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Product: Flying Heroes
Company: Take 2/Illusions Softworks
Website: http://www.flying-heroes.com
Estimated Street Price: 29.99/$44.99
Review By: Byron Hinson/Alex Harris

The Features

I remembered reading about Flying Heroes well over a year ago, the graphics looked great and it reminded me of Magic Carpet by bullfrog in terms of manna collection etc. So was it worth the wait? Here is a short piece on the basic story as well as a run down on the features:

Once there were terrible times in Hesperia. Everybody was fighting everybody. In those fratricidal wars all parts of this vast country stood agains each other, as did all the local tribes and clans. For long years nobody had enough will and power to stop this madness. Hate so deeply sown is hard to weed out. Hesperia seemed to be the only hope - a huge wasteland without any life. But there was a man who, through the fire of battles and through the art of diplomacy, miraculously asserted peace in the dying land. It was Atlanton II, the first Hesperian emperor. Peace prevailed over deadly feuds and brought new hope to Hesperia.

Atlanton II was a wise ruler and he was well aware that the hatred that had controlled his tribes and clans for so long must find its way out. The first air battles tournament took place in Southern Chalibar, in the Arena of the Giants, exactly in the same place where gladiator fights among the prisoners of war used to take place during the war.

The tournaments soon gave rise to a unified league system in which representatives of the strongest clans fought each other. Instead of bloody wars Hesperia now lives for just and gentlemanly matches amongst its best fighters.

  • action-packed 3D shoot 'em-up set over 10 huge and graphically stunning fantasy landscapes and environments

  • frenetic multi-player feature for up to eight players over a local network and the internet

  • fully configurable options,including a 'slow'setting for younger players

  • four clans to choose from,each boasting their own tactics and characteristics

  • 24 elaborate flying vehicles each possessing four upgrade levels

  • 24 heavy-duty weapons offering explosive action,plus electrifying magic spells and abilities

  • full career mode featuring character development,League progression and resource management

  • diverse locations ranging from magical floating cities to twisting crystal caverns

Graphics

  • D3D support

  • 16,32-bit support

  • resolutions up to your card

  • dynamic lighting and shadows

  • particle graphic effects (explosions, fires, smoke, magic) (example)

  • T&L technology (supported by Nvidia GeForce chip)

  • Scalable models (5000-15000 polygons in view)

  • Scalable textures (for 4-32 GFX Card RAM)

  • Lightmapping

  • True wild rivers

  • Single-mesh animation

Sound

  • 2D/3D/surround sound support

  • interactive streaming music

  • Creative EAX2.0 support

  • True sounds of environment

Speed

  • 18 fps on minimum configuration

  • 30 fps on required configuration

  • over 100 fps on maximum configuration

Multiplayer

  • Several game modes for up to 8 players

  • Team play

  • TCP/IP and IP local network play

  • Internet play over HEAT.NET

  • Shot&Hit fast data transfer system

Miscellaneous

  • force-feedback technology

Installation And Settings

Flying Heroes has as most games coming on the market today, Auto Play making it easy to get the game on your computer. During the installation process you get the choice of size of installation varying from around 400MB to 500MB for full installation. After the game has been installed you can tweak the graphical settings changing the graphics card, screen resolution, sound quality and colour depth.

The Gameplay

It is hard to describe Flying Heroes - as it is something we haven't really seen before, which in some ways a good thing. Flying Heroes gameplay is similar to Unreal Tournament in the sense that the game is really an online style game that can be played as a single player, or as multiplayer online game.

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The game begins well with a nicely done cutscene showing you the arena type game that awaits you once you start the game. After deciding whether to play in career mode (campaign mode) or single mode, (we chose the campaign mode as that would be where the main single player aspect lies) you then get a welcomed training mode which eases you into the control and firing modes as well as the idea behind the game.

The idea behind Flying Heroes career mode is the player follows his character/clan through various leagues starting with the Iron League then the Silver League and finally the Golden League. The aim is to win each league to gain money to improve your machine (if it can be called that) and weaponry, while progressing through the leagues. During each league you have a coach who helps tutor you to use magic spells and new combat techniques that you will need to utilize to be successful in the upcoming arenas. In addition to the leagues and basic training matches, there are also a few magical quests, which take you away from the action of the arena modes and into something a little different along with tag games etc.

flying_heroes_2.jpg (168460 bytes)

The clans are as follows:

Sky Knights: Big birds seem to have lived since ever in the mountains of the Southern parts of Deborea province. But over the centuries Deborean druids have produced special breeds that are real giants. These gigantic birds with the wing span of as much as 20 meters have become the means of transport for Deborean Knights. When air tournaments started to be organized in Hesperia these heroes founded the Sky Knights society. The birds are covered with armour which, despite being very light, protects them sufficiently from enemy's fire. On the back of the birds there is a seat or a little cockpit. From there pilots control their birds with reins and also operate their weapons.

The most important qualities:

  • high velocity

  • can't stop in the middle of the air or reverse

  • can ferociously dive-attack enemy

  • effective weapons

  • light armour

Lizard Raiders: In the caves of Grey Mountains in Eastern Abamon people have lived for centuries. Harsh conditions and hard work have made them pretty tough. Together with them other creatures have lived there since ever - giant winged lizards that have became the most important helpers for mountain people. Thanks to them the people could easily overcome bottomless gorges and chasms. When the raging war finished and air tournaments started to be organized the mountain people were offered to found a flying club. That's how Lizard Riders were founded. The bodies of lizards are naturally protected by thick scales but masterful mountain blacksmiths have also made heavy iron armour plates for them. On the lizards' backs a seat or a cockpit is mounted. One of the most remarkable qualities of these lizards is their firebreath and their resistance to fire. Both these qualities come handy in the fierce league fights.

The most important qualities:

  • easy control

  • lizards are resistant to fire

  • their firebreath can be used in fight

  • the weapons of Lizard Riders have long lasting effects

Magion:

Sky Magicians who live in the flying islands to the south-east of Hesperia have founded Magion. These proud magicians are convinced that they have been selected to remind their ignorant fellow Hesperian citizens of the majesty of the art of magic. They demonstrate their strength and their possibilities by flying various bizarre objects. They float around on beautiful carpets, show off their masterful skills in piloting giant teapots, they even forced ancient battleships to fly. It`s obvious that they also use magic to shoot down their opponents in the Hesperian league.

The most important qualities:

  • easy control over magic flying objects

  • flexible maneuvering

  • a wide arrangement of both defensive and offensive tricks

Hammercraft:

In the ancient times a powerful and highly developed nation occupied the area of today's Perm province. The state's educated inhabitants and their wealth were one of the first obstacles of the long Hesperian wars. Remains of the original Permesian industry are still the most important part of the Hesperian empire. In Permesian province there is a society called Hammercraft. Its members keep and protect the ancient knowledge of this area. With this knowledge Hammercraft engineers can design huge airships that Hammercraft pilots use in air fights. Hammercraft ships are huge structures made of iron and wood. The balloon part sonsists of one or more voluminous light gas tanks. Under the tanks there is a cockpit. The propeller, the wings and the rudder are mounted to the cockpit. The armour plates of the ship are so thick and heavy that you could wonder how this piles of iron can fly at all. Well, they can, but their flight is slow and clumsy. Hammercraft airships can carry the heaviest weapons that are used in the league matches. The weapons are attached to a rotating arm under the cockpit. This allows for fast aiming and firing without the need to change the flight direction or altitude.

The most important qualities:

  • slow speed and maneuvering

  • fast rotating weapon independent on the ship itself

  • heavy armour plates

flying_heroes_3.jpg (138622 bytes)

Each clan has different attributes as you can see, some may seem easier to control than others - while certain clans have been defences and are resistant to certain weapons...Quite a cool aspect to the game.

The interface is also similar to popular first person shooters on the market today, Flying Heroes is very similar to that of Unreal Tournament. Along the top of the screen is information on mission progress, such as your position in the a tournament, number of cannons destroyed etc, there is also information on time limit in tournaments and tag time in multiplayer games. Finally along the top of the screen is a small area that gives out information on who fragged who during the game. In the center of the screen is the main frag arena consisting of information on opponents names and their position on the screen. Finally along the bottom of the screen shows health points, manna points and temporary effect icons such as fire boost, invisibility etc. In the right corner there is information about the quantity of ammunition that you currently have as well as objects you hold and the current active weapon. Early weapons in the game range from the very dull Spark gun to the icicle cannon. Weapons are bought with the money you get from each tournament match (You get money for frags etc), but you can also spend it on upgrades to you ship/creature as well as other things.

As mentioned earlier, you can pick up a number of add-ons during the game - some act as weapons such as the "Metal Star" which you fire and then guide towards you enemy yourself, very cool.

Multiplayer

For the first time ever when reviewing a game - Both Alex and I went online to start playing Flying Heroes multiplayer side of the game, but to our amazement - there were absolutely no other players online, not one even after waiting for about 30 minutes for the last couple of days. Not a good start for a game with a large multiplayer aspect to it. The game includes support for Heat multiplayer games - but not even the Flying Heroes website area on Heat wasn't working which leaves me wondering why no simple internet hookup like in Quake 3/Unreal Tournament wasn't used. If anyone else has the game and would like to try a TCP/IP game then just e-mail me and I'll update this part of the review. So if you would like to know more about the multiplayer side of the game, please check the links below.

Graphics and Sound

It might just be me, but I have heard everyone who has previously previewed the game rave about the graphics in Flying Heroes - while some levels have some great scenery, the majority isn't anything to write home about in my opinion, but in saying that - even in 1024x768x32 the game flew along nice and fast even on my PC. One part I was impressed with was the designs for all of the ships and creatures etc, they are original and like nothing you have seen before such as flying teapots (Yes, I mean it) to a pram. Some of the weapon effects are also pretty good too, along with fire effects and waterfalls/snow - but I found that some of the in-game levels were a little dull, if very colorful and fogging could sometimes be a problem.

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Sound wise it is again a mixed bag, some of it is excellent such as weapon sounds and squawking of birds that some clans fly while other parts like the voice-overs just don't seem to go with the game quite as well. The music side is pretty good - especially on the main menu, in the game though it seems like it was taken directly from Unreal Tournament again.

Final Comments

How It Grades
  Originality: 84%
Gameplay: 88%
Story: 70%
Graphics: 86%
Cutscenes: 82%
Sound: 87%
Music: 88%
Manual: 80%
Interface: 75%
Multiplayer: N/A
Overall: 87%

 

Original and fun in many ways, but also frustrating in others. If you keep at it then you could well learn to love the game, I have certainly started to enjoy it the more I play it and each time I find something new I didn't see before. It has a lot of good aspects to it in the single player game - more so than both Quake 3 and Unreal Tournament and actually manages to feel like you are playing it online even when you are not. The main problem I had with Flying Heroes was the controls, it isn't easy to control the ship/creature you are flying - especially as a beginner and I felt that could have been improved on. Flying Heroes manages to capture a good online feel for the single player and it really grows on you the more you play.

Specs & Package
Overall Score 87%
Version Reviewed UK Version (Gold)
Release Date Out Now
In The Box? 1 CD
1 Manual
The Good Points Good cutscenes
Original
Lot of vehicles and weapons
Some great scenery
Ability to upgrade ships and weapons
The Bad Points Feels slow sometimes
Hard to turn
Have to play on "Heat" if you want internet play
Similar To Unreal Tournament
Magic Carpet
Reviewers PC Setup Pentium II 450
Windows 98 Second Edition
128 Meg SD-Ram
Matrox G400 32MB AGP Graphics Card
DirectX 7a
SoundBlaster Live! Value
17" LG Electronics Monitor
Microsoft Force Feedback Pro
Microsoft Game Pad Pro (USB)
Microsoft Digital Sound System 80
Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer

DVD TV Player - Pioneer DV-626D
Widescreen TV - Sony KV-28WS2U 28"
DVD-ROM: Toshiba SD-1202

PC Required Windows 95/98
Pentium 166 mmx
64 mb ram
Mouse and Keyboard
3D video card with 4mb ram
Windows compatible sound device
3 mb free hard drive space

 

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