While the principle of this game is sound, good intuitive controlls and some interesting set peiece missions it is at best an arcade style time waster - usefull for a few hours but if you are stuck with it for a weekend or even a long haul flight you will soon tire of its limited scope and vision. The gameplay has a lot of potential and as a base vehicle it is disapointing that it has fallen so far short of its potential. Each of the missions and lessons introduce a different aircraft and era of flight, giving a hugh scope spanning world war one bi and tri-planes through to present day ground attack and fighter planes, unfortunately you will only get this one mission to use each of these planes and eras. Where the game could have redemed ityself would be in its multiplayer mode had the designers made the simple step of adding computer players so that a player on thier own could utilize the multiplayer options this game would have had near limitless potential. Sadly the developers stopped one short of a cracking good product. In short great gameplay- intuitive controls - good selection of aircraft - hugh span of time - ultimately limited unnecissarily by not having repeat playability.
Lets get big the negative out the way to start with. The load times are very bad. From the PSP menu to playing a game takes an amazingly long one minute 55 seconds. Restarting the current map takes 15 seconds. It is simply not possible to have a "quick blast". Alas this is an issue with the PSP more than just this game.
The graphics are lovely. Clear pictures of blue sky, cities and wildlife, the only faults I can come up with for the graphics are - No cockpit mode, not quite enough stuff in a city and the wildlife is not animated. The lack of a cockpit might annoy some hard-core flight sim fans but the wildlife is just me being picky. The lack of stuff in a city does let the game down a little, but only a little. The buildings which do exist are well placed, and nicely modelled, and give the impression of a city and not a grey blocky texture on the ground.
I was pleasantly surprised with the controls. I was expecting either every button to be doubled up, or the controls to be too simple. Instead we have a great mix, only one button is doubled up (the start button is both flap control, and landing gear up/down). The controls take almost no time to get use to and more importantly work well. They could do with some improvement, or at least an extra few keys, the flaps are a three-state toggle. Not a large problem on its own, but mixed with the shared start key it does mean that sometimes instead of bringing the gears down I switch the flaps to "normal flight" instead of "landing".
It does not have enough training missions; it jumps from a single engine training aircraft to a jet, with no missions between explaining the difference. It has 19 post training "missions" (9 civilian, 10 military), and 10 "Challenges" just enough to make the game worth buying, but not enough to completely satisfy.
The music is fine but bland background music. Does not make you want to run out and buy the album, or turn it off and get and MP3 player out. The in game effects are adequate, and the voice overs do the job.
Do I recommend this game? I know this is a bit of a cop-out, but what are you after? If it is a hard-core flight simulator, then the PSP is the wrong platform. This might get you by when you are away from Microsoft Flight Simulator X, but it is no replacement. An arcade flight sim, you would be better off with Ace Combat X, while this has dog fights and military missions, it does not have many.
A mix of the two, or a light flight sim to waste away a lazy Sunday afternoon this is your game. It is simple to pick up and play and great fun without being too easy.
Immerse into a new genre of air combat video games. Pilot Academy, a commercial, private and military flight simulation offers both single-player missions, challenges and multi-player aerial combat and delivers the most authoritative simulation ever seen on a handheld. The game is built upon staggering technology and realism and features detailed landscapes from 30,000ft down to landing. With three regions to explore, each around 64km square, this handheld flight sim packs significantly more than its home console counterparts. Beginning with a selection of training exercises to familiarise yourself with the controls, the game then moves straight into a series of increasingly challenging missions. Boasting a wide range of aircraft from all generations, Pilot Academy gives you the opportunity to fly the Boeing 747, Spitfire, F-117 Nighthawk, A-10A Thunderbolt II plus an F-14 Tomcat amongst many others. Controls offer the complexity of piloting a range of aircraft without insisting players are double-jointed plus Pilot Academy provides specific vocal instructions for those who veer off course. Up to four players can take part in three different multiplayer games with the 'Deathmatch' mode available to any PSP owner whether they own a copy of the game or not. Four eras of combat plane are represented from World War I through World War II and The Cold War to modern-day combat each with their own challenges. All types and sizes of civilian planes are on offer from crop sprayers to massive 300-seater passenger jets and everything in between with appropriate challenges for each class. Stunt aircraft will test dexterity whilst commercial aircraft will demand other skills such as emergency landings in fierce conditions.