Flight sims have suffered from mixed fortunes over the years. In the halcyon days of the nineteen nighties, rock solid sims like Jane’s Combat Simulations: Advanced Tactical Fightersand F-22 Air Dominance Fighter were at the top ofgamers most wanted list. However, flash forward to the early 2,000’s and flight sims have became the preserve of men with beards and sallow complexions. It’s been something of a rocky ride. This is no more illustrated than in the mixed response we had to Jane’s Advanced Strike Fighters. The game is neither a stats-heavy sim or straight out adrenaline-fuelled arcade shooter. Instead, developers Trickstar Games (they of International Cricket 2010 fame) tries to straddle the grey middle ground between these two camps and, in doing so, loses out to both.
For anyone who hasn’t earnd their wings playing Microsoft Flight simulator or IL-2 Sturmovik, JASF’s immediate pick up and play accessibility will come as a welcome change. Unlike unforgiving offerings like IL-2 Sturmovik – where just getting your plane in the air is an achievement – JASF lets you get down to the task of blasting bogies out of the sky almost immediately.
No laborious encyclopaedic tutorials to memorise, no negotiating with clearance authorities or hours of mind numbing training mini-games to sit through. No baby. If you feel the need for speed, then this is your ticket to ride. As long as you can remember that the right trigger moves you forward, the left one slows you down, the Y button locks onto a target and the A button knocks the bejesus out of them, you’re pretty much a qualified pilot.
The back story here is of the standard fare: a fictional word, an enemy nation that begins with an A and ends in …stan and a fragile peace suddenly broken.
Over the course of 16 missions you have the opportunity to sit in the cockpit of some 30 or so fighters. From the single-seat, twin-engine Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22A Raptor to the Russian fifth generation PAK-FA T-50, you are challenged with a series of missions ranging from escorting VIP’s to taking out strategic ground targets, knocking out convoys and blasting enemy fighters out of the sky.
The pacing on JASF is decidedly slow and steady. The game lacks a lot of the white knuckle seat of the pants tension that you would normally associate with straddling a 20,000 kg killing machine. Instead, once you’ve mastered the art of flying beneath enemy radar and locking onto targets before squeezing the A button, you’ve pretty much got a handle on the game. In fact, during the earlier missions you will soon realise that the planes are virtually stall-proof which, again, takes away from the feeling of danger and excitement.
The in-game graphics are by far one of the poorest we’ve seen on a next gen title in a long while. The aircraft themselves are pretty well modelled (except from the interiors which betrays the game’s shoestring budget) but the fictional world that you’re flying around in is about as flat as a pancake and as interesting as a shower-ring curtain seminar.
While eye candy certainly doesn’t make a great game, it doesn’t hurt either. The game has three difficulty settings and, as you progress in the missions, things do become more challenging. Whether or not you’ll persevere long enough to reach these stages is another matter.
JASF also offers a multi-player option, although, at the time of review, there weren’t many people playing the game to really test this out.
Although an acceptable flight sim, JASF lacks the spit and polish to help it stand out from the shadow of titles like HAWX or the mighty Ace Combat series. Don’t get us wrong, all of the ingredients are present but they could have been mixed in a hell of a lot better. If you’re a huge flight sim fan, this game is probably worth taking a look at. For anyone else, we would recommend rental as a first option.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox 360 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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