Take to the air for some arcade flight action.
The Air Conflicts games have been filling our skies for quite some time now. The latest one to take to the skies from bitComposer takes the player into the Vietnam conflict and hands them the keys to some perfectly good aeroplanes and helicopters. I can’t help but feel this was a mistake…
For the first time, the Air Conflicts games are taking their own style of arcade action to the skies during the Vietnam conflict, and charging the player with taking on various missions through the course of the conflict with a variety of different flying machines.
Players are first introduced to the different aircraft that they will be using during the game, complete with instruction on how to use them. This is important not only because some gamers, myself included, can’t fly for toffee, but also because the game introduces Helicopters for the first time in the series, and they are not exactly straight forward to control.
There are a variety of different input methods available, but the basic controller is where most players will settle. Controlling the selection of planes is fairly straight forward, it is standard stuff. But when it came to the helicopter, the right stick is actually used for movement, with the left stick involving itself with rolling and such. It simply felt wrong and left me dreading playing the Helicopter missions.
And the way that the missions are laid out means that avoiding the choppers altogether is not an option. Each mission is split into smaller scenarios in which the player will be controlling different aircraft, switching from one to the next through the mission. The missions made sense, with the switching between vehicles being logical, but this obviously means that the player doesn’t get to stay with any vehicle for long enough to truly master it.
The missions begin as being fairly varied, especially with the switching. There are an amazing number of different things you can do with an aircraft. However, it is not long into the game that scenarios start repeating, asking the player to do similar things and the game starts to get a little repetitive. The main campaign is reasonably long, but many players will lose interest before reaching the end.
Part of the problem is the lack of immersion for the player. There is a story in Air Conflicts: Vietnam which follows the players’ character from the beginning to the end of the conflict, and there are times when the moral side of the conflict is questioned. But none of this is particularly involving or interesting for the player. It may raise an eyebrow, but that will quickly drop to its normal position once the players starts on the next mission.
Visually, Air Conflicts: Vietnam doesn’t look too bad. The different aircraft, of which there are quite a few, all look nice and authentic, if not to perhaps the highest level of detail. And it is in the detail that the game is lacking, leaving things looking decidedly last gen. This isn’t a triple A title, so the lack of triple A visuals is acceptable. But there is also a lack of polish across the entire game that is not as forgivable.
And then there is the multiplayer component. Multiplayer is quite easy to get into, providing plenty of other players can be found. There are a few different modes to enjoy once the player has chosen from the wide range of aircraft and loadouts available. Fighting against other players in the air is great fun, with the games’ problems simply not being as much of a big deal. However, it is very dependent on the size of the community.
Aircraft combat games are not my strong point, and I am sure that more accomplished flyboys will have greater success with the trickier side of Air Conflicts: Vietnam. However, there is no denying the helicopter controls have been made far too complex and will be a sticking point for even the veteran Air Conflicts players. The single player campaign lasts a decent while, but the pure fun of the multiplayer will keep players coming back, for as long as the community stays alive. Of course, players will first have to overcome the hurdle of Air Conflicts: Vietnam being unpolished and repetitive. But if you are a fan of the Air Conflicts games, or just fancy some dogfighting in a Vietnam setting, it may be worth having a look at.