Air Conflicts: Vietnam isn’t going to defy expectations, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time. As straightforward as its title, it’s what you see is what you get. The simplicity of the game is refreshing, but after playing I’m not sure if there’s enough extras and variation to keep things interesting.
Cue the introduction movie where we are given political reasons for the U.S. to take an interest in Vietnam and a bit of personal background for one of the recruits who has been sent over. Then we are shown a pre-mission screen where we preview the type of planes that will be flown in the next stage. The tutorial is comprehensive but not overlong, and quickly we see that there have been a few corners cut on the game.
I am able to recognize different components of an airplane, so when the game insists that my ailerons are what lift the plane I was a bit skeptical. Ailerons are what allow the plane to bank while elevators lift the plane. What must be realized while playing Air Conflicts is that realism has to go out the window. There is no option to rotate the plane on a flat axis using the rudder, but this game is about flying fast and shooting guns, so the more finesse aspects of flying are not available.
Some of the flying techniques that are available to fighter jets are also available to cargo planes, meaning it’s possible to do a pretty dramatic barrel roll in a C-130 cargo plane. While planes seem to have gotten a simplification, helicopters are a bit of a mess. For those of us with experience with flight simulators, you’ll know that a helicopter’s tilt is directly correlated to its direction of movement.
But it’s not correlated here.
I played this game using an Xbox controller. I played with the controls to get it set up but couldn’t get it set in a configuration that made sense. One joystick controlled direction of movement while the other controlled tilt, causing a few moments of physics-defying flying where I could tilt forward yet move backward.
So after that dissection of controls, what’s left? Well, you get to fly things around and shoot big guns. Don’t underestimate the enjoyment that comes out of shooting big guns.
The mission structures aren’t too creative, but there’s only so much you can do with a strictly air-based game. High points were the moments of rail-shooting where you’d take on the role of a helicopter gunner, shooting ground troops and launching grenades at mobile AA vehicles. It’s a somewhat vanilla experience, but it makes for a nice change of place from “go here, shoot that.”
The visuals are passable, certainly not winning any awards but they get the job done. I ran into trouble when flying low against targets on fire, where it’s easy to lose bearings among the flames and the dark green color palette doesn’t help much. Like I opened with, this game won’t defy your expectations on how a game set in Vietnam should look.
The sounds are a bit varied in quality. The guns are satisfying, but the dying yelp of a pilot sounds way too much like a guy at a desk doing his best to make a dying yelp sound. The songs are just as varied, since some are nerve-grating in their frank anti-war vocals, and other are catchy and fun.
The story is a bit of a patchwork of politically-charged statements and personal vignettes. There is a neat aspect in that your pilots have names and skills. The more you use a pilot, the better skilled he becomes. If you lost a non-essential pilot during a mission he becomes MIA, which can be painful if you’ve been using him exclusively. The ability to quick-switch to any other of your pilots lessens the severity of the loss of a plane, but AA guns can make quick work of an entire crew if you’re not careful.
I can’t say that I would recommend this game to anyone who doesn’t have an explicit interest in either the Vietnam War or flying, but anyone who doesn’t set their expectations too high could have fun in the quick and dirty dogfights that are the centerpiece of Air Conflicts: Vietnam.
(Reviewed on PC, review code provided by Bitcomposer. Thank you)
ONLY SINGLE PLAYER SCORE
Story – 5/10
Gameplay/Design – 6.5/10
Visuals – 4/10
Sound – 5/10
Lasting Appeal – 6/10
Overall – 6/10
(Not an average)
Developer: Games Farm
Publisher: bitComposer Games
Ratings: ESRB: T