Air Conflicts: Vietnam

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Air Conflicts: Vietnam review
Ingvi Snædal


Failure to Launch

A cup of tea
Air combat games are definitely my cup of tea. I don't really mind whether they are ultra realistic or arcadey, as long as they're honest about what they are and fun to play. Air Aces: Pacific is an example of a game that was advertised as a simulator but then failed miserably at delivering any form of realism. Luckily, Air Conflict: Vietnam knows that it's an arcade game and makes no claim of being a realistic representation of war. The only realism found in it is the story and the gameplay is - aimed - towards fun. Unfortunately the game suffers from a number of painful issues that make it hard to recommend.

I first played Air Conflict: Vietnam at Gamescom back in August. I was fully aware then that it was a work-in-progress and thus wasn't too hard on it when the controls failed to work. For the review however, I expected the controls to just work. The game recognised my keyboard, mouse, game controller and flight stick but try as I might, I couldn't get the flight stick to work. After deciding to attempt the first mission with a mouse and keyboard, I found it to be an absolutely hopeless way of controlling an airplane. Switching to the controller made the game playable, but my troubles didn't end there. I wasn't completely satisfied with the button layout, so I went to the menu to customise it. All the tools to change the button layout where there but I was unable to move the selection down to the specific commands and was forced to play the game with a layout I could not get used to. We were not off to a good start, Air Conflict and I.

Better use your own "I"
The game introduces itself by teaching you how to control a fighter jet, making you go through a routine manoeuvrability check. You'll get to do the same thing with helicopters. There are a multitude of birds to choose from and they don't look half-bad, but you'll soon get tired of flying them due to the repetitiveness of the missions and the annoyingly frequent scene switches. Each mission is divided into multiple smaller scenes, having you clear out AA guns in an attack helicopter in the first scene, intercepting MIGs in a fighter jet in the next, and then finishing off by dropping paratroopers into action using a huge bomber, for example. Many of these scenes are badly designed and so short that switching between them conspires to break your immersion into the game. The fact that your AI wingmen are absolutely useless in combat doesn't help that immersion much either, though at least you can switch between planes during the mission and some use out of the supporting aircraft that way. With no AI to speak of, those extra planes are only there for you to use when you run out of ammo, and you will do a lot of that.

Many questionable design choices appear in the game and speed is one of them. There is no way to set your speed. You can only turn on the afterburners for a power kick or brake to temporarily slow down. If you hold the brake button for long enough, of course, you will stall. But fret not, for stalls are very easy to break. Having no way to set the power output, however, means that bombing targets from low altitudes becomes a ridiculous exercise as you'll whiz by them way too fast to drop a bomb. This also applies to dogfights with MIGs that are too close to you. You'd normally slow down a bit to create some distance between the two of you and get that missile lock, which you can use the brake for, admittedly, but not being able to simply set the speed at 50% for a few seconds seems like a severe handicap to me.


fun score


A story which reflects fairly the atrocities committed by the US air force in Vietnam.


A story which reflects fairly the atrocities committed by the US air force in Vietnam.