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Savage Skies
Review By:  Jared Black
Developer:  iRock Entertainment
Publisher:  Bam!
# of Players:  1-2
Genre:  Flying/Action
ESRB:  Mature
Online:  No
Accessories:  Memory Card
Date Posted:  5-30-02

Remember that Ozzy Osbourne game people started talking about a year or so ago? Well it’s finally out…kinda. See this is that game, but along the way Mr. Bat Biter was dropped. Can’t say I’m disappointed, as the concept was just weird (Ozzy on a dragon?). Unfortunately it’s pretty obvious that this game was developed with the idea of having that gimmick to fall back on, because losing Ozzy seemed to kill any personality the game had.

The story is that a war has erupted between three different kingdoms…and it’s fought primarily on the backs of fantastical flying creatures. Dragons, griffons, and other beasts pulled from popular myth are all here, in fact there’s 24 total creates in all. Each has different kinds of attacks to use, but they all function in virtually the same way. Which ones you get to pilot is determined by which campaign you take, which there are three of that break down into the easy, medium, and hard ones.

Each of the 25+ missions is structured just like you’d find in any other flying game, with primary & secondary objectives. A number of power-ups can be found throughout each level, boosting weapon abilities, restoring health, granting special powers, etc. Games of this sort really hinge on enemy AI, and it’s here that Savage Skies falters. Virtually all enemies attack using the same methods, either head-on for stationary/ground units or attempting to get behind the player for airborne ones. Resulting dog(dragon)fights are nothing more than circling and firing…circling and firing…circling and firing. That gets dull pretty fast, especially when coupled with…

…some very boring graphics. Savage Skies serves up your average medieval fantasy world, complete with castles, fantastical beasts, and rolling landscapes. Flyable creatures all look generic, with low-res texture work and simple models that merely make the creature recognizable and nothing more. The environments being fought in are also pretty generic. Sparse use of landmarks and other ground objects combined with a low-res look to everything quickly bores the player, and the use of fogging certainly shouldn’t be necessary in a game this simple. It’s not a bad graphics package, but the overall design is very basic and the technical execution isn’t on par with most other PS2 efforts.

I’m assuming they originally had a soundtrack lined-up consisting of Ozzy songs, and in that respect this one shines (can you tell I’m not a fan of his work yet?). In the place of Ozzy’s music is generic simplified guitar stuff. This weird combination of fantasy world and rock music reminds me of the movie "A Knight’s Tale" (you know, the Heath Ledger one) more than anything else. As a result it’s mildly entertaining for a while, but hearing the same riffs over and over and over gets old fast. Some of the sound effects are impressive (especially the splat of a dying flying creature) and the narrator is amusingly bad, but for the most part they’re nothing special.

HIGHS:

  • Good selection of creatures.
  • A ton of missions, with some creative objectives.
  • The story is cheesy…in a good B movie way.

LOWS:

  • Dull battles. The same tactics are used throughout every mission…no strategy needed.
  • Generic guitar riffs that get old fast.
  • Bland world, bland creature design, fogging, and poor texture work everywhere. It doesn’t look horrendous, but it’s no Ico either.

FINAL VERDICT:

I’m not an Ozzy fan by any means, but in a way I almost wish he was in this game. At least then it’d have some personality. The departure of Ozzy took all of this game’s soul with it, and the result is a very stale experience. It’s not a bad game, but it’s just too dull to hold your attention for long.  Slightly below average, just like the score says.

Overall Score: 4.6

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