Flight simulator games are my guilty pleasure, from Microsofts Flight Sim on PC to the fantastic Ace Combat series, I’ve played and loved them all so when Air Conflicts: Vietnam Ultimate Edition was released on PlayStation 4, i was anxious to give it a whirl.
The base game was released last year on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC but it never really hit off with the critics so when i found that developers bitComposer Games was planning on porting an enhanced version over exclusively to PlayStation 4, i knew i had to find out for myself.
Set amidst the Vietnam War, the campaign revolves around Joe Thompson, a U.S. Air Force pilot set out on numerous daring and dangerous missions to assist his country to win this deadly skirmish. He must deal death from above and provide air support as well as devastated the Vietcong’s advances. The story is told from Joe himself as he reads out letters written to his beloved family back home, but as intricate and as heartfelt as the story sounds, its execution is nothing but sloppy. Joe sounds lifeless with next to no emotion resounding from his voice and the cut-scenes are painful to watch with the robotic character models and hideous presentation. New to the Ultimate Edition is a kind of extension to the story with “Lost Letters” mode which puts you once again in the cockpit as Nguyen An Toon who is a Vietnamese ace, it tells the story from a different perspective, but not very well.
The game-play is no better unfortunately. You begin by choosing one of a set of aircraft specific for that mission before selecting your preferred load out after which its aces high. The flying controls are relatively quick and easy to master and the new inclusion of “Simulator mode” adds to the realism of piloting a fighter plane. The enemy AI however is surprisingly smart managing to exploit error at every opportunity, this makes the action tense and stopping them from getting behind you becomes your main focus. This isn’t a good thing unfortunately as you always want to be in the heat of battle shooting down the enemy but instead you always find yourself in a sky high game of cat and mouse. Once you have the enemy locked on, you’re free to use whichever weapon you choose. Machine guns are most effective as they unrealistically manage to fire directly at the locked on enemy enabling easy kills, even planes of today struggle to do this, if they can do it at all! Choppers are no better, making you feel like you’re piloting an armed hovercraft. Missions require repeated tasks of bombing, dog-fighting or supporting as well as landing, none of which kept my interest and got tedious very quickly meaning i dreaded the next mission. Online was more of a challenge and was a breath of fresh air away from the single player atrocities and dogfights played impressively smooth.
Even though i am reviewing the game on a PlayStation 4 system, i couldn’t help but think PSOne when considering the visuals. Blocky textures, bland colours and little to look at makes this easily the ugliest game on the PS4 to date. A bold daring statement but it is very true and simply unforgivable considering the power that the PS3 has under its bonnet. The entire game felt like a prebuild to something better, it felt like an alpha test version.
My words have been harsh on this game but i find it hard to believe that this game is exclusive to an extremely powerful machine. Air Conflicts: Vietnam Ultimate Edition is the bottom of the barrel in the PS4’s library with its unremarkable and forgettable messy story, PSOne era visuals and badly executed flight mechanics. Avoid.
Story - 2/5
Graphics - 1/5
Gameplay - 2/5
Overall - 2/5
Version Reviewed - PlayStation 4