What would Baron Manfred von Richthofen make of the fact that people are playing games based on his aerial exploits over 90 years after his death? It’s possible he wouldn’t appreciate it at all, given that he slammed his own ghostwritten autobiography for being ‘too arrogant’. He wanted to be remembered as a man who was doing his duty. But there’s no getting away from the fact that tearing around the sky in a war machine made out of cloth and sticks is going to make a hero of you. Better get used to it.
It also makes for excellent electronic entertainment: Wings of Honour: Battles of the Red Baron is splendidly simple (point where you want to go with the mouse, shoot) and overburdened with fun (explosions, machinegun chatter, dogfights, dive-bombing, etc). You’ll find it no problem at all to zoom about the war-torn landscapes, dropping death upon enemy encampments, shooting up convoys, knocking down air balloons, and all the other exciting things that WWI fighter aces did in their day at the office. While there’s not much to the game as a whole, with just a few weapons and bunch of ultra-simple objective-driven campaign maps to work through, there are some neat flourishes. For example there are AI wingmen to command as you fly. Or, if you’re the type of pilot with excitable friends, you can set up multiplayer games and enjoy Red Baronial fun together.
The one thing we can’t quite see the point of is the ‘freeplay’ option, which allows you to simply fly around the large maps. It’s not quite pretty enough for that, which is one of the drawbacks of the game as a whole: it looks old, and we’ve played this kind of ultra-simple aerial shooter a dozen times in the last few years. It’s an enjoyable, well-tuned game, but it’s a bit of a paper aeroplane: a cheap and quick escape from boredom, but ultimately rather flimsy.
Jul 30, 2008