There’s something intrinsically satisfying about the flight-sim, but it’s a very specific gameplay experience, and one which can be stilted, boring if it’s not done just so. City Interactive are a relatively small company, specialising in budget gaming, but their previous title in the Combat Wings franchise, Battle of Britain, was met with general positivity from both critics and players. It was a little buggy, a little crass maybe, never a threat to the A-titles of the genre as it were, but fun overall; much like Saints Row to GTA.
There’s a good chance that the tackiness of its predecessor will also pass on, but that’s not necessarily a deal breaker; sometimes a tacky game can be heaps more fun than a game that takes itself too seriously (again, think Saints Row). They’ve even included the Battle of Britain as one of the main campaigns in Great Battles, so returning players will get the chance to draw their own direct comparisons.
With Combat Wings: Great Battles of WWII coming in rapidly to land (it’s scheduled for release sometime in March this year, though no solid date has been confirmed, having been pushed back recently from February 19th), WhatCulture takes a gander at what we can hope to expect from the upcoming combat flight-sim.
Fluid Aerial Combat
If there’s one thing we can assume, it’s that City Interactive will have improved on their previous engine, or at least that’s what one would hope. One of the features that they’re touting as part of Great Battles of WWII is that the flight itself, that core mechanic, has been refined heavily since Battle of Britain, in order to conform to our expectations of modern in-game graphics and physics.
But the Polish Pub/Dev’s are keeping largely quiet about what’s to be on offer, publishing a surprising lack of any actual gameplay footage. We’ve speculated before about what this could mean; it’s either a way to hide what they consider to be a sub-par game, or a marketing technique – a way to create a sense of curiosity about what’s to come. Other game pundits who’ve have played demo versions have posted that it’s exciting, intense and frenetic, leading us to believe that it’s most likely the latter.
Authentic WWII Planes
Taking to the skies in Great Battles of WWII are around 50 of the most iconic WWII planes, ripped directly from wartime history (admittedly not all of these are playable, but you know…they’re there). To some, a plane is a plane, but some will have historgasms over the downing of a German bomber in a Supermarine Spitfire.
City Interactive have stated on numerous occasions that they believe modern flight-sims to be boring; it’s merely an operation nowadays – flying at the speed of sound, locking onto an enemy fighter with a guided air-to-air missile, launching two to be safe, before peeling off home for kippers. Back then, dogfights we’re the aerial equivalent of a bar room brawl. The planes you’ll fly will of course be limited by the technology of the early 1940’s, which means you’ll have to get close enough to throw the enemy pilot the ‘V’ before you wipe him off the planet.
Battles set on Authentic WWII Stages
The aerial battles in this game are undeniably iconic, well remembered moments from wartime history. Taking a look at the press release, the word ‘painstaking’ is used to describe the recreation of these campaigns. This could just be marketing fluff of course and getting it wrong is a sure fire way to piss off anybody with an internet browser and a healthy inquisitiveness about history. City Interactive have kept schtum about so much of what’s to be on offer, but if it’s done right, it should be nicely satisfying to relive the classic victories and bitter defeats of the WWII allies, albeit with a mere fraction of the actual danger (you could spill hot coffee on yourself for example).
Kill-cam sounds like a nice little feature; it plays back your particularly epic takedowns with style and cinematography. One of the things that can be gleaned about Great Battles of WWII is that the aerial combat itself is promises to be busy, frenetic and stylish, all the while adhering to the limitations of the time without becoming sluggish. Obviously, the limitations of the time don’t equal those of the platform and Kill-cam is just one of the new features that help to reiterate that this is in fact a modern game. Unfortunately, City Interactive have been pretty tight lipped about Great Battles in general, so as for what its other gameplay features will be, we’ll just have to wait and see.
Enemy A.I can often become quite predictable in a combat flight-sim and I can’t see that Great Battles’ single player campaign, after a few missions at least, is going to shirk this trend. But the opposite can be said about online play. Dog-fights with real-life enemies can be as unpredictable and realistic as those that may actually take place in the skies.
Combat Wings of course boasts this online gameplay aspect, which not only allows you to have your ass frustratingly handed to you by a mouthy ten-year-old, but also provides a slew of different gameplay modes to hopefully ensure that boredom is staved off. Several online sources also believe that City Interactive are attempting to squeeze in a co-op mode before the title lands on shelves (this could possibly even be why the release was pushed), though this is yet to be confirmed or denied officially.
If the game’s good – which general consensus seems to say that it very well might be – then for the most part, the online play should be good too. Whether or not the online system will be intuitive, functional and of course whether its online community will thrive or die is yet to be seen.
Combat Wings: Great Battles of WWII, while not having a concrete release date as yet, is tipped to be in stores in March this year on Xbox 360, PS3, Wii and PC.
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This article was first posted on February 14, 2012