You can always go... DOWNTOWN!In Heatseeker you play the role of a new pilot, callsign ‘Downtown’ (perhaps a reference to ‘Flight Of The Intruder’?), who rolls up at a training base in a shiny new F-22 just in time for an all-out attack by a bunch of local rebels... Rebels who are so well funded and equipped that they can send wave after wave of fighters, attack boats, supply ships, missile boats and even aircraft carriers against you. To fend off these attacks you have an array of aircraft, each fortunately having unlimited ammo in the form of missiles, bombs and guns... oh and rockets.
Yep, make no mistake, Heatseeker is pure arcade flight action. If you think along the lines of that arcade classic ‘Afterburner’, you’ll be getting the right idea. However, unlike Afterburner, Heatseeker, tips a much bigger nod towards real-life flying. So no, you can’t launch off a volley of 10 missiles at once and nor can you do a bombing run dropping 20 bombs in one go... you’re flying a one or two seat fighter, not a B52!
Air to air combat is simplistic for anyone who’s played a flight sim, even pre-missile sims like MS Combat Flight Sim or IL2, but Heatseeker nicely strikes the balance between realism and arcade fun by having range limits on your missiles and forcing you to lock-on and stay locked on to a target to take it down. By far the fastest way to take out a bogey is to get within range and use your missiles but sometimes you’ll find yourself too close to maintain a lock, so this is where your ‘planes cannons come in, though these can overheat quite quickly meaning you can’t just hose down the surrounding airspace, you have to aim.
The variety of planes on offer at first seem to be nothing more than window dressing to keep you amused but once you actually get up in the sky in an F-15 you realise how different this feels to the A4 you were just in... which feels completely different to the F-22 you started in... the F/A-18 or even the F-117A... and that’s not to mention the MiGs you’ll capture and be able to use too. Each aircraft has different handling and speed qualities as well as different weapon load-outs. Obviously with this being an arcade game, which plane you choose doesn’t majorly impact your chances of success unless you are a complete tit and pick the Stealth Bomber for a dogfight mission, in which case you deserve to get your ass kicked for being that dumb.
Running behind all this dogfighting is a storyline that gradually unfolds as you complete each mission. So you kick off at the training base and then transfer to a carrier before hopping all over the world, tracking down a master criminal/terrorist organisation. Along the way you’ll gain access to the new aircraft and collect wingmen who’ll help you in the battle to combat global terrorism... Hoorah! and all that...