by Ingvi Snædal
reviewed on PC
Stick to What You know
Videogames have made some pretty big claims in the past. Some live up to them, others fail to produce even the slightest sample of what the marketing team had promised to the consumers. Air Aces: Pacific is a game that takes the latter to the next step. It not only fails to produce the advertised quality, but the features listed as the game’s main attractions are fictional at best. Air Aces: Pacific is developed by Wastelands Interactive, a development company based in Poland, that has been making a name for itself within the niche circle of Turn Based Strategy gamers. This is their first attempt to break out of their comfort zone and if the quality of this game is a true representation of their abilities, they should stay right where they are.
The company has been developing their main title, Bitter Glory, since its launch in 2006 but has released side projects such as World War 2: Road to Victory and Storm over the Pacific along the way. Air Aces: Pacific is one of those side projects and was said to feature realistic aerial combat, dynamic scenery, variable reality settings, innovative graphics and a career mode. Only one of these features can be found in the final product, and that is the career mode. It is listed on Wastelands Interactive’s official website as an Aerial Combat Simulator in the Arcade genre, which is a text book example of a contradiction in terms. Simulators aim to give players the most realistic representation of the subject, where as arcade games aim to maximise the fun in as small a package as possible. After giving this game a thorough look, I can safely say that the Arcade feel is there (minus the fun), but there is nothing realistic about the experience whatsoever.
Truly Innovative Graphics
The graphics are so bad that you could probably run this game on a toaster. It doesn’t even look like an arcade game, but rather like an archaic game. Playing it reminded me of a time in my life when I was playing Delta Force on a Riva TNT 2 graphics card. Needless to say, all the lights were white circles within a black box because the card was unable to read the black colour as being transparent. The “beautifully crafted” ocean they prided themselves on in the press release looks like the ocean from Age of Mythology.
It worked in Age of Mythology because that was a strategy game where the camera was situated far above the ground looking down on all the soldiers. It does not work in a flight combat game where players can fly as close to the water as they want. When the plane is soaring through the sky in close proximity to the water, a V shaped arc will form on its surface. That would probably happen if a jet fighter was ever to fly full-throttle that close to the water but not when a propeller plane does so. If the player was to look down while the V shaped arc was there, he would also notice that for some strange reason, the arc starts in front of the plane.
All the Levels Look the Same
The first level is supposed to teach the player how to fly the plane. It’s not, however, a tutorial mission seeing as the game gives absolutely no instructions on how to go about doing so. I ended up pressing random buttons until I finally found out that W was the button that increased the throttle. At the start of that mission there was a black box in the corner that told me to patrol the area and that I was supposed to fly over the hill on the island in front of me. I did that and the mission was complete. All I had to do now was to land on the carrier again. As soon as the engine stopped I got an information screen showing my score. What struck me most was that on the top of the info screen it said “Secondary Objective Not Complete”. I wasn’t aware that there was any secondary objective. Exactly the same thing rings true for every level. At one point I was supposed to shoot down a couple of enemy fighters but I noticed that there was a ship on the map as well. I shot down the birds and then proceeded to sink the ship before coming in for landing. I was very surprised to see the top of the info screen reading “Secondary Objective Complete”. The game never informed me that there was any secondary objective.
Adds a very nifty "Uninstall" button to the Start menu.
No production values of any kind and bland gameplay.