Games consoles are not your go to place if you want to get your combat flight sim fix, firstly there really is not many to choose from, and secondly those which do exist, pale in comparison to what is available on PCs. Sure there are plenty of average arcade style combat flight sims, Crimson Skies, Ace Combat and Blazing Angels and one fairly decent attempt at a slightly more sim based one in, IL-2 Sturmovik, but the pickings are slim.
Ace Maddox the team behind…….. erm, seemingly nothing thus far, have released on Xbox One and PS4, Flying Tigers: Shadows over China. For a very reasonable £15.19, for this you get a dozen single player missions about a theatre of war, which nobody really knows much about and therefore sparks little interest, and a 16 plane multiplayer dogfight option.
This game is a bizarre one, clearly made by a small team without a great deal of budget. Some things make this apparent, such as the basic menu screens and diabolical music, which I may add, is completely out-of-place. The flight mechanics, whilst on the whole are pretty decent, occasionally throw some strange newton defying physics, such as the plane stalling and just hanging in the air, kick in more throttle and it somehow accelerates vertically into the sky and your back on your way. These negatives however are by no way a game breaker, the sound in particular is exceptional, with each plane sounding very different and, to my ears anyhow, authentic. The graphics are very pleasing, particularly for a game of this price point. Aircraft models are very good, as are the textures, the worlds in which you inhabit are fine, if a little bland, without enough variation in the colour palette. Mission structure is standard some dogfights, some bombing runs. Most missions appear quite short and that is maybe why they did what, for me, is the biggest problem with the game. Shooting down another aircraft seems to take forever, each enemy aircraft has an energy bar, when it has almost depleted smoke will pour from the plane, once the bar has depleted the aircraft explodes, it looks nice but they all look the same.
In 1998 I played Janes WWII Fighters on a PC, 20 years ago, when I shot at an enemy aircraft, bits flew off, volumetric smoke flew out of whichever engine I had struck, the pilot bailed out, realistic clouds obscured my view. I guess my point is that nothing has really progressed in the last 20 years. Combat flight simulators will always be a niche market on consoles, the very nature of this type of game is simplistic, but maybe developers could peak our interests by giving us the bells and whistles, I have a love for WWII history, I adore aircraft, I even like flight sims and combat flight sims, but its time for some progression, this genre needs some love.