I’ve always been more of the world championship winning, monster slashing kind of gamer. But with that being said, I set aside my “win championships and monster battles, not wars” mentality and gave Air Conflicts: Vietnam by Games Farm and bitComposer Entertainment A.G. a valiant try — a try that proved to be somewhat disappointing.
AC: V is an arcade flight game that is set in the Vietnam Era, and is based on the historically accurate situations from 1962-1975, as understood from our own current perspective. The game boasts over 20+ types of aircraft, including fighters, bombers, and choppers, single-player campaign mode, 3 multiplayer modes (Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and Capture The Flag), 4 levels of difficulty (Easy, Normal, Hard, and Navy Pilot), and Instant Battle, where you can immediately dive right into a dogfight and can choose aircraft, location, type of weather, and number of enemies. An auto-aim feature is also implemented in the game, but the degree of its usage is dependent upon the set level of difficulty, and is turned off altogether in multiplayer mode.
AC: V is basically a “pick up & play” type of aerial dogfighting game that had somewhat reminded me of the Ace Combat series. However, that little reminder quickly subsided after having accidentally slammed into an invisible grid of a wall in mid-air the first time, as there’s no free roaming of the skies, and yet it’s that same limitation that can be used in your favor against the CPU AI, as those same boundaries force enemy fighters to turn and can easily end up in your line of fire.
The campaign mode in AC: V tells the story of U.S. Navy pilot, Joe Thompson, who is trying to uphold the values of his country and has just realized that every war has two sides. The story of Joe and his squadron spans across 3 U.S. campaigns that are different periods of the Vietnam War. While in campaign mode, you have access to a list of available pilots that you can have in your squadron. You can only have 40 pilots maximum as part of your roster, but you can also get new pilots throughout the game. If any of your pilots are shot down, they can be later rescued in a rescue mission if they happen to go missing in action (MIA).
However, if they get killed in action (KIA), they are gone for good and cannot be rescued. Within campaign mode, there are two campaign types: operations and the aforementioned rescue missions. Operations are mandatory and represent various Vietnam operations and rescue missions are optional extra assignments that are available only once and when one of your squadron pilots goes MIA after a particular mission. Each mission allows you to switch on the fly between cockpits of your squadron aircraft, but this feature isn’t put to its optimal potential due to the repetitive and limiting missions themselves. The dogfights are really the best part of this game, considering that the long campaign quickly became boring and the transport helicopter missions are very tedious, forcing you to rely on mission replay and memorization more than actual skill and reaction time.
The graphics in AC: V look good for an Xbox 360 release, but the hillside and trees have a tendency of popping in. Plus, the game’s framerate tends to stutter and hiccup. Overall, it just doesn’t have that gritty, grimy look of the Vietnam War. The audio isn’t much better either. The voice-over talent is sub-par, especially in between mission cutscenes. And the background soundtrack is barely audible, but the music does coincide with that time period at least with some classic rock tunes.
The controls are quite responsive, but still felt jerky to me. You can adjust the flight control sensitivity to your liking, but I honestly didn’t find much to like. As for gameplay – just as I had mentioned before, dogfighting is the best part to AC: V and breaks up the repetitious monotony of the single-player campaigning. Multiplayer is decent and seemingly runs pretty smoothly.
Overall, I’d say that AC: V would probably have fared better with a little more polish; it just seems more could have been done with this title.
Platform: XBox 360
Developer: Games Farm s.r.o.
Publisher: bitComposer Entertainment A.G.
|Good graphics for an Xbox 360 release.|
|Average commentary and music leaves you wanting more.|
|Somewhat repetitive, but challenging nonetheless.|
|Despite a solid selection of aircraft, Air Conflicts: Vietnam felt more like an arcade shooter than a flight simulator.|