E3 2011 – Combat Wings: The Great Battles of WWII preview

Heat-seeking missiles are for little girls

The moment we sat down to check out the latest preview on Combat Wings: The Great Battles of WWII, the developers hit us with something we didn%26rsquo;t expect %26ndash; they think that modern flight-simulators are boring. All of them. According to these fellows, piloting an F-22 at two times the speed of sound is a veritable snooze-fest and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles are for pussies. The real action happened back in the 1940%26rsquo;s, when planes were flown by real men. Men who would often guide their aircraft to within a mere handful of yards from one another to get a killing shot and would laugh in the face of death %26ndash; so on and so forth.

To be honest, this take on the flight-sim did have us somewhat intrigued. The idea of being able to look an enemy pilot in the eyes before letting loose on the machine guns sounds pretty enticing. As the name implies, Combat Wings will be focusing on the various historical air campaigns of World War II, but this isn%26rsquo;t limited to just one faction. The game is set to have four campaigns, which will have 30 individual missions total. This got us wondering %26ndash; how far will publisher/developer City Interactive go? Will we be seeing players taking on the role of kamikaze pilots at the battle of Pearl Harbor, for instance? City was fairly tight-lipped on the subject, so it looks like we%26rsquo;ll have to wait and see.

The demonstration opened up with a mission taking place over the forests of Russia. It was here that the exhibitor showed off some of the combat mechanics in the game. Every one of the 60 playable planes in Combat Wings will receive structural damage based upon where they take fire. For instance, targeting an enemy%26rsquo;s fuselage may cause the engine to explode, while shooting up the cockpit could instantly kill the pilot and simply cause the plane to lose control and crash.

Combat Wings also features a pretty cool slow-motion kill-cam effect that will occur during combat to show off some of your more spectacular enemy take-downs. Another nifty feature was an auto-track function for newer players. In a nutshell, City Interactive believes that newcomers may find their first instances with air combat a little disorienting, so players can now automatically follow enemy planes or just level out their own flight path with the press of a button. The exhibitor demonstrated by targeting an enemy bi-plane and then holding down the auto-track button, at which point his plane automatically followed along the flight-path of the targeted plane.

The second mission demonstrated was the Battle of Iwo Jima, where the exhibitor was tasked with protecting a fleet of naval carriers from attacking kamikaze pilots. This instance in the demonstration was particularly impressive what with the frenetic air battles taking place above as the carriers bombarded the mainland below. Likewise, the planes and surrounding environments showed off a fairly impressive level of detail; however, the game did seem to have some problems with objects on the ground frequently popping in and out of existence whenever the player moved a certain distance away %26ndash; better polish that up before release.



Aside from the single-player campaign, flight-sim enthusiasts will also get to enjoy a competitive multiplayer. Unfortunately, City Interactive was unable to state whether or not the game will feature a cooperative mode. It looks like the developer is hoping to squeeze some sort of co-op function into the game before the intended release date.

Combat Wings: The Great Battles of World War II will be released this upcoming September for the PC, 360, PS3 and Wii. So far, the gameplay comes across as advertised %26ndash; visceral, close-quarters air combat in the midst of the chaos of World War II%26rsquo;s most historical battles. If you%26rsquo;re a fan of the flight-sims or are looking to cut your teeth on the genre, Combat Wings may be just the game for you this fall.

Jun 16, 2011

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