Review by MasterKoren

"Solid Arcade Style Flight Sim"

WIng Arms was an early Saturn release that really showed off what the system was capable of doing. Back in 1995, a World War II flight simulator was an idea that was far more fresh than it is today. Wing Arms takes obvious influence from realistic 3D flight sims and arcade style shooters such as 1942. The mix works well and brings a solid, if short, experience.

At a glance:
Gameplay: 9/10: Fun, diverse game that appeals to all gamers.
Control: 9/10: Tight, but lacks the depth of a true flight sim.
Graphics: 8/10: Excellent 3D for the time, but not the best we'd ever seen.
Sound: 7/10: Nothing spectacular but nothing bad either.

Pros: Solid gameplay, easy to pick up and play, solid visuals
Cons: Very short at six levels, arcade style approach may not appeal to everyone

Introduction

You're greeted to the game first by a nicely done FMV of a huge enemy force bombing your home port. After selecting your game, you are briefed by your captain on the situation. A nation calling itself Avalon has declared war on the world and has just destroyed the majority of your fleet. Your aircraft carrier, the Endeavor, has escaped however. The finest pilots from all over world have been assembled along with the finest aircraft. Now its up to you to save the world.

Gameplay: 9/10

The gameplay in Wing Arms is good solid fun. There are seven planes to choose from, and each one handles and preforms differently. There's the American P38 Lightning, P51 Mustang, and the F6F Hellcat; German Messerschmit ME62 jet; Japanese Zero and Shinden; and the Brittish Spitfire. Each plane is different in size, speed, handling characteristics, armour, and armament. While the game only has six levels, they are all challenging and each plane offers a different experience each time. Every plane comes with guns and missles, a "shield" meter, and a couple of lives. While each plane has a varying amount of 'shield' energy, all of them can take quite a punishment. Each of the six levels are different and offer challenging objectives ranging from chasing enemy planes high-speed down a narrow canyon to defending your aircraft carrier from enemy bombers and destroyers. As with most arcade style games, you fly the whole game alone against an entire armada of enemies ranging from scout fighters to battleships. Every plane and ship represented in the game is historically accurate, and is listed in a small index avaible in the main menu.

There are three camera viewpoints to chose from. The default, and reccomended, viewpoint is the cockpit. The cockpit supplies you with a targeting reticule for your guns, and places your HUD right into the cockpit to give it a rather natural look. Then there is the 3rd person chase view, and 3rd person front view. Going into 3rd person will show off the impressive model of your plane but it will cost you accuracy in dogfights. The rear view is mostly useless, but it gives you a great view of the plane. When an enemy gets close up on your tail, the camera jumps to the enemey's chase view, allowing you to easily escape his sights.

The difficulty of the game is variable, similar to an arcade game. The first few levels will be a breeze even for a first timer. The next two levels will give newer players some major problems, and even experienced ones some challenge. The last levels will truley test your gaming skills with overwhelming odds in your enemy's favor. Fortunately there are continues, so it's not impossible to get to the end. It will be a good challenge for new and experienced gamers alike. It's a non-frustrating difficulty that makes you want to win more, not throw the controller into the TV.

Control: 9/10

As far as flight goes in this game, it has an arcade-style flavour. Control is simple, left and right turn you left and right, up and down pull up and down. You can barrel roll, but you have no control over yaw angle. This gives the control a similar feel to games like Rogue Squadron. It works perfectly for the casual gamer, however flight sim fans may find the lack of yaw control annoying and even difficult. Fortunately there won't be any situations where you feel "out of control" and the game is very forgiving on ground collision. Everything is set up on the controller well so you won't be reaching around to much to do what you need to do. Firing missles is the only thing that's a bit difficult to do, due to button placement.

Graphics: 8/10

The graphics in this game are solid for the system. As I mentioned before, this game was an early Saturn release. For the time, it was really groundbreaking to see such clear 3D in a videogame. Overall everything is modeled very well. However, these high detail models only show up when you're fairly close. LOD models look comparatively poor and they have no fade-in whatsoever. The draw distance is a bit short, but nothing game breaking. The textures look pixilated today, but for the time they look quite adequate. The cockpit interiors for each plan look good and each one is different. As your plane takes damage, bullet holes appear on the glass and instruments can become cracked. Basic shading is incorporated on the models as well, most noticable when doing a barrel roll. The best feature of the graphics, however, is the performance. The game almost never studders in it's solid framerate. There is one level where you fly over a city. On this level there are tons of little jet fighters buzzing around the sky, and one really big bomber. Even with all of this on screen, the game did not lag whatsoever which is impressive to say the least. The game has FMVs which are detailed and clean for the time. It wasn't absolutely groundbreaking stuff to look at back then, but it was impressive nonetheless.

Sound: 7/10

The sounds in the game are solid and diverse. Every plane has a different engine sound and each level it's own music theme. However, it's nothing spectacular. The music is rather stock but nothing bad. The sound effects are rather quiet and conservative as well. While there's nothing wrong with that, action game fans typically like loud and aggressive sounds.

Final Thoughts

I used to love playing this game as a kid. It was fun then, and it still is fun today. It's not a realistic game at all. The arcade feel will allow gamers of all types and ages enjoy. World War 2 buffs will enjoy the historic use of actual fighters and aircraft as well. Wing Arms isn't a terribly hard to find game either. It's worth it for a Saturn collector to dig this relic up.

Final Score: 8/10


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/25/08

Game Release: Wing Arms (US, 12/31/95)


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