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Lethal Skies II
Review By: Greg Lynch
Developer:  Asmik Ace Entertainment
Publisher:  Sammy Studios
# Of Players:  1-2
Genre:  Flight Sim
ESRB:  Teen
Online:  No
Accessories:  iLink, Memory Card
Date Posted:  3-4-04

There is a fine line a developer must walk when creating a flight sim for console gamers. Finding the right balance between the realism required for attracting armchair pilots, and the arcade style gameplay necessary for console-based controls can spell the difference between greatness and utter failure. Asmik Ace Entertainmentís second foray into PS2 flight games is one of the lucky few that seem to have found that line, hitting all the right notes to make the game feel passably realistic while simplifying physics and gameplay for the action craving console crowd.  While the game may alienate some casual gamers, itís easily one of the best flying games available on a console.

Lethal Skies II starts by separating itself from the pack of similar games by offering a compelling storyline. Taking place in the near future following global war, you are a pilot for the Frontier Nations who flies to protect the world against a rival army bent on global domination. While the story may not sound particularly inspired at first glance, the way it unfolds over the course of the game results in a fairly interesting backdrop and is surprisingly well done. The end result is not only a more cohesive connection between globetrotting levels, but also gives the developers an ability to include new technology that is both plausible and futuristic at the same time. It is a very commendable job considering how dry most flight games can be.

Similarly, the game continues to strive for uniqueness by adding more of an arcade quality to the overall presentation. The menus are created with a dramatic flair, cut scenes are dynamic and reminiscent of action movies (as are the gameís fantastic replays), and the wailing of guitar-based rock music backs all of this up. The presentation will probably feel like familiar ground for fans of Segaís arcade simulations, but it also feels a little out of place when compared to the gameís pseudo-simulation gameplay.

A quick trip through some mission information and plane options will have you in the plane of your choosing. Controls remain fairly intuitive, and apart from some issues with the shoulder buttonís analog settings (press down to accelerate, crush it with all your might for afterburners), everything is easily utilized and accessed. Options allow you to choose your own sensitivity settings for the analog stick, but rather than using a slider for complete control there are merely settings for Normal, Quick, or Slow. There are also rudder controls that allow for slight horizontal adjustments without banking the plane, but ultimately I found their lack of sensitivity made them worthless for the most part.

The missions run the full spectrum of flight simulationís standard fare, and their design is well done for the most part. However, the casual gamer should be warned that even setting the game on its easiest difficulty will provide quite a challenge at points in the game. Of special note is the all-too-frustrating landing missions that will likely test both your patience and the durability of your controller as you throw it against the nearest wall. While the game eases the controls in almost every aspect, it fails to make landing anything more than an exercise in frustration. More often than not youíll find yourself bouncing off runways, driving off the edge, or just plain missing them thanks to little forgiveness in terms of level design and how you get to line up your approach. While there is a very basic tutorial on landing, it does little to help. 

Multiplayer is passable given the fact that you can only play two player games. The game features either split screen, or i.Link connection for multiple PS2s. The modes consist of the typical dogfight mode (which isnít particularly fun for two players in jets), and Time Trial. The Time Trial is divided into Gun Run, a race to see who can shoot down 16 fighters the fastest, and Snake Race, a race to see who can fly through a canyon and land in the least amount of time. While Gun Run can be a decent diversion, I donít think I need to mention the complete lack of fun in the uninspired Snake Race.

Graphically, the game is astounding. Weather effects, sparkling water, and aircraft design are all some of the best seen in the genre, and the frame rate stays silky smooth for the most part. If there can be any complaint, it would have to be that some of the land-based textures donít match up very well on close inspection. However, the problem is hardly noticeable as you fly over them at breakneck speed, and does little to detract from the overall presentation.

The gameís sound is also fantastic, featuring a lot of chatter between wingmen, loud explosions, realistic noises that vary between aircraft, and even environmental sound effects such as wind. The only place where audio falls short is in some of the gameís speech. The narration sounds fairly uninspired, and I found myself reminded of the generic announcer who did the voiceovers for most of Segaís games.


  • Excellent presentation
  • Fantastic graphics
  • Well designed missions with a few exceptions


  • Landing is so frustrating it will likely ruin the game for some
  • Analog shoulder buttons arenít very forgiving
  • Stale, uninspired narration
  • Game may be a little difficult for the casual gamer


Overall, Lethal Skies II is a great game for fans of either arcade or flight sims. It does an excellent job of catering to both crowds, while going a step further than the competition in terms of presentation. Casual gamers looking for a quick flying fix might be turned off a bit by the high level of difficulty, but anyone looking for a good flying game will likely find a good deal to like in this package.

Overall Score: 7.7

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