I fought in WWII don’t you know.
It seems that flight simulators have become all the rage on the dear little handheld. What with Flight Academy, Ace Combat, After Burner and the forthcoming Heatseaker there is a decent amount of choice. But all of those concentrate on modern warfare, where kills can be made from a mile away with a missile. Dog fighting is a distant memory with many such games. So enter Aces of War. A World War II based flight sim that promises to let you fly in 20 authentic aircraft across historically accurate campaigns.
Aces of War gets nothing terribly wrong.
Starting out you are presented with the option of flying the missions, training, free flight and collection. Collection is where you get to see medals and planes that you have unlocked. On selecting mission you can choose from 5 chapters to play. Obviously only chapter 1 will be available from the start. Chapter one follows the Japanese air force attacking pearl harbour and taking Wake Island. Once you have selected your mission you will be presented with a text based briefing, or as the games box would say a ?Matter ?of-fact briefing?.
From here you get to deploy the planes in your squadron and set up what each unit should be doing. This adds a certain strategy element to the game as you are able to tell individual units what kind of tactics they should employ. It should be noted though that it seems to make very little difference to how the mission unfolds!
After setting up the scene you need to set up your plane. You can choose from the available unlocked planes, which starts out as just a Japanese type 99 dive bomber. You will be given the option of certain armament set ups in some missions, such as carrying bombs or not. The final and possibly strangest part of the set up is your items. This is a kind of power up system that you can use to increase certain parts of your aircrafts abilities. On offer are; Attack Power, Defence Power, Control, Speed and Range. For a flight sim that boasts about its realism, this seems like a very strange inclusion.
Finally you are ready to fly your mission. From the get go it must be pointed out that you need to set the camera to be outside the plane, the cockpit view is just about unusable which is a real shame. Your aircraft handle surprisingly well. The analogue nub does controls pitch and roll with the shoulder buttons controlling your rudder. Throttle is controlled by X and Square with bombs on Triangle and guns on O. All of this works incredibly smoothly and is a real example of how simplified controls can work!
Missions consist mostly of destroying lots of things. The first mission has you destroying a fleet of battleships and an American HQ almost single handedly, which brings us to the major failing of Aces of War. It is damned hard. Taking out ground and sea targets is ok, once you are in the external view. Unlimited ammo does help, but what doesn’t help is the limited fuel tank. However what makes this really hard is the dog fighting. Yes dog fighting with guns is hard work, what with the need for leading in front of the target and all, but this is almost impossible. You can run out of fuel trying to take down just one place.
Graphically there is not much to say. Ground scenery is disappointingly un-detailed. Vehicle models are recognisable, but again the textures are very low res. However there are a pleasing number of planes to be unlocked and flown. Sonically the game is generally disappointing again. There is no speech, which in a modern game is a little bit of a poor show. The engine noises, explosions and the rest are all there, but nothing special.
Which kind of sums up the game. Nothing special. The controls are, to be fair, superb. But the actual game is just not fun. It is to hard in most places, especially with the fuel limit. Unlimited ammo but limited fuel! A plea to the developers, make up your mind, realistic sim or arcade blaster! You can’t have it both ways. Aces of War gets nothing terribly wrong, but on the same note there is nothing much here to recommend it.
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