Adding RPG to WW2 Dogfights
Referencing real world World War II aircraft, Warplanes: WW2 Dogfight is an unexpected quality plane fighter. Thanks to simple but engrossing RPG elements, the player always has something to do even when not shooting down the enemy out of the sky.
Not truly simulation but not totally arcadey, this flight fighter is somewhere in the middle. Thanks to a lenient lock-on system, tracking and mowing down enemy aircraft is a more casual experience. In fact, without this lock-on feature, the game would probably be unplayable. Since locking-on and shooting is made simple, this downloadable Switch title can be played and enjoyed by almost anyone right out of the gate. Even controlling the plane, handling maneuvers, and switching aircraft on the fly is simplified using easy to understand controls. The comfortable control scheme never gets in the way of the dogfighting, making this an approachable game for all ages and experience levels.
As responsive as the controls are, the most addicting qualities are the simplified RPG elements. Each successful mission will earn gold, silver, and prestige points – all of which are used to level up in someway. Want to unlock a new plane? Better save up enough gold. Feel like making your pilot more responsive? Use those prestige points. Want to increase the defense or offensive capabilities of your plane? Then spend some resources. Even though the game doesn’t actually show it, there is an entire ecosystem working behind the scenes to make the player take to the skies. It is almost like a toned down SimCity aspect where the player needs to build tents so the pilots can sleep or hire more staff to maintain the planes. Luckily, everything is easily navigated by the thoughtful menu structure and UI. Even though there is a lot happening in the air and behind the scenes, the player can easily manage it all, every step of the way.
One of the most impressive feats is how quickly the game transitions from the RPG menu screen to actual gameplay. With literally zero load times, it is a wonder how the programmers managed to pull off this impressive feature. Further, friendly AI can be given orders through tapping buttons on the dpad. Unlike Star Fox companions that only get in the way and need constant saving, the friendly AI actually fights incoming enemies. Sure, they leave the meat of each battle to the player, but they will actually damage aircraft, even finishing off a fighter or two depending on the stage. The player will also be exposed to different types of missions. Some are offensive in which the player needs to kill anything that is moving. Some are defensive where the player needs to protect a target from being destroyed. There are even naval missions in which the player must destroy ships right out of the water. Also, when the machine guns are not enough, the player can switch to a bomber plane, if one has been unlocked, and go into bombing mode with the tap of a button. The missions might be varied but unfortunately not all of them are balanced. Some missions unknowingly skyrocket the difficulty factor, causing a restart almost instantly. So there will need to be some grinding for level ups to tackle some of these difficult missions. Luckily, the game’s Achievement system actually provides value as earning Achievements unlock resources to level up faster, making the entire system intuitive and welcomed.
Visually, the game looks stunningly clear when docked and viewed on a nice 4K TV. The first time a plane flew right by me at full speed I said a expletive out loud as I wasn’t expecting the sense of speed. Unfortunately, the ground environment looks rather drab and unlived. This is WWII after all so there should be villages, with people out and about but there is none of this. The music when navigating the menus in the hangar is also unexpectedly ominous, like a horror monster is about to pop out at any second, and doesn’t fit the game at all. At least the opening tutorial is quick, easy to understand, and gets the player up to speed quickly. The player also has the option to decorate each plane with sexy lady logos and sharp teeth on the helm but it is rather limited and there for novelty.
I wound up enjoying Warplanes: WW2 Dogfight way more than I thought I would. Upon first glance, it is easy to assume this will be another forgetful plane fighter. Instead, players will be impressed with the uncomplicated controls, the addicting RPG elements, and strong lock-on feature that makes you feel like a super hero in the sky. While some missions are fiercely unbalanced and there is a lack of any type of multiplayer, this is a dogfighter that casual and hardcore fans can enjoy.
Not As Intense As: the Ace Combat series
Also Try: Starlink: Battle For Atlas
Wait For It: Crimson Skies Remastered