Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

When the Wii launched six months ago, it promised to flood us with games like Heatseeker—cheap pleasures that used the motion controls for everything under the sun, from flying planes to sailing boats to taking out the trash. Yet only a handful of games are truly exploiting motion-hungry consumers, and that makes the shortcomings of those games harder to take. Heatseeker is a half-baked game saved only by the sheer joy of playing it. A jet sim that pits American naval pilots named "Divot" and "Downtown" against "rebels" and "The Federation," it cuts a lot of corners in presentation. The missions have the clunky pacing of a 2-year-old's birthday party, and the script and acting will make you ashamed to speak English. Worst of all, the graphics are blurry and often drab where they should bring maximum eye-pop to the Mach 3 aerobatics.

But all that aside, Heatseeker fulfills its core mission: delivering fast, thrilling aerial battles. The selection of planes and weapons will please gearheads, and the missile-lock system manages to help your aim without doing all the work. But the real satisfaction lies in all the close calls—like swooping within five meters of the sea to finish off a destroyer, or watching your jet shake and spit fire when it's on its last legs.


Beyond the game: The campaign leads you through several hours of missions, with a fair balance of ground and air targets.

Worth playing for: When you yank back and climb as fast as possible, then turn and dive-bomb a target, you'll almost feel a little vertigo.

Frustration sets in when: On the Wii, the motion controls still take getting used to: The temptation to pull back as hard as you can makes it easy to break contact with the sensor bar.

Final judgment: Like a ramshackle kiddie ride at the state fair, Heatseeker doesn't deliver what you deserve, but it gives you what you want.

(reviewed on Wii)