
The game does fall a little short in some areas though. Anti-aliasingglitches in both of the plane models and some 3D objects in the backgroundsdetract from the realism, and in very complex areas of the maps (usuallynear the waterfalls) the game's framerate can take a significant hit. Thetextures are also disappointing in spots. All the textures look fantasticfrom a distance, but some of them, particularly in the desert areas, look sloppy when viewedup close. Since most of the gameplayis close to the ground this can become very noticeable.
Overall, though, I was impressed by the graphics in Sky Odyssey -- controlsurfaces on the planes move as you fly about, water looks like it's reallywet, and the sky looks about as real as you can get in a renderedenvironment.
When I dropped in Sky Odyssey and started playing, I was blown away by theaudio. Very few console games do as nice a job of setting the mood. Themusic tracks throughout the game are upbeat and matched to the gameplay verywell. I never felt that they intruded on the game; on the contrary, themusic boosted the drama significantly. Adding to the music are sometop-notch effects: thunder crashes around you and waterfalls rumble withobvious power as you fly by. Wind whistles across the tops of cliffs andyour plane's engine noise is thrown back at you from the surrounding cliffsand cave walls.
While there have been lots of games released so far for the PS2, very fewshow off the system as well as Sky Odyssey. Add in some game action that is sureto keep you on the edge of your seat and you've got a combination that'shard to beat. With gameplay ranging from the epic Adventure mode toprecision target flying and Free Flight modes this one's got something foreveryone. The stunning 3D worlds will knock your socks off, and the mix ofaircraft will keep you coming back for more. Sky Odyssey is remarkable --every PlayStation 2 owner should rush out to grab this one. Trust me, youwon't be disappointed.
Download Sky Odyssey
Sky Odyssey isn't the visual tour de force you'd expect from the PS2. The graphics are often low-res, plain, patterned textures (especially along mountain trenches or inside caves/tunnels). Touches of slowdown appear (and it reverts to a lower-res mode) when the screen's filled with effects, but that's nothing but a minor annoyance. It sometimes seems as if it's a PS one game that was given a few extra effects and brought out for PS2. Now that that's out of the way, let me just say--I had a helluva lot of fun with this game. The aptly named Adventure mode has an air to it Cscuse the pun) that makes you feel like you're not just flying around aimlessly--and it's more realistic than Pilotwings. The sense of flight and speed is good and the control is tight. It isn't fast-paced until later missions, but there are plenty of tense moments. It's like a roller coaster-after a few times you know where the loops are, but you still scream your head off. You'll spend hours flying missions and upgrading your planes. Drawing in Sky Canvas mode and finishing the goals in Target mode--all of it makes you feel like you're really learning to fly. The problem is, there's not enough of it. By the time the game is over, you wish there were more missions, more skywriting, more targets; but there isn't. It's a great game (worth buying if you're hard up for good PS2 games), but the graphics lack variety and I wish there was more to do.
Every system needs a Pilotwings. The N64 had PW64, the DC had Aerowings, and now the PS2 has Sky Odyssey. Something about the soothing manner in which you roll your old-school plane through the sky is strangely enjoyable, despite the absence of any firepower. You'll find a nice variety of missions and some great music, and you can upgrade the heck out of your aircraft. Sadly, the graphics are weak (grainy and repetitious tiles). Yes, it usually pipes along at a consistent 6ofps, and there are loads of nice details (clouds, waves splashing), but the overall look of the game is surprisingly primitive. Worth a look if you're easily pleased.
Even with graphics that borderline on laughably horrible at times. Sky Odyssey is one of the few PSa games I really had a great time playing with so far. Perhaps it was the topnotch control, outstanding tunes, or the really fun, challenging missions. I don't know, but it's a great feeling to enjoy a game you expected to hate. Similar to Pilotwings on a basic level. Sky's story mode has you preforming tasks (while flying through rings), but the ones found here have way more depth than those in Nintendo's flight game. In fact, Sky's only downfall is its crap textures (often approaching PS one quality), but the well-designed levels make up for that. Sort of.
If you look at this and think, "Pilotwings," you're only half right. Yeah, Sky Odyssey has the "fly through the rings " levels, but it also has a whole slew of unique and varied missions of its own.
In this new flight game from Activision, you travel between three islands, uncovering pieces of a lost map as you go. Each area requires you to complete specific objectives before landing on the other side. They get quite creative, too, including landing on an aircraft carrier in inclement weather, saving an out-of-control hot-air balloon from certain doom, rendezvousing with a refueling plane over the ocean and dumping fuel to cross a mountain pass. Of course, there'll be things to get in your way like falling boulders, geysers, water wheels and lava. Each mission also must be completed within a time limit, and you're given a grade based on your ending score. If you consider yourself an acrobat, try some fancy flyin for extra points. Two controller configurations make it easy for both flight sim fans and novices to enjoy.
Target, Sky Canvas and Free Flight modes round out the action, plus a handy training mode. Your ultimate goal is to make your way around the three islands, eventually reaching Eden--a place where planes are free to frolic, away from the hustle and bustle of runways and control towers.
Now that you know what it's all about, see what the Review Crew thought of Sky Odyssey in PS2 reviews this issue.
Being touted as the first true flying game for the PlayStation 2 (yes, it's PS2, we checked), Activision's Sky Odyssey will have you piloting a variety of planes from different time periods, giving you the chance to perform death-defying stunts from the comfort of your couch. Coming in time for the holidays, Sky Odyssey's multiple play options (including an adventure mode) should be cool, but what's up with the graphics?