The Air conflict series has been around for a while, it has never hit the popularity of some other titles of the same genre, such as Tom Clancy’s Hawx, but they are fantastic games in their own right. With the newest in the series, Air Conflicts : Vietnam, we go back to the controversial war of the 70’s, as the name suggests, and if you are used to this series, you will find the balanced mix of flight sim and arcade game play, just as it is in the previous entries in this series.
So now we have the war in Vietnam, playing as the American pilot Joe Thompson, given a large variety of tasks which range from dog fights in the air against other fighter jets, taking out hard targets where the Viet Cong have hold up with bombers, supporting ground troops by taking out tanks and infantry, and flying troop transport to pick up and drop off infantry to the front lines. If you’re a fan of hyper realistic flight Sims, this is not going to be a game for you at all, it bases itself more on a arcade style gameplay that fits it just right, so you can leave your joystick alone as this game works perfect for keyboard or just your controller of choice for your PC.
The story side at play here is pretty weak, sure it drives the game along but it’s not something you’re going to remember for years to come, most of the character building is done in the form of letters sent between your character and his family and friends from back home, mostly talking about the war. You also get brief conversations at the start of a mission, explaining how the friendly and Viet Cong forces are doing, though this mostly serves as more of a mission brief than any form of story building. Though this game focuses mainly on gameplay which is does, fantastic.
Let’s be honest when it comes to flight games like this, story usually takes a back seat, and it does here, because the game play alone is fantastic, I’ve spent much more time just playing dogfights than I have actually completing the story. Going back to Hawx, controls are very similar, and honestly Hawx is the only flight “Sims” I’ve massively enjoyed, until Air Conflicts Vietnam, controls are tight and it feels like your actually going fast in a jet, lower ammo count actually gives you a feeling of worth for each rocket that you use and miss, the MG cannon becomes something you need to use sparingly with only a finite amount of rounds. It’s something to be said when playing a game in a helicopter or jet’s that I actually feel like I’m in control (Hello Battle Field 3), the controls are simple, and it is extremely satisfying to gun down multiple Viet Cong from the gunner seat of a Huey.
For those of you who happen to have a special spot for historical planes, you’re in for a treat, 30+ accurate Helicopters, Jet’s and Bombers are here for your enjoyment to tackle the multitude of tasks at hand and dog fights in single and multilayer, the list isn’t exhaustive, but covers most of the most famous that were deployed during the war.
Graphically at first I was expecting to be disappointed, with a menu backdrop that wouldn’t look out of place in Medal of Honour front line assault with plenty of detail obscuring fog, I was expecting something disappointing. I was wrong, this game looks fantastic, with highly detailed units, and nicely covered foliage, the ground areas also look very nice with different areas such as rice paddies and rivers in the Vietnam landscape set the mood just right.
For the audio side of things there is not much really to talk about, all the Jet’s, Bombers and Helicopters sound as they should, with satisfying sound’s when firing the cannon or launching rockets. The music that is playing in this game really does set the mood, mostly 70’s music that wouldn’t be amiss from a Vietnam movie. So when saving your units or giving them air support, it will allow you to get a little more immersed into this game.
Air Conflicts : Vietnam is a great game, and while not a big name, if you enjoy semi Arcady flight sims, or have a big interest in Vietnam war/planes used in that era, this game will fill you in for a afternoon or more. Once fully released as with other games of this genre there will be a dedicated fan base that will keep the multi-player alive for a while to come, but the addition of single player dog fights will at least either give you time to practise, or let you play if the online player base is a little thin.