I have a terrible habit of buying things with the best intention, and then never using them. This is usually the case for Video Games (I’m looking at you Steam), Kindle Books, and Digital comics. But as I still own them, I may as well take the opportunity to finally force myself to look at them.
While discussing my extensive (and extensively unplayed) game library with my friend, we will call him Ronald McDonald, he came up with the idea for a series of videos where I try to explain myself out of the hole of self pitty as I answer the question of ‘Why did I buy this?’
I really liked the idea, but don’t have time to make videos, so I thought I’d post it on here instead in the form of some reviews.
So anyway here goes:
First Impressions (are everything)
So, this is what happens when you push a mobile game onto a PC.
This was the game that started it all (well this series of blog posts, anyway), and it was a free-to-play game, so perhaps not the greatest example of something I bought and regretted. Maybe I’m going to be too harsh about this, because it was a free afterall, but ‘Oh what a mess’.
I don’t tend to trust a game that has a higher ram usage than storage space requirement.Harsh, but fair… I think.
Me and Ronald found this game during a video chat where I was describing to him my crazy number of steam games that have gone unplayed, and he was explaining how he had recently become interested in dogfighting flight simulators, preferably during the World War 2 Era. The only surprise to me was that it had taken him 26 Years to discovered this was a genre of game designed for him, but I humoured his interest and even suggested I would try one with him sometime.
Well, he found one pretty quick, one that I couldn’t really refuse to try: Warplanes: WW2 DogFight.
I knew what I was getting into because of the crazy small download package for the game. Coming in at a massive 95mb, I knew that this was going to be a game worth wasting my SSD write limit on (look it up). In general I don’t tend to trust a game that has a higher ram usage than storage space requirement. There are exceptions to the rule, such as Prison Architect and Rimworld, but I find it a pretty good rule of Thumb.
Starting The Game
To be fair to the developer(s), the opening screens of the game feel far better than they have a right to feel. And I suspect that 94 of the 95mb download files cover the menus and audios of the game. There is a surprisingly good voice over, introducing you to the opening mission, and I was impressed when you had the option to choose the country you want to fly for.
However, first impressions aside, you then actually start to fly the plane.
I should note, this game hilariously is classed as a simulation game, when I would argue it is little more than a 1990s shareware demo that belongs on a disk that came for free with a PC gaming magazine. I’m a very causal fan of flight simulation games, usually not war games admittedly, and I’m not sure the last time I played a war game where I flew a plane. However, I feel like I know generally what I’m looking for from a flying game.
This is not it.
Don’t let that excite you too much though, as that makes it sound way more fun that it actually is.
The controls are conveniently displayed in the top right of the screen for the entire first mission, and I can assume subsequent missions. This is the first thing that tipped me off that this may have been designed as a mobile game. As for the actual controls, I couldn’t even really figure out what any of the buttons did. I did discover however that you can control the plane with any combination of buttons and mouse movements. However this feels akin to an old space style shooter like asteroids, but in 3 dimensions. Don’t let that excite you too much though, as that makes it sound way more fun that it actually is. It is a rare case of a game where you could strip away the (cheap) graphics and see that you are just a dot of a mouse floating in a void. Of course, most shooting games are the same, in reality, but it is rare to play one that feels like it might actually be better if that was the case, and for one to feel that way so easily and quickly. (Note 1)
When we get to shooting, things really start to get boring.
The shooting mechanics make little sense when it comes to a flying game, but that isn’t to say I haven’t seen similar things in some AAA games like battlefront. The left mouse button shoots your front machine guns, and your right mouse button zooms in for a better shot. The zooming in frustrates me, as it isn’t like it really makes much sense from inside the cockpit of a plane, but the biggest error here is the auto-aimer.
When you hold the right button your camera effectively soft-locks to the target. This means it doesn’t move you physically but your weapons will be aimed at the closest target while you are holding the mouse button down. This is crazy considering the guns on the planes are fixed at a forward position, so are obviously shooting at some kind of physics bending angles. The other issue this brings up however is that you can just hold down the right mouse button for the entire game, and it will auto-lock as soon as target is in range, while jumping out of targeting mode when nothing is in range. With the lack of any type of ammo (at the earliest level at least), though admittedly the guns may overheat or something, you could effectively just hold down right click, move your mouse around and hold down left click when you see an enemy.
And finally we come to the cheap animations.
I wasn’t surprised, after my initial experience in the game, to see that that the death animations for enemy ships consisted of nothing more than a ball of fire, and explosion. It also appeared to be the same each time, though I have hope that perhaps there is one animation per type of ship that is destroyed. Not a lot of hope, but some. It would have been nice to see a variety of animations here as it would add a little to the game. Ships receiving damage and falling to the floor before exploding, for example, would add a lot as an alternative animation – and I don’t see it being that difficult to implement. Again, perhaps this is something that gets better later in the games progression, or if you pay for the premium content. (Note 2)
TO BE FAIR (AKA: Notes)
I watched a couple of videos of people playing the game, and it looks far better at the later game than it does in the earlier game. I think this is a mistake, because you want to draw people in. However I still don’t think its the game for me.
The simplistic control scheme really kills it for me, and I really think they could have a done a lot to make the game feel more exciting in the opening level – even if this was then peeled back at the end of the first mission. I just didn’t feel like the game was engaging, or exciting in any way.
In terms of other stuff I missed by not pushing forward…
The game appears to include some base management functions that look like they could add a bit to the game. This includes upgrades to your planes, their weapons, and plenty of skins and cosmetic upgrades too.
- (Note 1) On closer inspection, the game feels much better when played with a controller. All my points still stand, because I feel the controls need a lot of work to make the game feel more… involved, than it currently is.
- (Note 2) It does appear that each ship has its own death animation, to an extent, and some of these include the ship falling a bit before exploding. However, I stand by my point that these should be randomised, to create a better illusion.
I’m sorry for being so negative about this game, I didn’t really know what to expect, I suppose, but I really hoped for more than I got.
If it is any consolation, maybe its a game that needs some time to grow on you. There are dozens of great reviews on Steam, and it does hold a mostly positive rating overall – which is impressive considering how brutal steam reviewers can be. However among the reviews I was concerned to hear that the game thrives around a F2P (pay-to-win) model.
Can it be fixed?
Lean into the graphical limitations you’ve set yourself, and make the world more cartoony, removing the grain and instead going for full washes of bright colours, think borderlands style. Make it a bit like a comic book, and you will have a nicer looking game.
Move the camera into the cockpit, because this will hide your dodgy aiming and flying mechanics a little, and also hide more of your graphic problems and obscure the animations a little. I think the game would be more difficult, but also more forgiving to look at, because of it.
Price Paid: £0.00 (Approximately: Nothing)
Time spent: 6 minutes
Value for Money: Excellent
Value for Time: Non-existent
Star Rating: 0
Would I recommend: Maybe (Given the notes)