Steampunked: Air Conflicts: Secret Wars

BoxAnother week another game down in my continuing adventure to play through all the crap I’ve picked up in my Steam library over the years.  This week brings us back to World War II in a flight sim that I have no real idea why I even own.  I can only assume I picked this up in some kind of bundle at some point.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the occasional flight simulator but I highly doubt I was seriously in the market for a middling budget WWII shooter any time in the past.  Let’s take a look at Air Conflicts: Secret Wars.

Game: Air Conflicts: Secret Wars

Developer: Games Farm

Release: September 30, 2011

Genre: Action/Arcade Flight Sim

Rating: 3/5

If you liked: Blazing Angels, Secret Weapons Over Normandy

One mission has you luring Russian planes to a Nazi base

One mission has you luring Russian planes to a Nazi base

There’s nothing really bad about Air Conflicts, however there really isn’t anything great about it either.  You play female pilot Dorothy “DeeDee” Derbec, a smuggler who gets caught up in flying missions for various people in World War II.  DeeDee’s father was an ace pilot in the first World War and there are some flashback missions thrown in for good measure where you get to pilot wooden coffins through the skies while DeeDee’s friend Tommy waxes nostalgic for the good old days of flight combat.

Damage is accurately modeled on your planes

Damage is accurately modeled on your planes

The game has a decent length to it, sporting a total of 49 missions over 7 campaigns.  Each campaign takes place in a different front of the war, beginning in Tobruk in Northern Africa and spanning into the Eastern and Western fronts.  Each campaign consists of 7 missions, 6 story related and 1 flashback.  The missions have some decent variety to them as well, you aren’t just shooting down planes every time.  Some of them have you flying on stealth runs where you must keep your altitude low and avoid being spotted by other planes, while others have you take on bombing runs and destroy enemy installations.  While there is some variety in mission structure though this is still a flight sim so the majority of your time will be spent flying around dogfighting with enemy pilots.

The story is boringly told through monologue while images like this are scanned over

The story is boringly told through monologue while images like this are scanned over

The fighting is fairly decent, the controls seem to work well.  I used an Xbox 360 controller which worked fine as the game came out for that system as well.  I didn’t bother with mouse and keyboard though I imagine with no form of joystick at all the game would take a dip in controllability.  Your planes are rather durable, in fact I found it was rather hard to get damaged much less killed on the normal difficulty level, so if you’re looking for a challenge you might want to bump it up.  When you do manage to take damage your plane shows it physically as your wings begin to deteriorate and your engine starts to blow smoke.  Whats nice about the fighting is its incorporation of critical hits, every now and again you will get lucky and strike the enemy’s fuel supply or shoot the pilot in the head killing them instantly.  There is a light upgrade system in place as well which allows you to increase your agility, handling, luck and firepower.  I simply maxed my luck as this greatly increases your chances of scoring critical hits which speeds up combat.

Critical hits keep combat interesting at least

Critical hits keep combat interesting at least

The major problem with Air Conflicts: Secret Wars is that it’s pretty much the definition of a budget title.  While the gameplay works and doesn’t have any major flaws to it, there is really nothing outstanding about the title either.  The story is presented via voice-over while a single image is panned and scanned over for 10 minutes.  The voice acting is passable but not great and the accents tend to feel a little forced.  The graphics are decent enough on the planes and there are some good effects when things explode and continue to burn and smoke but the environments are flat and lifeless.  If you enjoy empty brown deserts and sparse dark green countryside this game may be for you.  They try to bring in some excitement with weather effects but while these are a nice change of pace they’re not very convincing and just look like cheap effects on top of some already bland window dressing.

A storm tries to liven up the dull world

A storm tries to liven up the dull world

There’s really nothing I would recommend about Air Conflicts that you can’t get elsewhere.   If you just want a flight sim game you’re better off sticking with something of higher pedigree like Ace Combat, or if you don’t care about fighting then Microsoft Flight Simulator.  The story is rather bland and uninteresting and the gameplay never does anything truly unique enough to warrant coming back to.  I got through two campaigns in this game and I feel I’ve seen enough.  While it didn’t do anything to offend me, it certainly didn’t do anything to win me over either.  At the end of the day, Air Conflicts is an average arcade flight sim that I’ll probably never play again.

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