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Wing Island: Extended Playtest
Written by James Hobbs

Wing Island is a curious game. We got our hands on an unfinished, pre-release version, but with the impending release of the title on the 23rd of February, it will be interesting to see just how much the game has changed. There's one crucial element that is lacking from Wing Island, and it does somewhat sour the experience as a whole - speed.

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Chocks away
It's noticeable from the minute you start the training mode - there's a certain importance lacking from the whole proceedings, which is exacerbated by the slow pace of the game. Whilst the controls are initially quite good, with the Wii remote performing fairly responsively to turns and twists, as you progress through the missions it becomes increasingly apparent that it doesn't really work that well in enclosed spaces. This obviously isn't a problem if you're coursing high above the islands, but many of the missions require you to navigate arches and tunnels, and the controls are simply too sluggish.

In Wing Island, you play an avian pilot working for Wing Inc - a flight company run entirely by birds. Rather strange, but there is a certain charm to the characters, as inconsequential as they might be. In the main game, you are required to fulfil certain tasks given to you by your beaked overlord, ranging from firing nets onto escaped cows, to destroying objects with bombs. Unfortunately, as far as we've seen, that's pretty much it, and whilst initially these tasks are fun, they quickly become tiresome. The slow speed of the planes is made worse by your accompanying wingmen, who do little except get in your way, particularly in tight spaces. All too often we found ourselves attempting to turn before being hindered by the accompanying planes. On missions where time is short, which is most of them, this makes for a fairly frustrating experience.

Graphically, the game seems fairly unfinished at this stage. High above the island, it's not too bad, and the game runs at a nice smooth rate, but zooming down onto the island exposes the horrible, almost sprite-like entities that populate the island. The texturing is poor, the water doesn't look even vaguely convincing, and the game lacks a certain polish and style that would improve the experience immeasurably.

Having said that, the simple act of flying is undeniably fun, ignoring the missions. The Wii remote is used horizontally as a pointer, and tilted to move the plane. A flick of the remote allows you to performing a 180 degree turn, which is useful, and it is pleasant to simply fly around the islands themselves.

There's clearly work to be done on this game, and it's a testament to it's potential that I'm still looking forward to playing the final version. It's no Pilotwings yet, but Hudson have the chance to create what could be a gloriously enjoyable flying experience.

We'll be bringing you more coverage of this game very soon.

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