Review by SMuffinMan
Mostly Unknown, but That Doesn't Make it Bad!
It's a pretty great game, in fact! In this game you get to be any of 5 pilots (or all of, depending on how you fare). I had never heard of this game until recently, which is a shame because Namco did a pretty great job here. It's a sequel to the first Wings on the old Amiga. It is a pretty difficult game, too, which is right up my alley! It may not be for you, though. The learning curve is pretty steep if your cart didn't come with a manual. Play a few missions and you'll figure it out though! It's pretty fun and you're in for a heck of a rollercoaster.
Story - 5/10: Really, the story is nothing special. The pilots come from a couple of different backgrounds but the descriptions in the manual are pretty lax. You're a pilot in World War I, out to destroy Kaiser Wilhelm II's factories and supplies to put a major dent in his war effort. That's about it really, but you'll eventually be facing off with Germany's greatest pilot, perhaps the world's in the end, and throughout the game have to fend off against his famous Flying Circus. As it is set during World War I, you'll be using biplanes from the Royal Air Force.
Gameplay - 8/10: This game has three different kinds of missions. For one type, you have to fend off against other planes as they try to gang up on you to take you down in a dogfight. These missions become harder and harder as they throw more skilled pilots as the game progresses. Green planes have the least skilled pilots, followed by blue, then red, then white, with black planes being the most skilled. You'll have to fly in circles, up and down, all over the place to get these guys, especially the black planes. These guys are mean and are very skilled at dodging gunfire. Since this is a biplane you're flying, you can only shoot what's directly in front of the plane's nose. Enemies here can be pretty tricky with throwing you off, and the better skilled pilots often like to do a sort of vertical boomerang just to get away from you.
Another type is a bombing mission, where you fly far overhead an area (though you may fly lower if you so desire) and bomb strategic military sites. During these you'll also have to watch out for anti-aircraft attacks coming from soldiers on the ground. You'll look at a photograph of the target before the mission so you know where to strike. You can't turn around during these missions though, so once you've passed the target, that's a wrap!
The third type of mission is what the game calls a "strafing run". You fly at a low altitude during these missions, and you have to wipe our targets that are described for you in the mission briefing beforehand. These missions in particular can be pretty difficult because you fly at such a high speed. Miss too many targets and you fail the mission.
After completing each mission, you'll have the chance to improve your plane's handling, firepower, and so on in the barracks. After each mission you'll get a results screen, rating your performance. If you perform well enough (taking out your intended targets and then some), you'll receive a medal! The more you get, the higher your military ranking (which doesn't account for anything, it's just for good fun, especially for completionists). You'll also get a password before starting your next mission.
Dying will kill off one of your pilots, and if you fail a couple of missions with a pilot, they get fired!
The physics in this game are pretty realistic as well so you'll need a good grasp of the controls.
Controls - 7/10: Y is to shoot, B is to brake, A is to accelerate. In bombing missions, however, the only real useful button is the R-button, which works ONLY in these missions, that drops bombs. For the other two mission types though, Y, B, and A are what you'll be using. Up is to go down, down is go up, since this is a flight simulator afterall. Try not to come down too hard so you don't nose dive. You also don't want to try and increase your altitude too soon, or you will stall. A good way to increase speed is to turn to the side and head towards the ground at a light angle. This way you'll pick up speed but you also won't plummet to the Earth. You can also hold left or right for a while to do a barrel roll, but be sure you don't do this too close to the ground, because doing a barrel roll will lower your altitude considerably. The physics take some time getting used to but you'll get it eventually! You'll be going in lots of circles for the dogfights, trust me. To turn left you actually alter the level of your plane between vertical and horizontal, so be sure to be careful.
The controls can take a while to master, as they should. Despite the graphics, it's a pretty realistic game. Though it should be noted, that this game has no first-person view. It's all third-person with the exception of the bombing missions, which are carried out in a bird's-eye view.
Music - 10/10: There's not many tracks in this game, but they fit very well and sound great. Sounds like something you'd expect from an old movie/documentary about pilots in World War I, especially because of the horns. The soundtrack all sounds very regal and it's pretty invigorating. It gives the game a strong but not overbearing charm to it. Even if the music itself isn't your cup of tea (darn kids get off my lawn!), it's undeniable that it helps set a great atmosphere for the game.
Graphics - 7/10: The backgrounds in this game look fantastically rendered, mainly the skyline with beautiful mountains and some clouds here and there. It's pretty pleasant to look at overall. There is one little issue though, that is kind of messed up. All of the buildings in the bombing missions look pretty generic. Some of your targets will be pretty massive but in one or two of them, it just looks like another small house amongst other small houses. Then things like train tracks look pretty flat.
The planes are sort of a double-eged sword. On one hand, they're all palette swaps. On the other hand, they're biplanes! Most of them do look the same in real life as well.
Overall - 7/10: This game was a lot better than I was expecting, for some reason. I do love flight sims but I had no idea this one was going to be as good as it was. Once you're into it, it's pretty hard to turn off. Though, I imagine the difficulty might be a turn off to some people, it's pretty intense. So consider yourself warned before you give it a shot! You can't rent SNES games anymore, so you'll have to pick this one up off of eBay or something. Copies of this only cost a few bucks, so what do you have to lose!?
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Wings 2: Aces High (US, 10/31/92)
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