It’s always tricky converting your game from one system to another without alienating a huge audience. For example, features of mobile-games such as incredibly basic gameplay and in-app purchases are commonplace, but don’t transition very well to, say, a home console. Unfortunately, Handy Games didn’t seem to get the memo, leading to Aces of the Luftwaffe being a barely playable game which won’t keep you engaged for more than 10 minutes.
It’s almost comedic to call it ‘playing’ the game, but here goes: In order to play through the game’s 20 stages, you’ll move the left stick to fly your plane around a 2D screen, dodging bullets and trying to hit other enemy vehicles. That’s it. No, you won’t fire at other planes and get satisfying feedback, due to the game’s constant auto-fire feature which removes all sense of engagement. No, you won’t dodge out of stray shots with special manoeuvres such as barrel rolls or loop-de-loops. All you’re required to do is move the left stick (or right, it’s up to you) whenever you feel like it, and occasionally press a button to call in your “special attack” – often nothing more than a carpet-bomb which eliminates all enemies on the screen.
To be fair, the enemies do at least look presentable, as they’re made to look like Metal Slug-esque planes…although, like the game’s constantly repeating soundtrack, even they become a monotonous bore to behold. I can guarantee that after 5 minutes of playing, the charm of the game will have worn off, and you’ll wonder why you even began in the first place. There’s not even any real characters to move any sort of story along. Sure, you can pick from 3 pilots before each level (two of which are locked behind an insurmountable number of points – but more on that later); yes, there’s a minuscule cut-scene before each boss in which they announce their presence, but there’s just nothing to keep you even remotely interested. Even controlling the plane is an utter mess. Flying is shockingly minimalistic, but you’ll often move so erratically and uncontrollably fast that there’s no chance of dodging projectiles successfully.
To try and spice things up, Aces of the Luftwaffe also attempts to incorporate power-ups which intend to bolster your firepower. Instead, all they do is change the formation that your bullets are released in, usually cycling between four straight bullets, to a ‘scatter shot’ diagonal style, and then back to straightforward, regular shots. Additionally, the game also allows you to be accompanied by two wingmen who will fire along side you, but this does very little to vary gameplay.
Anyway, back to that issue of points. In transitioning from mobile to console, Aces of the Luftwaffe appears to have retained its reliance on micro-transactions within gameplay, and yet, doesn’t allow you to purchase them in-game. Initial upgrades for your plane will require around 100 medals (the currency used) to begin with, but you’ll only obtain roughly 30 on a solid run of each level. This means that, without the ability to purchase currency, you’ll be playing for hours just to unlock the better pilots and better upgrades for your plane. Couple this with bosses which practically demand that you’ve upgraded your vehicle at least partially, and you’re left with an experience which is better off not even trying.
If I had played Aces of the Luftwaffe on a phone, perhaps my critique of it wouldn’t be quite so scathing. Because I’m reviewing the PS4 version, however, I honestly can’t recommend you pay any money for this game. It’s instantly forgettable and has literally zero redeemable value. If you’re utterly desperate to try it out, then download it for free on the Google Play store, but just be prepared to pay for in-game currency which makes the game slightly playable. All in all: Give it a miss.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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