I downloaded Red Wings Aces of the Sky on my PS4, and normally it’s not the type of game I’d play. I was really willing to give it a fair shot, and I had my boyfriend accompany me while I played. Mostly because he does lean into these types of games more than myself. However, by the end of the first hour of gameplay, we both could agree that, without a doubt, this game has some serious issues.
Before diving into its gameplay issues, I will say the one thing that this game does great: the graphics. I’ve always loved cell shading graphics, and the introduction screen is charming. There is a wide variety of plane models, and each one has plenty of skins to choose from. The story is also conveyed in a lovely comic book style, and all the loading and splash screens are appealing. However, the maps vary from visually captivating to extremely dull. I feel almost all the passion and effort of this game went into the visuals.
Upon starting the game, I was very impressed with the game menu’s design. Then, the tutorial happened and I instantly knew I was in for a ride. When you first start, the game throws a wall of text at you, and then wipes it away in ten seconds, giving me no time to understand the basic controls. Every time the game introduces a new mechanic it throws a new wall of text up that is so unnecessarily complicated and technical. Then it gives you about five seconds to test out the new mechanic before they completely interrupt your play again for a new wall of text.
I tested out some of the multiplayer and it wasn’t much better than the rest of the game. You can play co-op in the story missions, and you can fight each other in the battle modes. There are two battle modes in the game. The first is called versus, and here you dogfight each other. The versus mode is as close to the dogfighting gameplay the game so heavily advertised, and is the most enjoyable part of this game. The second mode is survival, and here you compete for the highest score. The survival mode is not nearly as compelling a competition as versus mode. Unfortunately, the game has absolutely no online capabilities. All of these multiplayer modes only support local play, so unless you can convince your little brother, friend, or significant other to play with you, these modes cannot be thoroughly enjoyed.
While the campaign’s comic book storytelling style between missions is visually engaging, they don’t have the best writing. I suppose a realistic World War 1 story would have been quite gruesome and depressing, but their portrayal of soldiers is laughable. There is one instance where a soldier starts by saying “Dear Anne Marie” as if he is writing to his partner, but then proceeds to tell her about the schematics of a plane engine for the entire ensuing letter. There is not a single touch of personability or affection towards Anne Marie, and better yet, they fail to ever bring up her name again. Even worse, the voice acting is at best inaccurate. Throughout the campaign, there are two stories being told: one from the perspective of English soldiers and the other from German soldiers. They feel like an actor attempting the accents based purely on stereotypes.
Where the game really drops bombs is the story missions. There are three types of missions: the usual dogfight, flying through rings in the sky, and dropping bombs on bridges. The latter two feel like they were thrown in because otherwise, it is the same exact mission looped 30 times. It was so hard to play past the first hour with how unengaging the gameplay, and the entire design of the game really is. Another baffling flaw is that the plane’s basic machine gun attack is tremendously powerful compared to your special abilities. In the tutorial, the game shows off a really cool special ability where you send your comrades to shoot up the enemy plane. However, in the game itself, it barely makes a dent in enemies’ health. Of course, you could just level it up in the game’s overly complicated skill tree, but base damage is so puny why would you ever use it. After two levels of the game, my left thumb started to cramp, and it took four rounds of the same exact gameplay to finally get something different. That something turned out to be a ring game that had the slowest and most boring level design I have seen. It was then followed by a level where you drop bombs on bridges. In this level, there was one moment where immediately after blowing up the bridge, the game scolded me for being out of bounds and demanded that I turn back around. The objective was placed directly next to an in-game wall; which shows how much thought was really put into the level design.
While the game has nice visuals, unfortunately, there’s not much more substance to the game. I can assure you that there are much better dogfighting/flying sim games out there for those interested to enjoy.
Score: 4 out of 10
Reviewed on PlayStation 4