If there is a recipe for success in video games, fighter jets, wars and explosions are probably main ingredients. Being able to take down enemy aircraft high above the clouds seems like a sure-fire hit. That’s the premise behind Air Conflicts Vietnam, a flight simulation game based on the events of the Vietnam War. Unfortunately, Air Conflicts Vietnam does not reach the heights normally achieved by aircraft and completely fails its mission, making the game a struggle to play for even the biggest history buffs.
Good Morning, Vietnam
As the name implies, Air Conflicts Vietnam takes place during the Vietnam War. Players are put in the role of a crew of pilots who are thrown above war-torn Vietnam. Obviously, the game has a compelling story set in reality but its only purpose is to provide subtle background for missions.
Controls are far from intuitive but are simple and straightforward. Helicopters can be unwieldy and dealing with camera angles can be cumbersome but barrel-rolling through the sky with a fighter jet is extremely gratifying. It doesn’t take long for piloting aircraft to become second nature, including D-pad buttons that quickly change weapons.
Early missions serve as a tutorial for the game, slowly introducing players to jets and helicopters with simple tasks. These levels can seem quite boring, but more challenging exploits await in later missions. However, the game’s biggest challenge is keeping players’ interest past the early beginners missions.
Levels are framed by transparent walls. Aircraft can fly past the walls without taking damage but the game will warn players to steer back in-bounds in a specific amount of time. These boxed-in areas feel abnormally small, especially for a game based on controlling fighter jets. Gamers will find themselves making frequent U-turns to stay in action. The visible walls also give players an advantage over enemy aircraft, which can be pinned down at each level’s boundaries.
The game takes place during the Vietnam War. Unfortunately, visuals almost look dated enough to come from games of that era. Graphics rival the best PlayStation 2 games, which would not be bad if the PS2 era wasn’t two long console generations old.
Jets and helicopters are easy on the eyes, especially when using the cockpit view. They give off a distinct look of an aircraft seasoned by war. However, looking down at the battlefield is discouraging. Enemies on the ground are difficult to tell apart from vehicles while textures and settings are plain and lifeless. The thrill of dropping bombs on enemy bases is shattered by overwhelmingly bad explosion animations.
Sounds of War
When it comes to voice acting, Air Conflicts Vietnam has some of the worst ever in a video game. Each mission is set up by a narrator who has the cadence and tone of an early computer A.I. Players can follow along with captions but misspellings and inaccuracies are hard to overlook. The game’s characters do not often speak to each other during missions but when they do bark out orders, chatter feels forced and repetitive. The lack of personality makes it difficult to feel any emotional attachment to the characters.
Aircraft are the real stars of Air Conflicts Vietnam and that shows in sound quality. Lifelike sounds such as the blades of a helicopter or the afterburners of a fighter jet will leave fans of flight satisfied.
Era-specific music plays during missions, adding a lively tone to what would normally be a mundane experience. Of course, players can replace the soundtrack with their own songs but the music selection helps set a backdrop of the time that the rest of the game fails to do. However, the upbeat music seems out of place when massacring swarms of helpless enemies from above.
In Air Conflicts Vietnam, all the attention is on aircraft. That is lucky because the aircraft are the only good thing about the game. Unfortunately, it is not enough to overlook the rest of Air Conflicts Vietnam.
The game consists of lazy gameplay and frustratingly small environments. Horrible voice acting by Siri’s grandpa and graphics that are so bad they will have players questioning if they need glasses tarnish any chance at an enjoyable experience. Air Conflicts Vietnam crashes and burns.