"Eagle 1 to Flight Leader, I think we have a rip-off here…" - Review By Frenchy
It's a bird, it's a plane, no wait, it's another aircraft shoot 'em up! Anybody who's played Air Combat for Playstation will notice the similarity between these two games. The control scheme as well as the graphics and gameplay for that matter is just about the same. Airforce Delta's concept is pretty straightforward: go fly in a missile-equipped jet and shoot stuff. It's a great game for imagining your boss or annoying co-worker somehow glued to an enemy jet that you've just shot a missile at.
Keeping in strict formation with other Dreamcast games, the graphics look beautiful. It seems that the biggest trend with the newest flight games is the air streaks on the end of the wing tips. This definitely adds some eye candy to the flight experience. The light effects are pretty generic with sun flares and temporary whiteouts when staring directly into the sun. Aerowings does this effect better than Airforce Delta's implementation, but then again Aerowings doesn't have much else going for it. The smoke trails off of the missiles are nice and it's always fun arching away from the missiles as they launch. It's just like being in a movie. Cloud effects were pretty smooth as well thanks to fog texturing, ala Tribes.
At the end of this tunnel, there's probably something to blow up. Yay!
While the graphics are nice to look at, the controls rank up there as being just above average. The firing commands along with speed control are pretty much straightforward. Again, the in-game effect of speeding up or slowing down is noticeable; it's still only a bit above average. Controlling the plane in novice mode is pretty easy, push left to move left, push right to move right, and so on. It gets fun when you turn it to expert mode though. Getting to perform barrel roles and Split S's is always the best part. For those who just started playing a flight game, I suggest going novice, but if you've played your fair share of flight games, jump right into expert mode. You'll feel cheated if you don't.
As for the sound, this just squeaks by as being on "The Good" side. As you probably figured, it's just above average. The missile launches are pretty fair and the planes flying by are pretty nice. One cool thing is the stereo effects. The sound editors did a good job using both the right and left channels to make things seem mildly more realistic. The only problem that I found with the sound was that there was not enough bass to it. It would have been nice to shake the whole house when you just burned by a bomber.
As far as variety goes, there's not much, but the different amount of planes is nice. They vary from short-range fighters to long-range bombers. You can really tell the difference between the different jets from the way it controls to how much damage it takes to even how fast it goes. The graphical details as well as the performance of the planes are just like the real things except the stall speeds seemed a bit off. But this isn't your typical combat/fight-sim. The idea of earning money to buy better planes is nice. It gives you a bit more pride for the plane you got just because you bought it, instead of something just arbitrarily plopped in front of you. More planes become available as you beat more missions, which gives a bit more incentive to keep playing.
The interface isn't that great, but it's usable.
One of Airforce Delta's strong points is that it's easy for beginners to jump right in and start shooting stuff. It's a game where even the greenest newbie can sit down in front of it and start flying around, blowing stuff up. The menus as well as the briefings are pretty straight-forward. Although some more intense jet-sim fanatics will feel a bit cheated, it's nice to be able to just hop into a jet get into the action right away. Eat your heart out, Tom Cruise.
While the graphics are something to admire, there are some flaws. The first one is something that really frosts my cupcake in most flying games: the buildings and other structures look too square and flat. I call this the cardboard cutout effect. You can just imagine some little kid putting down tiny plastic buildings and holding his little jet plane as it strafes by his toy army men on the living room rug. The explosions and the terrain graphics are also lacking. All the explosions looked the same, and ground explosions just looked plain cheesy. The terrain on the other hand just doesn't work very well. It looks more like random landscapes slapped together rather than a real terrain you can love and hold like your very own (or something). In other words, it lacks depth, which is something that shouldn't happen on a system like the Dreamcast.
While the graphics didn't have too many problems, neither did the controls. The only part I didn't like was that the analog joystick doesn't have a big role in this game. The plane seemed to be too jumpy in expert mode. Also, handling the briefing part of the game seemed to get awkward since there was not a cursor or any indication where it was going when you pressed left or right.
The buildings and other environmental features sometimes resemble cardboard cutouts more than anything else.
On the subject of AI, I was really disappointed with this. It was all too much of the same stuff. Planes stayed on your butt no matter where you went and it just wasn't that challenging. The computer didn't work with other planes so it made it feel as if there were five separate planes hunting you, not one squadron. In on words, I felt as if they took the AI from the great Atari game, River Raid, and stuck it right into Air Force Delta. As with a lot of things in the game, I felt that they could of done so much more with it, but didn't. The Dreamcast is a superior system, so why make a mediocre game? Mediocrity sucks.
In addition to these flaws, the replay value is just too low. You fly the same missions over and over, where the objective is to blow up designated targets. The game would have been cooler if there was a 2 player vs. mode or even better, a 2 player co-op mode.
The Final Word
For a standard rental fee, Airforce Delta proves itself to be something worth playing. But it's probably not worth the full purchase price just because you'll discard it after you've beaten it. Sure, buying new planes is fun, but overall it loses its thrill after the first couple hours of play. For diehard flight-combat fanatics, this game would be a good purchase, but for anybody else, it's worth just a couple hours in front of the TV shootin' down some planes.
Ingredients for Airforce Delta stew:
1 Instant "Air Combat" powder
2 tablespoons of Dreamcast graphics
4 cups of cheesy synth music
1 pound of After Burner
2 ounces of "Top Gun" beef
and 6 pounds of generic gravy
Highs: Easy to pick up and play. Fairly fast load times, nice, smooth
graphics. Good wholesome action.
Lows: Nothing very new. Playability goes down quick. Cheesy soundtrack. Boring landscape graphics.
Other: 1 player, VMU Compatible (for saving)
(out of a possible 10)
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