Air Conflicts Secret Wars
Reviewer: GTL Admin
Release Date: 2011-09-27
Publisher: Kalypso Media
Wed 23 Nov 11
Whereas it took upwards of twenty years for some of the postwar jet technology to mature, during WWII designers had mere months to test, implement and produce innovations in flight engine and design technology in an all-out effort to win the war. It’s this captivation of the rapid changes in technology that you’ll get to experience with Kalypso Media’s latest simulator title: Air Conflicts: Secret Wars.
Air Conflicts: Secret Wars is a combat flight simulator with battles spanning across World War I and II and features seven full campaigns along with forty-nine engaging missions in a mix of mission types including patrolling, stealth, hit and run, escort and bombing runs. The campaigns are based on resistance movements of the Second World War and take you from the Siege of Tobruk to the Operation Belt in Poland fighting for the causes of groups such as the People's Liberation Army and Partisan Detachments of Yugoslavia, The Polish Armia Krajowa, and the French Maquis.
Through this you play as the main character, DeeDee Derbec whose father was a WWI pilot and has been raised by her father's friend Tommy so, of course, has some fledgling flying skills which you're going to develop during the missions. At the start of WWII DeeDee and Tommy are caught up in the frenzy and take advantage of the situation by flying missions for the Allies as a mercenary. The story that carries the player along is told as a graphic novel, instead of cut scenes that are normally used in most games which adds a nostalgic atmosphere.
There are two flight modes in an arcade style of flight controls and a simulation mode although in both modes the view is third person behind the wings. In arcade mode the aileron control is taken care of for you which makes flight much easier and considerably less challenging. This can be offset by pegging the difficulty setting up to Ace. On the simulation mode setting the controls are a little over sensitive so they need adjusting in the settings but provides a more realistic flight.
The difficulty of the missions start off slow to allow you time to get used to the controls and picks up some of the tricks of the game. While you improve and are more successful in the missions you're rewarded with more interesting and complicated missions with, of course, better compensatory pay. As you progress newer and better planes are unlocked with unique weapons and payloads pursuant to the make of model, however, the performance and handling of the planes aren't as different from each other as you would expect. Your personal flight skills can be upgraded as well and you decide where to place the points to focus on a particular area.
Some hard core flight enthusiasts may get turned off by the arcade nature of the game but, in my opinion, the automatic weapons loads, easy landings and takeoffs, relaxed handling and automated shooting reticule add to the enjoyability of the game, reducing frustration levels while complementing the story line.
The flight environment seemed a little claustrophobic to me and was warned on several occasions that I was flying out of the operations area and had to return even though I was around a combat area. The game engine also stalls you out if you try to fly too high – the Spitfire has a service ceiling of close to 35,000 feet and there was no way the game was going to let me get close to that which is quite a shame since some of the best WWII battle took place that high. This also limits some of the maneuvers that you can perform that require a lot of vertical space or complicated twists and turns which brings us back to the arcade nature of the game.
The environmental graphics are rendered with enough detail to provide visual clues for flight and ground combat operations but don't expect beautiful landscapes. After all, you aren't traveling on the ground and it's supposed to be whizzing by at 250+ knots anyway. You do get a chance to fly through realistic cloud cover and I could almost swear that enemy planes lost track of me allowing a tight break or immelmann maneuver to get the upper hand on them. Also, as one would expect, flying into the sun does create enough glare that prevents you from clearly seeing your surrounding or enemy planes. There's a damage meter that displays the amount of damage your aircraft has sustained but you tell this anyway by the look of your plane as it gets riddled with bullet or anti-aircraft holes. If you're having difficulty shooting down a particular enemy you can hit the "Adrenaline" button which slows down the combat allowing you to a aim more precisely – a pretty neat feature that will come in handy in several missions.
After you've played through all the missions and mastered the controls it's time to go online with up to eight friends, although, you will need to bring your own friends as this reviewer was only able to find one other player at any time online. If you do manage to find someone you'll get to battle it out as enemies or wingmen in Dogfight, Team Dogfight, Capture the Flag and Destroy & Protect multiplayer online gameplay. The online feature has the potential to expand the game beyond the inline story and allow you to experience and experiment with some of the best aircraft that WWII had to offer.
Air Conflicts: Secret Wars is a visually attractive game that keeps you engaged in the storyline while relieving you from some of the more mundane tasks of air combat operations with its balanced arcade and simulation style of gameplay. Having the opportunity to take wing with some of the most remarkable aircraft of the Second World War is something that can't be passed up even though there are some shortcomings on the simulation side. Air Conflicts: Secret Wars is not your usual war combat flight simulator which you'll quickly realize as you play the game.
GameTestLab received a copy of this game from Kalypso Media for review purposes