Air Conflicts: Vietnam is an arcade style flight game from developers Games Farm and the latest in the Air Conflicts series. While previous Conflicts games took place during World Wars I&II, this time players are thrust into battle during one of the most explosive and violent wars of all time: The Vietnam War.
The game follows Joe Thompson, an intrepid and patriotic Navy pilot stationed in Vietnam. Joe, like his father before him wants to serve his country, so he leaves behind his wife, young daughter, younger brother and mother. While the single player campaign covers the events of the war (with historical accuracy) from beginning to end, it also attempts to deliver a heartfelt story involving Joe and his relationship with his family. Attempts, is the key word here as the game fails to do so.
At the start of the game, the relationship is a happy one. The mother of course, is worried about her son fighting in a war and his wife and daughter miss him but overall Joe’s relationship with them is rock solid. That ultimately changes as the situation in Vietnam gets worse and the horrors being committed become public knowledge, as well as Joe’s continued involvement and refusal to return home. Over the years the relationship becomes strained and the player experiences this by reading the many letters Joe receives from his family after certain missions. You never see any of his family members, or even Joe for that matter, instead you are treated to voice overs. Therein lies the problem.
The voice acting for everyone in this game is pretty bad, they sound as if they are just reading lines and not really putting any effort or real emotion into what they are saying. Other times it seems as though they are forcing themselves to sound how their characters are supposed to feel but with laughable results. This makes it difficult to really care for these characters on a personal level and their dilemma. Even Joe’s conflicted thoughts regarding if going to war was the right thing to do has no effect as his lines are delivered terribly.
Graphically, Air Conflicts: Vietnam looks, well, dirty. The air vehicles look decent enough but the environments are just ugly. Murky textures, roads and fields that looked like they were paintings on a canvas instead of actual roads and fields and fuzzy pixelated images during cut-scenes. This could pass for a PS2 or original Xbox game and sadly they were games from that generation that looked better.
Even when a game fails at telling a captivating story and doesn’t look that great, it can be overlooked if it gets the most important thing right, Gameplay; If a game is fun to play then that’s all that matters. Sadly while this game does have its moments, it also misses the mark.
Players will pilot a variety of airplanes and helicopters throughout the campaign. Thankfully the game’s controls are fairly simple, making it easy to pick up and play. It also helps that it puts you through a tutorial first instead of just letting you lose in its murky, dirty world. There are almost 30 missions in the game, and most of the missions feature multiple objectives, from engaging enemy planes in aerial combat, to performing bombing runs and escorting troops across the battlefield.
The aerial dogfights are fun, the escort missions are not; primarily due to them requiring you to pilot a transport helicopter or plane and these particular vehicles are slow. It makes for very boring gameplay. It doesn’t help that the campaign has a chock full of escort missions. Bombing runs are not very exciting either as you do not get to witness the carnage as the targets are below you and out of sight. The game is most fun when piloting attack helicopters and airplanes; shooting enemy planes out of the sky and blowing up enemy tanks and anti-air guns.
Get to the choppa!
Unfortunately by the time you are half way through the campaign, you have already done every type of mission object there is to do. So the rest of the game is pretty much the same thing over and over again, just in different areas, that all look horrible, piloting different planes and helicopters. The boring objectives become even more boring further in the game, as they become more frequent (escort missions) and require you to fly something painfully slow (B52 Bombers).
As if that wasn’t enough to suck the fun out of this experience, this game features quite possibly the worse A.I. I’ve seen in a long time. A majority of the time you are paired up with a squad of pilots to help you out with the tasks at hand. Except they don’t help, they don’t do anything at all. Every airplane mission saw my allies fly around and chase after the enemy, yet they never fired a single bullet or missile. They either got shot down or didn’t because I saved them. In the helicopter based missions they would just hover in place or fly in the opposite direction. This resulted in one of the most frustrating moments in the game, where we had to protect three B52 bombers from enemy aircraft. My allied pilots just flew around while the enemies kept shooting down two of the B52s in rapid fashion while I was protecting the third. This lead to multiple unnecessary checkpoint reloads.
Thankfully the game allows you to switch between Joe and the other pilots any time you want during missions. If this feature wasn’t in the game who knows how much longer it would have taken to complete that mission. Also escort missions would have gone from boring to very frustrating, if I couldn’t switch to attack helicopters and take out the enemy AA guns so the cargo chopper could land safely. In the end it still doesn’t excuse the fact that the ally A.I. in this game is horrible.
The sound effects are decent enough, everything sounds authentic, when you fire your airplane cannons, the whirl of the helicopter blades the explosions. The quality of it all just isn’t amazing. The direction for the music in the game is an, odd one to say the least. As you play through the campaign, songs that are clearly from the 1960s-70s are played in the background. If you are into that style of music that’s fine but it is still mind boggling why the developers would have this choice of music playing in a video game that is supposed to be portraying the horrors of the Vietnam War. It does, not, make, sense. To make matters worse, the songs available are limited (less than 5), so it gets repetitive, very repetitive. The game does feature musical scores that actually sound better than what is played during missions and fits the theme of war. Sadly this only played in the main menu and at the end of each mission. I stress this again…it makes no sense.
Once the campaign is over, which should take less than 10 hours to complete for the average skilled gamer, you can then take to the skies in Instant Battle mode. This separate singleplayer mode strips away the narrative and restrictions and allows the player to choose whatever air vehicle they desire and go head to head against enemy aircrafts. Sadly after playing through the campaign, any fun to be had playing this mode is nowhere to be found. The enemies do not offer much of a challenge and it just isn’t fun at this point.
There is also a multiplayer option in Air Conflicts: Vietnam, with support of up to 2 players locally and up to 8 online. Online multiplayer features three competitive modes; Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag. These modes can be played on a total of three maps. Sadly I cannot discuss anything about online play as it is as dead as the spider I crushed on my wall (What? Trust me he had it coming). I managed to find one game but was instantly disconnected and after trying for more than three days I’ve given up at this point. There is simply no online community for this game.
I noticed quite a bit of screen tearing throughout my time with the game’s campaign. There was also the occasional drop in framerate but other than that, the game ran smoothly.
Replay Value: Very Low – Once you’ve completed all 29 missions (if you choose to finish it), there is no incentive to play it again. Instant Action mode is boring and lacking challenge and the chance to find an actual challenge in human players online is rather slim as no one plays it. You can play offline with a friend if you choose but that will get boring as well.
Final Verdict: While fun to play in the beginning, the repetitive and boring missions, horrible A.I., and dirty graphics turn what could have been a great game into a pretty mediocre one. Had the developers manage to deliver a great single player experience, the lack of an online community wouldn’t have made much of a difference. In the end I just can’t recommend this game to anyone. If you are looking for a fun arcade flight game, look elsewhere.
Overall Score: 5/10
RGN Award: Mediocre
Developer: Games Farm
Publisher: bitComposer Games / Kalypso Media USA
Available On: PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.
Played On: Sony PS3
Review Copy info: A digital copy of the game was provided to RealGamerNewz by the publisher for the purpose of this review
Editor’s Note: RealGamerNewZ has moved web servers, some older posts can no longer be commented on and have been preserved without their images. Thank you for your understanding in this matter. This article was written by Jermain Jackson on 20131201 and was last modified on 20131201 .