Set during the Second World War, as most flight action sims are, Air Conflicts: Secret Wars takes an unconventional approach where narrative is concerned. Instead of having you play as the decorated war hero, you are instead dropped into the boots of greenhorn pilot, Dorothy “DeeDee” Derbec. Since her father, the great Guillaume Derbec, went M.I.A during the Great War, the young mademoiselle has pursued a nomadic life in search for the truth behind his disappearance.
In doing so, she becomes acquainted with Tommy Carter, an old friend of Guillaume and ex-RAF pilot, who takes DeeDee under his wing. The two of them travel the world picking up odd jobs just to keep themselves in the sky. However, when war breaks out, they are inevitably drawn in, though not for political reasons; wherever the Nazi war machine is present, there is profit to be made.
Each of the seven campaigns are situated in different locations during the Second World War, beginning with Tobruk, Libya before moving through Europe and finally concluding in Berlin with the fall of Third Reich. It doesn’t take long to identify Air Conflicts cyclical gameplay structure; executing a bombing run a German compound is fun the first few times, but forcing players to carry out the exact same objective on a different map and dissimilar building begins to grind. As we know there is nothing worse than experiencing everything a game has to offer in the first ten minutes.
Aside from blowing up ground targets, you will also be delivering payloads and locating specific landmarks as well as blundering your way through Secret Wars’ stealth sections. The only satisfying gameplay to be had is during dogfights; often intense and requiring a moderate level of skill, these airborne skirmishes are by far the highlight of the experience.
Air Conflicts makes use of four individual control schemes, two designated to the Dualshock 3, the others making use of the PlayStation Move technology. If you are of more of a fan of first person shooters, the “arcade” control pattern allows for accessible gameplay without having to worry about advanced techniques. There is also an option to enable simulator controls, allowing greater freedom of movement though sacrificing precision and comfort in the process. Selecting the Move simulator pattern effectively transforms your controller into a flight stick, which is great fun to begin with, however, there is no calibration option or way of adjusting sensitivity which is a real let down.[drop2]Visual quality also fails to live up to what one would expect, even from a budget retail release. Although a lot of attention has been put into the design of the planes themselves, environments are poorly done, carrying the same lack of diversity and overall polish present in Air Conflicts’ gameplay. With that said nearly all building are fully destructible; lighting effects have also been handled nicely as well as cloud and water textures.
Sounds effects aren’t bad, though they won’t turn any heads either. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Secret Wars’ voice-work; it’s a common practice in video games for voice actors to assume more than one role, but having the same actor voicing both halves of the same conversation, alternating between accents, is something quite special.
- The narrative has its occasional highlights.
- Will last at least 6-7 hours if you find yourself drawn in.
- Dogfights are still pretty fun.
- Laughable voice acting.
- Stiff controls.
- Repetitive objectives from the get go.
- Dated graphics.
- Under-developed online component.
Air Conflicts simply fails to take off. With the gameplay growing stale within a space of ten minutes, it’s unlikely that many will make it to credit sequence, not to mention the sub-par graphics and cringe-inducing voice acting. If you’re a die-hard fan of 20th century fighter planes, it will spin a few hours of enjoyment, but for everyone else this is a game which should probably be left in the hangar, despite its friendly launch price.