Developer: Silver Wish
Release Date: August 30, 2004
Wings of War, an air combat arcade game, was developed by Gathering, a Take-Two company. They are a good company to do such a title because they have a vast gaming repertoire, ranging from titles such as the Guy Game to Railroad Tycoon 3.
The title is set in the middle of World War I, and casts the player as an English pilot, Benjamin, who is stationed on the Western Front. Gathering did a wonderful job designing the missions to give the feel of flying over the horrors of the quagmire of WWI.
There are two major modes to the game, campaign mode and instant action mode; unfortunately, there was no multiplayer mode, and it was sorely missed.
In campaign mode, the developers divided each campaign into missions, with each mission consisting of a series of objectives that must be accomplished. The sheer number of objectives is amazing: the first mission has no less than 12 objectives. There is no way that any pilot could accomplish this many missions due to time constraints and a limited fuel tank, not to mention the stress of battle. Aside from this minor departure from realism in the mission objectives, the game is wonderful in the campaign mode. Even the number of objectives would not be so bad if it were not for the time it took to complete them. The objectives are non-linear, with some exceptions.
Instant action mode is what the multiplayer should have been, had it existed. The two sub-modes are deathmatch and team deathmatch, but since the player only fights against AI bots, it is a bit antisocial and gets boring. Something about playing solely against bots in a "multiplayer" mode has always felt wrong to me.
The controls of the game make perfect sense and feel comfortable to someone familiar with the Xbox controller. There is a small learning curve with the controls, but it was not so bad to play the game. I spent only the first 15 minutes of the beginning mission struggling with the controls. (Yes, I skipped the training missions.) Occasionally, I would be stumped by a certain set of controls, like the ones for taking pictures from the bomber. I was stuck trying to remember which button to push (the RED ONE, stupid!).
The graphics and level design are amazing, and I loved the ground and the airplanes because they looked so true-to-life. The sun was also annoying as all get out to my gamer eyes, which also adds to the game's realistic portrayals. There is no high-definition element to the game, which is a shame. Considering that the graphics are not high-definition, it is even more amazing to see how accurate they look.
The game, in general, does have some hokey arcade elements to it. If players shoot down certain artillery balloons, they get an engine or gun upgrade. Additionally, some objectives in a mission require a different airplane, and instead of flying back to the base and hopping on to another plane, the pilot literally jumps from one plane to the other in mid-air. I found this to be somewhat amazing, as the new plane has apparently been navigating airspace on its own. It's a touch implausible at times, but the cinematics are always amazing.
Wings of War is not a flight simulator, but the planes act as they should without a huge amount of time spent trying to figure out how to fly them. The game has some button combinations that allow for the executions of rolls, loops, and such, which was a nice feature and could make combat very simple.
With the lack of multiplayer, I was left with the impression that this game was incomplete. I believe that the game should have been developed a bit further to give onscreen, system link, and Xbox Live play options. It's a pity because I believe this game could become a very solid series, if there were only some form of multiplayer on it.
If you are looking for a good flyer and really do not need the multiplayer, then I would recommend picking up this affordable title. The campaign mode is outstanding and provides quite a few hours of fun and mayhem. Who can resist fun and mayhem? The lack of multiplayer severely hurts this title for me, but the cost helps ease some of the pain.
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