From a graphical perspective, Lethal Skies II is an incremental improvement over its predecessor. The aircraft are obviously where Asmik spends the majority of the PlayStation 2's power, as the aircraft feature an almost meticulous level of detail. The aircraft come complete with moving wings, ailerons, and rudders. There is evident heat wash from engines, visible vapor trails from wingtips when appropriate speeds are reached, and noticeable battle damage. Though some ground textures appear flat and blurry, upon close inspection, the environments are generally big, believable, and varied, and they are occasionally married with some decent weather effects--though the weather rarely affects more than your visibility. The only real complaints that can be lodged against the graphics in Lethal Skies II are that the models are a little jaggy and that some of the explosions look kind of flat and fake, and this can cause some choppiness in the frame rate when witnessed from a close proximity.
From the initial whine as you begin takeoff, to the full-bore scream as you cut through the sky, each plane has a distinct sound.
The in-game graphics look good overall, but where Lethal Skies II really distinguishes itself is in its presentation. Menus are flashy and dynamic, with lots of movement and bold designs, lending the game some serious arcade flavor. The prerendered cutscenes are also quite astonishing, not so much for their technical aptitude but for the wholly unique style in which they are rendered. Though everything is realistically proportioned, the textures have a hand-painted look to them that makes the cutscenes look like WWII battle paintings that have come to life. The effect is truly a breathtaking one.
When attempting to cobble together a passably realistic world composed of polygons and particle effects, sound is important in sustaining that illusion--and Asmik obviously recognizes this. From the initial whine as you begin takeoff, to the full-bore scream as you cut through the sky, each plane has a distinct sound. Comments from your wingmen and opposing forces come through in an appropriately crackly, tinny sound--though the number of phrases at their disposal is limited. Various beeps, buzzers, and alarms help further immerse you in the cockpit of your aircraft. Though there's little music readily associated with flight combat, save for Kenny Loggins' "Danger Zone," Lethal Skies creates a cohesive soundtrack that alternates between jangley, blues-infused rock and full-on, ax-wailing metal.
Where the game really differentiates itself from its predecessor is in its presentation.
From top to bottom, Lethal Skies II is a well-crafted, entirely satisfactory arcade-style flight combat game--much like its predecessor. In fact, Lethal Skies II is so much like its predecessor, in so many significant ways, it's largely the same game. If you're new to the series or to flight combat, or you just couldn't get enough of the original Lethal Skies, you should be able to jump into Lethal Skies II, no questions asked. However, if Lethal Skies left you wanting more, it's worth approaching this sequel with a bit of caution.