Review of Sky Odyssey
It is becoming increasingly rare that a title arrives at the office that takes us completely by surprise (for better or worse). Sky Odyssey is one such title and in this case is was a pleasant little surprise indeed!
To start things off I suggest entering the Training mode where you are tasked with a series of objectives to prove that you are capable of piloting an airborne craft. This is a good place to start the game and get a feel for each plane that is available to you. Once you have successfully completed the training missions its time for you to venture off to bigger and better things.
The game offers up several real modes of play with the primary one being the Adventure mode of course. In this mode you are tasked with flying your plane to the mysterious and legendary Tower of Maximus. To date, many skilled pilots have attempted to verify the existence of this place, but all of those that have set out on this journey have never been heard from again. The trip is a long and arduous one that is broken out into many short trips…each one more challenging than the last. Before each flight you can select from one of three planes (to start off with). Since each plane has different attributes, you should try to pick the plane best suited for each particular flight mission. As you successfully complete each flight, that grid location will be unlocked for you to select in Freeflight mode. Needless to say but each area is absolutely enormous. I also found it infinitely enjoyable to be able to relax and explore each of these areas in detail in the Freeflight mode without having to worry about the mission restrictions. Anyway, each segment that you are given presents you with new and very diverse challenges. The main theme of each flight mission though is to land at a specified runway. I will highlight the first few to give you an idea of what to expect.
During one flight your plane will have a gas tank leak. You cannot possible make it to the prescribed landing location so you must refuel en-flight. To do this you will need to dock with a moving train as it winds its way along the desert. You will need to do this several times while avoiding smashing into the ground, into tunnel walls, or into the sides of mountains. Another flight has you leaving an airport just before sunset. You need to arrive at another location before sundown but that location is over 20 miles away and your plane cannot possibly fly fast enough to get you there in time. The solution? Try riding through air turbulence tubes! These babies will jack you up to over 400mph in no time. Of course there are many tubes at various altitudes so you must use your radar to find the right ones. Another mission has you weaving through a massive underground cavern…while trying to avoid huge chunks of stalactites that are breaking off of the ceiling all around you. Hey, I never said the journey there would be an easy one!
To add spice to an already engaging theme you are also given the opportunity to fly your plane through rings that appear along your flight path. Some rings are located in treacherous spots that are almost impossible to navigate through, but completing all of the rings during a flight does have its own rewards. Oh wait…there is more. You can also perform tricks along the way like barrel rolls and loops that will net you points. There is also a recommended time intervals for completing each flight. At the end of each flight all of these little variables (rings completed, trick points, flight time, etc.) are tabulated and you are given a final grade of A - F. Getting a higher grade will enable you to upgrade your planes with new and improved parts for the next flight.
Freeflight mode is just that…you and your machine flying around till your hearts content. In this mode, you also need to view a weather map prior to each flight for stuff like barometric pressure and various types of storm fronts. Now there is nothing stopping you from taking off regardless of the weather conditions…but windsheer could really put a damper on your Sunday afternoon jaunt!
Rounding out the game is a Target mode and a Sky Canvas (skywriting) mode. The former has you guiding your craft through numbered targets. As you progress further in this mode you can unlock new aircraft…like a flying saucer for instance. The skywriting mode challenges you to draw specific objects in the sky and once again you get rewarded for completing the tasks. This mode is actually a lot harder than it sounds as you must go in a specific order and complete the pattern before the smoke clears away from where you started your drawing!
At first glance many of you might be initially disappointed by what you see in this game. There are some jaggies on the planes you fly, there is fog to mask pop-up, and there is draw-in. Sky Odyssey is most certainly not one of those PS2 games that barrels out of the chute and smacks you between the eyes with its graphics. Instead, as you play you will begin to see the care and effort that has been placed on the little subtleties and graphical effects throughout the game like the various weather conditions, water and general particle effects. Little things like waves crashing against mountains, dust particles from rocks breaking away from cliff sides…its these little nuances that truly enhance the overall visuals of this title and prove to be its graphical saving grace here.
Now as far as the sound goes, for those of you that have your PS2s audio running through the optical cable dont get alarmed the first time you power up SO and dont get any sound. Thats right, SO does not support the optical audio out of the PS2. To get sound/music you must go through the red/white RCA jacks. Why the hell anyone would want to omit the optical out is totally beyond me but in this case they have…go figure.
Okay, once we rearranged our audio inputs we were finally ready to HEAR the full impact of the game…and what sweet music to our ears it was. The musical score creates a true feeling of serenity and surrealism as you are soaring majestically through the air. The sound effects also go a long way in completing the overall illusion of flight in this game.
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'Sky Odyssey' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
This review was written by Tom Rooney © Absolute PlayStation
Click here to view our 50 Sky Odyssey in-game screenshot slideshow
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