Saturday, September 19, 2009

Blazing good game

(I wrote this review on some game site because I really, really enjoy this game and it hasn't gotten the love it deserves!!)
This game has been a very pleasant surprise. My son bought it on a lark while we were out looking for one of those other $50 "A" games.

The first thing to be aware of about this game is that it is a challenge.
I like that in a video game, but young children would probably become frustrated with a game this difficult. Of the 20 missions in the main campaign of the game, there were many that I had to play multiple times to complete. The missions are challenging from the beginning and, still, they get harder and harder, so that the game remains engaging even after you have acquired some skill in it. Several missions introduce new skills and challenges, like landing a disabled plane or a high speed chase through a narrow crevasse. The campaign was just great and took me many hours over a couple of months to complete. (Granted, I have a job!)

Even once you've finished the campaign, you will want to go back and replay missions. One reason for this is that if you do particularly well on a mission you get a medal. All of the medals seem to be real historical American or English medals. I really liked that and the many other historical aspects of the game. All of the campaign missions themselves are historically based and in chronological order, and all begin with a short movie that has narration while showing an animated map of the main action. All of the planes are historical as well and include brief descriptions of the plane's reputation. Most of the planes are unlocked by advancing in the campaign. And another part of the fun is replaying the early missions with a later, more advanced craft.

In addition to the main campaign, there are the ace duels, arcade mode, and the mini-campaigns, each of which give various upgrades to the planes when completed successfully. And, of course, there is the head-to-head mode where you can dog-fight another player! (Split-screen, not on-line.)

There are many other great aspects to this game, like the wing-man commands, the follow camera, the ing and rocket missions. One thing I never tried is some of the alternate controller configurations -- some of which appear to be more realistic and maybe more difficult, but with better control I expect. For example, you can't really do barrel rolls with the default "arcade" controller configuration.

I like everything about this game. But I've got to reiterate the important thing: it is just plain a blast to play. ... And chase, and run, and blow up lots of stuff!