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AeroFighters Assault Review

Publisher - Nintendo
Developer - Paradigm Ent./Mc'ORiver Inc.
Platform - N64
Type - Flying
Score - 5/10

AeroFighters is a new game from the people who gave us Pilotwings. Unlike their first game, Aero Fighters is not just a flight sim, but also a fast paced air combat game. Technically, it was supposed to be a speedy combat game, but it's not.

Here's the plot: There's a terrorist group known as Phutta Morgana and they're melting the polar ice caps, causing coastal cities to flood. In the confusion, world governments are spreading their resources thin, trying to quell the damage and save the populace. The United Nations has a small, elite team of AeroFighters who will take up the slack and defend the world from the bad guys. YOU and only you can save the world. I know, it's always up to you. What if you took a vacation? End of the world? We may never know. So suit up, get in that cockpit, and blow 'em out of the sky.

I dunno about you, but that sounds like a dandy plot for a video game. I can smell the burning wreckage now. Unfortunately, AeroFighters is nine parts flight sim and one part action. This game has a good flight sim engine, but it doesn't have the pace that it needs to make it as an action game.

This game makes the cut graphically. The engagement areas look nifty and are well designed. The 3D models for the ultratech enemy bosses and other enemies sure look cool. Even the jets look spiffy. AeroFighters also rings true with boss transparent smoke trails shooting backwards from missiles, and swell explosion where debris flings wildly through the air. The display is laden with all sorts of technical-lookin' gauges and bars and numbers, oh my. The one thing that doesn't work graphically is speed. Frankly, there is none.

No matter what speed you are traveling at, no matter how many times you press the afterburners, this game always moves at the same speed. It's not a problem of having poor flight mechanics, the sim engine is peachy, the game just moves slowly. This is the flaw that resonates through the entire game. You don't approach or follow enemies fast enough to feel like you're involved in a dogfight. You also have no real visual cues as to when you're approaching or close to the surface of the Earth. As you get closer to the ground, objects should appear to pass you more quickly. At higher altitudes, things should not only look smaller, but they'll appear not to move at enormous speeds. If you've ever been on a airplane (and were sitting in a window seat), you may have noticed what the ground looked like during take off, and what it looked like half way through the trip. AeroFighters is always in high-altitude mode. This is weird because Pilotwings nailed this effect.

AeroFighters also does not have a swell score like Pilotwings. I really dug the funky midi tracks that backed up Paradigm's first 64-bit outing. The music wasn't spectacular, but it fit the game so well. The music in this game didn't do anything for me. The gun noises and explosions were ok, but they had the rumble pak to make them seem more believable.

The two player mode does manage to be fun even if the rest of the game moves sluggishly. The game furnishes three combat zones, all of which are decent settings for a dogfight. The only drawback of this game is that the controls allow too much freedom. If bothered me that Starfox's flying engine took too much control away. AeroFighters has that problem in reverse. The game give you a detailed and complex simulation engine. It'll take a large investment of time to learn to control your ship, much less use it effectively against an opponent. I'm not saying that head to head dogfights in this game aren't any fun, I just want to make it clear that you're not really gonna get into it until you're blown some time mastering the craft of aeronautics. You can jump right into Starfox after 10 minutes of training. AeroFighters will take you at least a week or so of practice.

This is a game that may appeal to flight sim fan, but it doesn't have the goods to make it as a heart-pounding thriller. I'm have to recommend that you don't spend your money on AeroFighters unless you're a big flight simulation fan. If you're looking for an arcade thrill, check out Starfox and Star Wars.