By Kath Brice
18 July 2008
What is war good for? For making video games out of, that's
what. As proven by the hundreds of games out there based on
wars past and potentially future. And World War II is the
most popular of the lot - because it had a bit of everything.
Air combat and ground combat. And, of course, those indisputable
bad guys, the Nazis. How considerate of them to make it so
Aces of the Luftwaffe concentrates on that air part of the
war - putting you in control of a merry bunch of English fighter
pilots going up against the German invasion.
It's simple stuff on the surface. The game is a third-person,
top-down shooter with a neat cartoon style in which your plane
moves relentlessly forward and enemies equally as relentlessly
pour towards you from the top and sides of the screen. Pressing
fire triggers a few seconds of machine gun fire, and moving
left and right sets the enemies in your sights and hopefully
sends them spiralling groundwards. However, being a fighter
pilot isn't quite that straightforward, and Aces of the Luftwaffe
has a few more guns tucked in its armoury.
Firstly there are the power-ups scattered throughout the levels.
These can give you anything from dual machine gun fire and
rockets to a repair kit and even a power transmitter which
lets you call in supporting wingmen. Very handy for when the
fighting starts to get a bit more full on.
Better than the bog standard power-ups though are plane manoeuvres.
There are five different ones in total and all require you
to save up enough skill points through accurate gunning before
you can use them. But it's worth it - because rolling and
nosediving your way through battles is a lot more fun, not
to mention a lot easier, than simply flying straight through
So the roll manoeuvre lets you nip left or right quickly to
evade enemy fire, by pressing left or right twice quickly.
The nosedive lets you fly low - useful for avoiding enemies
and picking up some power-ups (and even fallen pilots in the
The looping manoeuvre meanwhile lets you loop backwards a
few seconds, so you can pick off enemies you might have missed
None of these tricks is included just for effect - you'll
struggle to get past more than the first few levels without
them - especially on the harder difficulty levels. They're
very satisfying to use too - and introduce a degree of strategy
seeing as you can't use them too often.
More strategy comes into play in the game's boss battles -
which pop along every few levels and give you a variety of
screen-filling planes and other airborne machines to polish
off. These can be replayed Dog Fight mode too, if you fancy
There are also various mission types in the main story game.
Air Battles are simple shooting fights where you need to take
down a certain number of enemies in the level in order to
claim victory. But there are more inventive missions - such
as Rescue ones where you need to nosedive on pilots to rescue
them, and Ground Defence where you shoot down bombers before
they reach their ground targets - indicated by red arrows.
With so much to it, Aces of the Luftwaffe is brilliantly playable.
The action is well-paced, the controls are as intuitive as
any console game's and there's enough variety to keep things
fresh. In fact, with the humorous dialogue between characters
and the numerous objectives that go with the game's story
mode, it's easily as polished as your average handheld game.
It's one very sharp shooter.
Other: WWII News
Copyright © Kath Brice.
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