Saturday, February 23

Review: Warplanes - WW2 Dogfighting [Nintendo Switch eShop]

It can be odd when playing (or especially reviewing) games how you can come out of the gate feeling one thing and then end up with a very different feel given some time. While sometimes you’ll hit cases where an experience is dodgy to start but then gets better with time, more often than not things work in the opposite direction. That’s very much the case with Warplanes: WW2 Dogfighting, a budget aerial combat game that makes a pretty great first impression but then fails to have enough depth to maintain that initial level of excitement.

What absolutely works well for the title is the aerial combat itself. Though you’re unable to do any fancy maneuvers like loops or rolls, even at the press of a button as some games have done, the watered down combat still manages to be pretty fun. Being able to switch between your fighters and bombers manages to both keep things fresh and allows for variety. In particular I like that your bomber, perhaps a bit unrealistically, can do pretty well for itself against enemy fighters as you can move between the forward guns and your rear-facing turret.

In general, once you get rolling, you’ll move through the game getting to choose between missions categorized as offense, defense, naval, and special. Each of these mission types will then reward you with bonus rewards of a specific type, whether silver, gold, fuel drums, or medals. These different currencies are each used for different key purposes, whether hiring and training pilots, purchasing, upgrading or repairing your aircraft, improving your base of operations, or boosting some core elements like increasing the amount of rewards you may get for specific missions. There’s then a means of exchanging some of the currencies for one another to help ensure you’re able to cover your needs. While this system is at least interesting I’d also unfortunately say it ends up being overly complicated and cumbersome as well, and wastes a bit too much time on tedium rather than letting people enjoy the action itself.

Where things fall apart a bit more is that rather than have more structured campaigns or a storyline to give you a sense of purpose the game opts to simply give you freedom to do whatever you like. While that may sound good in principle it also quickly ends up making it all feel a bit aimless. To a degree that gripe also applies to the nature of some of the things you can upgrade, as it’s hard to tell what value there is in upgrading certain parts of your base or in improving your pilots’ skills or your planes. There’s no doubt some incremental benefit, and some new planes obviously are more desirable, but it’s all sort of random trial and error rather than being driven by clear purpose. This leaves you to simply decide to come back for more for its own sake rather than being compelled by seeing what will happen next.

Overall, there’s nothing terribly wrong with Warplanes, and I think that the most crucial aspect of the game, the combat itself, is handled admirably. There’s a thrill to shooting down enemy planes and bombing targets that it does a solid job of capturing. It’s unfortunately outside of that thrill where things get more muddled and lacking in direction but if you don’t mind defined objectives being laid out for you getting new aircraft and boosting stats here and there may be enough fun in itself for you. While it may have some issues for a budget price it’s hard to find serious faults, I just wish it provided more direction and motivation.

Score: 7

  • Engaging aerial combat
  • Plenty of room for choice in what planes you decide to buy and where you upgrade things
  • A budget price

  • The lack of any campaign or story leaves you without anything driving you forward outside of just enjoying the combat
  • A variety of commodities are interesting I suppose but the need to exchange them and each having its own dedicated purpose is needlessly complicated
  • It can be hard to identify the benefit of certain upgrades and equipment you can buy, which can be frustrating