It may feel like World War II games have been done to death, but City Interactive hopes to breathe new life into the crowded space of games covering the conflict between the Allies and the Axis by capturing the essence of what makes flying fun – and for creative director Jakub Majewski, that means making Combat Wings: The Great Battles of World War II more like Wing Commander…
“It was a very different kind of air combat compared to what we have today. The normal range at which you really wanted to open fire was at fifteen meters. So it was much more intense,” explains Majewski. In fact, close quarter air combat in World War II meant that sometimes, pilots would actually see the faces of the people they were trying to gun down out of the sky.
And that’s where Wing Commander comes into play for Majewski. “I remember, especially from the 1990s, the Wing Commander series, which everybody says was basically World War II in space. The combat there was really close. Not only could you crash into enemies, but you could also get really close to them and shoot them when their planes were taking up half the screen.” Majewski doesn’t like the way that air combat titles have turned into a game of chasing dots across the screen. He wants air combat to feel real, up close, and personal – the way it was in World War II – and the way it was during the halcyon days of flightsticks, keyboard, and Wing Commander.
You can see what City Interactive is aiming for when using the Ace Mode feature. Activate it, and it’ll give you a helping hand with aiming, helping you gun down enemy fighters left and right. Your Ace Mode won’t last forever, of course; it regenerates slowly over time. But when used in quick controlled bursts, it’ll be your best friend when flying through skies littered with planes gunning at you from all angles.
But the honeymoon ended once we started sampling Combat Wings’ other mission types that veered away from plane-on-plane violence. Although dog fighting felt fun throughout our time with an early build, a bombing mission we ran felt surprisingly imprecise and unforgiving, resulting in frequent failures and crashes. The precision required for bombing felt awkward and was especially frustrating after tasting the title’s more forgiving and arcadey air battles. Another frustrating mission found us trying to fend off enemy fighter planes in a slow bomber while desperately trying to land the clunky plane on a runway in the forest.
City Interactive is aiming for a release before the end of the year – and if the studio can make bombing runs and landing as fun as air combat (or at the very least, less painful), we think it’ll have the chance to shape up into a decent flight game that sits a little more on the arcadey action side of the World War II game fence. The game will release on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 (with Move support), PC, and Wii. Of course, the screenshots on show in the gallery below are more indicative of what you can expect from the 360, PS3, and PC version.
Sep 20, 2011