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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

Xbox One X
Nintendo Switch
PlayStation 4

Game Profile
Game Boy
Metro 3D
GENRE: Simulation
PLAYERS:   1-4
February 11, 2003
 Written by Jeff Milligan  on March 10, 2003

Review: "Gentlemen, you will regret this."

It's 1914. Germany is at war with the Allied forces, with Great Britain leading the way. The first plane was successfully flown a mere decade ago, yet they're already being used in the war. Pilots to fly the planes are in high demand, yet soldiers willing to take the risk are low in supply. This is your chance to take part in something that very few in the world have ever experienced. You've got the talent, the stamina, and the qualifications; all that's left is to decide whether to support the struggle against tyranny with the Allied forces, or to be one more soldier in an already massive German movement.

This is usually where the bell rings and all of you rush for the door to escape this dreaded history lesson, but today's lesson is more than just history, it's also the theme of the game in this review. Originally released some time ago for the Amiga, Wings is a fighter-pilot simulation that puts players right in the middle of the First World War. After you choose which side to fight for, you will be able to choose your pilot. If you create your own pilot, you can choose how you want to distribute his stat points. These points can also be earned later in the game to further enhance your pilots' capabilities by satisfactorily completing missions. Before each mission, the player is briefed from their commanding officer, and is given an objective. Complete the mission and you'll be well rewarded; fail and your fate won't be so nice. Of course, you have the final option, which is death, but then you have to start a new pilot, and that's no fun. Wings features 3 different types of levels in the single player mode; strafing, bombing-runs, and dog-fights, each of which have their own controls and gameplay elements.

The first (and most common) type of level is dog-fighting, which is unfortunate because these are the levels with the most problems. Players are given a first-person view of the skies in dog-fights, and the objective is usually to protect or destroy air-balloons, or to protect or destroy other planes. The default first-person view isn't the greatest, as your own aircrafts' parts block some of your viewing area. Luckily this can be done away with by pressing the B button and getting a clear view of the sky, so no real harm done there. However, there is a big problem with the controls for dog-fights. Instead of just being able to turn left or right, you're forced to turn your aircraft on its side, and then turn. This makes aiming your guns horribly difficult, and often times the easiest of missions are ruined by this. If you do manage to draw a nice aim on your target, don't worry, after firing a few shots off your guns will lock up and your enemy will blow by you. Oh, and let's not forget about the invisible aircraft that can run into you from behind, causing your plane to crash and kill your pilot. It's easy to see why dog-fights aren't my favorite of Wings' levels.

The second type of level is strafing, which usually entails nothing more than flying into enemy territory and destroying as much as possible. This may sound boring, but oddly enough strafing is the best part of Wings. Players are given an isometric view of things, which is both easy to use, and efficiently executed. The controls are again a bit shaky, but it's nowhere near as bad as the dog-fights. You also don't have the ammo locking problem in strafing modes, as you are given an unlimited supply. The A button is your fire button as it is in all the modes, but in strafing mode the B button will give your plane a speed boost, which is great appreciated, especially when under heavy fire. Strafing levels are completed by either destroying a certain amount of targets, or by running out of fuel. The one thing that isn't very nice is the fact that certain objects cannot be blown up, or your mission fails. Remember, WWI wasn't about total destruction like WWII was; it instead still had some of the rules of war intact. Buildings such as hospitals and churches cannot be touched by gunfire. This idea is fine and all, but the problem is sometimes these buildings are hard to identify. Obviously you'll want to stay away from the buildings with the big red crosses on them, but you may be quick to blow up the building next to it, which can be a no-no. Sometimes the only way to know for sure if a building is a safe target or not is to shoot at it. If you fail your mission you know not to destroy it next time.

The final mission type is bombing, which is similar to the strafing mode. Players are given a certain target, or set of targets to fly over and bomb. You'll notice the same shaky controls from the strafing mode, and the viewpoint is similar as well, except now you look straight down at the plane. Bombing mode is very basic, and is easily the most non-frustrating of the levels. The one drawback is that often times your targets aren't clearly described in your briefing. You'll have a chance to see the area on a map before you set out, and your bombing area will be circled for you. However, your targets may lie outside of the circle, and it's up to you to find out what you missed when your mission doesn't end when you thought you were done.

Wings' graphics are the same as its gameplay, average. One thing that you may notice is the lack of color in the planes at far distances. It might not sound like much, but when the color of the plane is the only thing that identifies allies from enemies, it tends to mess things up. You may think you're shooting at a red German plane from afar, but when you get close up and notice the 3 circles on the planes' tail, you may get angry.

The sound department is a mixed result. On the one hand you have the basic motor engine and gun shot effects that any game can pull off. Then on the other hand you have moments where absolute masterpieces are played. These masterpieces include the Bugs Bunny symphony, err, I mean Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries.

There are some cool extras throughout the game, but only if you thought history class was interesting (a.k.a. you were a nerd) like I did. Every once in awhile you'll see some of the original German propaganda posters and things like this, which is pretty nifty. Wings' also features a multiplayer mode, where 2-4 friends can link up and battle each other in dog-fight mode. Of course, we all know by now the horrors of dog-fights, so this isn't all that great of an addition.

Bottom Line
Having a keen interest in history, and especially of the World Wars, I was excited to get a chance to play Wings. However, once I discovered some of the games flaws (especially the control scheme), all hopes I had of enjoyment were destroyed. Some of the extras included are great pieces of history, but unfortunately have nothing to do with the gameplay. If you're a history or airplane fanatic and want to see Wings for yourself, give it a rental.

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