Air Conflicts: Aces of World War II Review
Air Conflict: Aces of World War II has earned a few distinctions in the annals of PSP gaming. The first is that it's the first straight PC to PSP game port I've ever played, and I imagine the first to appear on the system. Unfortunately, the developers didn't bother to compensate for the difference in screen size between the typical PC monitor and the PSP's screen. Everything from the menus to the mission briefings to your aiming reticule is absolutely tiny and difficult to see. The second distinction is that it has the longest load times of any PSP game I've ever played, even putting the first Midnight Club game to appear on the system to shame. This is probably due to a lack of knowledge of UMD optimization on the part of a bunch of PC gamers, but whatever the reason the net effect is that you'll spend more time with the game listening to your UMD drive whir than you will actually playing the game. Lastly, it's the most it's one of the most difficult PSP games I've ever played, and not at all in a good way. Terrible mission design and unforgiving difficulty, not to mention trouble seeing what's going on, pretty much make the whole thing an exercise in frustration.
The first mission in the game will probably cure anyone of any desire to spend time with the game. First of all, it's historically ridiculous, which I could look past if it was fun, but it decidedly is not. You fly CAP for four freighters out in the middle of the ocean in a P-38 all by your lonesome when you're set upon by eight Bf-109s that immediately go for the freighters. If you're not sure what that all means, take my word for it that it's ludicrous. Anyway, your job is to protect the freighters, which, by the way, is next to impossible. You'll fly into the squadron of 109s and maybe take one out while the rest ignore you completely. While you're making your first turn to come back around, the remaining enemy fighters will drop into a strafing run on the freighters and sink them in seconds. Then you'll have to wait over a minute for the mission menu to load again, select the mission again, and then have to wait over a minute while the mission reloads again. And your reward for all of this? You get to fail the mission in 37 seconds again (the post mission briefing screen seemed to always indicate that my failure took 37 seconds). I can't even tell you how many times I played that mission, the very first mission in the game. I can tell you that if I wasn't playing the game as a review I would have given up on it a lot sooner. There are four campaigns in the game, but so what? That just means that there are more terrible missions to hate. The game features a Russian campaign, but who wants to torture themselves with a long series of frustrating missions for the right to play some more frustrating missions with a tiny Russian plane on the screen. There aren't any World War II flight sims on the PSP, and, well, after this one there might not be another one.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 10%. Air Conflict isn't worth the money even if you're paid to play it.