What is the concept? Originally titled Combat Wings: The Great Battles of World War II and intended for release as a full-priced retail disk, Dogfight 1942 has alternatively arrived as an Xbox Live Arcade download. Despite the game’s eleventh hour alteration in moniker and publishing method, the aerial combat hasn’t changed from developer City Interactive’s agreeable E3 demo. Recalling Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron WWII and Air Conflicts’ blithe adaptations of historical combat, Dogfight’s breezy battles and bombing runs are unlikely to win over stanch simulation fans. Yet for players yearning to lighten the Luftwaffe’s numbers, the game’s uncomplicated controls allow players to dominate the skies with a minimal amount of groundwork.
Beyond aerial engagements in the European theatre with locales like London or Dover, the game also delivers conflicts set amidst prominent sites in the Pacific such as Iwo Jima and Midway. Although the majority of these encounters entail defending friendlies or eliminating enemies, the title’s succinct sorties never transcend the fifteen-minute mark, offsetting the potential for tedium. To ease the barrier of entry for an air conflict, the title can automate many of the nuances of flight, assisting pilots with flight when they are engaged in battle or about to splash down in the water- even taking control of the landing gear during take-off and landings.
What are the game’s strengths? With many of the complexities of flight handled by the game, Dogfight is able to emphasize on the bombast of air battles. Although rather anachronous, the game’s default option allows player to lock onto foes with a press of the LB button, simulating the HUD of a contemporary jet fighter. Once pilots have a general bead on an enemy, a press of the left trigger enters Ace Mode- not only tightening the perspective between your craft and an adversary, both also atomically tracking the rival through twists and turns, recalling the DFM ability found in Ace Combat: Assault Horizon. With Ace Mode engaged, Dogfight’s habitually middling visuals awaken, as the screen darts to follow the tense pursuit. Gratifyingly, these exhilarating events typically culminate in a nice payoff, as the smoking shell of an enemy disintegrates into a furious explosion.
Those with a bit of virtual flight time are encouraged to toggle off the game’s assistive elements. Moving Dogfight’s settings to simulation provides the ability to control rolls and turns independently, giving players more control over their craft. A Hardcore Mode is tucked away in the settings menu, eliminating most of the game’s visual markers, although your crosshairs stubbornly still turn red when an enemy is being targeted. While Dogfight allows players to issue commands to their compatriots, admittedly allies don’t seem to listen to an ‘attack my target’ order when the HUD is deactivated.
What are the game’s weaknesses? Even with Dogfight 1942’s difficulty set to hard, opponents pose a tepid threat. Too often, enemies seem to buzz around in circular patterns, oblivious of any urgency or objective of their fellow countrymen. When opponents do attack players, the game’s regenerative health system obliges players to shift out of harm’s way for a few moments, eliminating much of the tension of combat. During the first few missions, a post- engagement landing will present is likely to present the greatest risk to players; at least until they determine the subtleties of a solid approach and graceful touchdown.
The game’s other shortcoming is the lack of an online functionality. Although Dogfight offers a local co-op mode that splits the screen vertically and pulls the game camera back, participants hoping to battle or become (in the case of competitive play) the axis powers will be disappointed that the game doesn’t offer much substance beyond its core campaign. Players can confront waves in opponents in a monotonous Survival Mode or race to splinter squadrons of enemy fighters in two offline deviations, but neither diversion is likely to captivate gamers in the long run.
Is it worth the money? With console combat games such as IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey, Heroes Over Europe, and the Blazing Angels series contending for bargain bin space, City Interactive’s digital publishing and fifteen dollar price appears provoked by competition yet promoted as generosity. However on the day of the game’s release, the publisher also announced the Russia Under Siege pack, a ten dollar supplement which offers control of the Soviet air fleet, effectively elevating the price for Dogfight 1942’s comprehensive campaign. Considered that the genre’s finest effort- Birds of Steel can be procured for about the roughly the same price as Dogfight’s main campaign, this game is best recommended to flight fans who haven’t satiated their desire for World War 2-era aerial aggression.