Air Conflicts: Secret Wars

I Just Kept Waiting For The Beyonder To Arrive

Air Conflicts - Secret Wars should eject from your PS3.
Author: Aram Lecis
Published: December 11, 2011
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I'm a guy who loves a great combat flight simulator. My history with them goes all the way back to early PC classics like Jet and Chuck Yeager's Air Combat onward through World War 2 sims like Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe and even futuristic masterpieces like Freespace 2. So even though I had never heard of Gamesfarm or their game Air Conflicts - Secret Wars when Sam dropped it on my desk, I still was a bit excited to take to the skies.

Alas, all flight-sim games are not created equal. AC-SW's closest comparison, the Air/Ace Combat series (which I absolutely adore) is so many leaps and bounds ahead of this mediocre mistake that unless you simply HAVE to play a WW2 game you can skip over this series in favor of the newest Ace Combat game.

Secret Wars espouses the adventures of Dorothy "DeeDee" Derbec, her guardian Tommy (a WW1 RAF pilot and squadmate of DeeDee's dead dad Guillaume) and their drunken Australian mechanic Clive. This rag-tag group of aerial mercenaries gets drawn into WW2 and end up helping the Allies (for the most part) and globetrotting from Africa to Azerbaijan to the Balkans and finally the gates of Berlin shooting down Nazi's and bombing ground targets at a prodigious rate not seen by any pilot before.

The war will play out through 40 or so missions across seven theaters, but most missions fall into either stealth flying, dogfighting, or bombing tanks and bridges. The lack of variety in both the mission structure and the environments themselves means one mission bleeds into the next without much cohesion and the whole thing turns into a drag about a third of the way through. A few of the final missions liven things up by batting in a city environment, but it hardly plays a major role or stretches the gameplay, so it doesn't really lend the finale any great gravity. Much of the time I felt like I was playing an early-90's PC flight simulator rather than a current generation game.

An awful lot of time is spent on the hugely melodramatic narrative that feels like a pale clone of the similarly dramatic Ace Combat games. The life of DeeDee is a tumultuous one, and her propensity for accepting work from anyone with no regard for moral fiber comes back to bite her more than once. Nothing is off limits when the writers borrow from the book of cliches, so you'll see raging alcoholism, misplaced patriotism and government coverups before the story ends a bit predictably. To give you an idea of just how "serious" the narrative takes itself, I wrote the next few paragraphs in the Gamesfarm motif.
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