I’m not sure what bitComposer were thinking when they unleashed Air Conflicts: Secret Wars onto the Xbox. Did they want to create a gritty, semi-realistic, air combat arcade sim, one that stretched the nerves of the gamer and the capabilities of the console? If so then they failed miserably. AC: SW is dull, silly and only succeeds in stretching the patients of anyone unfortunate enough to play it.
You play the role of Dorothy Derbec, DeeDee to her inane friends, whose days as a pilot for hire, smuggler and daughter of a dead WW1 aerial ace have been upturned due to the annoying start of WW2. Caught in the middle of the Nazi war machine and the allied forces, DeeDee and her comrades have some harsh choices to make. Stay where they are and no doubt end up as German machine gun fodder, or join in the war effort to beat back the march of evil. No surprises as to what route she took.
DeeDee (I hate typing that name) now has 50-odd ludicrous and boring missions to fly through to help alter the course of the war. Bombing raids, stealth smuggling runs, shooting other planes, er… more bombing raids and more shooting things, mixed with flash backs to WW1 where you take the joystick of an old Sopwith Camel and fly as DeeDee’s dearly departed Dad. Anyway, to cut a very long and tedious story short, you have to fly around and shoot things and sometimes not get seen. Simple.
There are three game types on offer: the excruciating campaign, a dogfight and multiplayer. Let’s break them down.
The campaign involves sitting through some very odd still-shot images of DeeDee and her crew, whilst she monologues the story to you in, what I think is supposed to be a French accent, although I can’t be sure. Occasionally, you’ll meet up with someone else, usually this person will have some snippet of information that would prove interesting, providing you haven’t already fallen asleep, and tell it to you in the worst voice acting I’ve heard in a long time. Then, it’s up, up and away into the wild blue yonder to shoot things. Just read above to get the gist of the campaign.
The dogfight: Choose a plane. Pick how many enemy planes you want in the sky with you. Select their re-spawn times. Select day, night, clear, stormy; over mountains, desert, cities or coast. Then fly around for ever, or until you die, shooting at other planes.
The Multiplayer: Join in with deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag or destroy and protect. Choose which side and what plane to fly, then off you go, or more accurately, there you sit. Waiting for someone, somewhere in the world, who also owns this game to play as well. The silence is deafening.
Considering this is a fairly modern Xbox game, the graphics look like they’ve been rendered on an old Pentium 4. There was visible tearing during in-flight, which made me think there was something wrong with my console. There were times when enemy planes would, for no reason whatsoever, drop out of the sky. And could someone please explain how the heck a ground based artillery shell is capable of traveling through a hill and executing a 90 degree turn?
I’ve already mentioned the voice acting, but I just have to say again, diabolical. In fact, utter poo. The other sound effects comprised of the drone of the engines, the bang, bang of the shells, machine gun fire and the whistle of a dropping bomb. If you closed your eyes, you could almost imagine you were in a Spitfire dropping bombs over Berlin. NOT!
I’m hard-pressed to say anything good about AC:SW. I suppose it has a multiplayer, should anyone ever turn up for a game that is. And, I guess the first blast of dogfighting is okay. But after 20 minutes, forget it. Spend your cash elsewhere.
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