by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
When a newly invigorated team at Cinemaware came up with the idea to Kickstart one of their old games as a remastered edition, I was overjoyed, but also a little wary. Wings! was probably my favourite game from the Amiga 500 era. Would the newly recreated Cinemaware be able to recreate the sense of drama and fun of the 1990 classic? At the time, the visuals and audio of the original were amazing, continuing on the legacy which had been set by the studio. But would the Wings! Remastered Edition compete with today's standards? Personally, that would not have been a huge factor for me as all I would have asked for would be the same game that would be able to run on current machines. But would it be just as fun to play?
Hitting the skies
As with the 1990 original, the Wings! Remastered Edition is all about fun in the cockpit. The game plays out like an arcade version of a World War One flight simulator. Take-off is played out in a cut-scene and landing is done off screen, so the most difficult parts of flying are removed from the gamer. Instead, all the fun stuff remains, shooting down zeppelins and would-be Red Barons.
There are three mission types - Sorties, Strafing and Bombing Runs. Each variation plays out quite differently, but each is enjoyable in their own right. The bulk of the missions have you taking off and patrolling the skies over France. Whether it's to search for enemy aircraft, to shoot down observation balloons or escort missions for Allied bombers, eventually the Huns will appear and you are tasked with making sure that they are the ones crashing to earth.
In the air, it is just you (and your comrades) against the best the Germans can throw at you. There is no mini-map showing enemy targets, as no such device existed in WW1 flying machines. Instead enemy positions can be judged by simply watching the head of your pilot. If he looks to the left, an enemy is away to you left, if the pilot looks down, the enemy is flying below you, and so forth. Unfortunately, this has some drawbacks. On a couple of occasions I altered my course towards one of two enemies on the aerial battlefield. One flew over the top of me, whilst my wingman (who was chasing the Fokker scourge) did not, crashing into me and killing us both instantly. Damn!
Strafing moves the view from the third-person perspective of the dogfights, to that of an isometric view. Strafing involves hitting various targets which depend on the mission goals. Hitting the primary targets are a must, but secondary targets improve your mission standings. Strafing is somewhat easy as your plane moves diagonally up the screen. All you need to do is fire your machine guns. The hard part is working out where exactly the bullets will hit. It normally takes a couple of shots to work out the right trajectory depending on your altitude. Small targets such as infantry (especially those hidden behind bushes or in trenches) can be troublesome, popping up to take pot-shots at your aircraft. Anti-aircraft turrets and trucks are much easier targets and can achieve collateral damage, often killing nearby troops. Fire from AA guns can be disastrous though...one too many hits and your trusty plane will end up as firewood.
Easy arcade-style controls, fun gameplay, great fully-voiced story.
Dying when a fellow countryman flies into you.