Better than a boondoggle.
As the third installment in the Air Conflicts series, Vietnam takes players chronologically from the World Wars from the first two titles to the war in its name. It's not a complicated flight simulation, but more of an arcade shooter that places players into the cockpit of historically accurate planes and helicopters. In fact, publisher Kalypso is attempting to get an endorsement from the History Channel, which it hopes will go through by the time the game ships.
This time around, players will fill the role of a generally named Joe Thompson, an ensign, who leads a squad composed of new recruits or "cherries" as they were called during that era. Every mission brings some of them into the fold who, if they don't die permanently on the field, earn experience toward a better rank that passively awards bonus stats to endurance, dogfight accuracy, and evasion. Of course, the effect won't be more significant than the player's skill in combat, but at least it's a reward for performing well in missions. That said, there will always be more recruits to fill in any missing gaps and there will be on occasion several opportunities to save any pilots missing in action.
Developed by bitComposer Games based in Frankfurt, Air Conflicts: Vietnam won't take any particular political stance apart from a neutral one. It will, however, be one-sided to the American perspective. Players won't be visibly shooting down Vietnamese people, per se, but they will target AA guns and poor hamlets strewn throughout the heavily forested environment. Apart from the single-player campaign, there will also be a multiplayer mode for up to eight players.
Controlling the various planes like the F-100 Super Sabre and the F-105 Thunderchief, equipped with a M61 Vulcan, Mark 81 bombs, and AIM 9 Sidewinders missiles, is easy enough with the twin sticks. The helicopter adds a descent and ascent function by way of the face buttons. True to form, none of the aircraft have lock-on weapons, though they will have an unrealistic evasive maneuver that's hilarious to spam.
The hands-on demo for Air Conflicts: Vietnam was a beta build, so the developers hope to polish the graphics for the final retail release set for Fall 2013 on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.