Air Conflicts: Vietnam was published by little known company ‘bitComposer Games‘, known for ‘Jagged Alliance‘ and ‘Citadels‘ in conjunction with Kalypso, creators of ‘Dark‘ and Ubisoft the creators of ‘Splinter Cell‘ and the popular ‘Far Cry‘ series. After playing this game it does beg the question just how much influence Ubisoft and Kalypso actually had in the development of this title.
For instance after enjoying the cell-shaded graphics of Kalypso’s Dark’ game, it was slightly disappointing to see only the planes themselves looking partly polished. Something you would expect in a game like this would be beautiful scenery, flying across well-defined Vietnam countryside. Instead it seemed to be a rough sketch/beta of what could have been.
Whilst it is a good game for those interested in the history of the Vietnam conflict, and flight simulator fans, it will never become a main-stream game. Newcomers to the genre will find the first mission quite difficult as they will need to learn the tricks and how to use all the different camera angles. For example, entering ‘bomb view mode’ will certainly make destroying villages easier, but players must remember that they will have to still pilot the craft whilst staring directly at the ground below.
The background music for the in-game missions is enjoyable but it is drowned out by the roar of the aircrafts engines that makes it almost impossible to hear. The controls seem a little clunky here and there, the use of the left and right bumpers to perform evasive maneuvers are very intuitive. But pressing both of them to do a barrel roll when you can perform this move simply by holding back on the left stick makes one wonder why it’s there. The time it takes to do either is similar in time so it is not much of a shortcut.
For those who aren’t used to air combat simulators, this game will certainly come as somewhat of a shock (flying a plane in GTA V doesn’t count). There is somehow a very cathartic feel to flying in this game, once you’ve gotten used to the controls it has the ability to let you lay back and unwind to a game, brilliant in it’s simplicity.
The attention to detail has the power to bring a player further into a title, or take them out. Whilst previewing the UH-1 Iroquois “Huey” aircraft, it has some in-depth specifications detailing speed, weight and service dates. But it also showed rotary blades that were comically large and cut through the rear propeller which would never happen for obvious reasons.
In conclusion I would not suggest this game for a player looking to dip their toes into the fighter pilot game, though I would for people interested in the Vietnam conflict and who were hardcore flight fans. It has a good length first-person campaign to go through and the multi-player allows for up to 8 people in a single game.