Another Flight Simulator
Air Warrior II follows most of its predecessors in the genre by having blocky graphics, annoying sounds, and complex gameplay. With an accurate depiction of various battle areas and planes during WWI, WWII, and the Korean War, authenticity is a key factor.
If you have never played a flight simulator before, you might not be used to the polygonal real-time rendered graphics, a common "trademark" of many current flight simulators. Everything, including landscapes, trees, and aircrafts are noticeably polygonal. Again, compared to many flight simulators the game's graphics aren't bad. The gameplay is smooth even up to high resolutions (the highest possible is 1024 x 768). I had no problem at 640x480 on a P120.
All pre-rendered art is good enough to pass. The cockpit basically represents your basic interior of a fighter plane (of course, this is from the eyes of someone who has never seen a plane used in any war in his life). Planes (pre-rendered of course) look very similar to their real life equivalents. In addition to being able to view the pre-rendered planes, you can also view a lot of historical information, both about the war and different aircrafts.
One thing that Air Warrior II has a lot of is background information. You can view a wide array of planes that are available throughout the game, depending on in which war you are currently engaged. When starting a mission or campaign, you have the option of flying in 4 different theaters of operations: WWI, the Korean War, WWII in the Pacific, and WWII in Europe. You can also choose which side to fight with (e.g. Axis or Allies). Depending on which operation you are in, a different number of missions and campaigns will be available. These range from missions such as learning how to take off and land your plane to more advanced scenarios like Bomber escort, taking out enemy bombers, and even bombing the enemy yourself.
Sure, when thinking about flying these missions you might get excited, but when actually playing the game you will probably be a little disappointed. Gameplay is not back-to-back action. There is a lot of waiting around, flying from waypoint to waypoint. Actually fighting with the enemy is difficult and getting your plane to maneuver does take some skill. Don't turn too hard (on advanced skill levels) because the g-force will cause you to "red-out" and lose control. A key factor in being a good pilot is to know how to synchronize the keyboard movements with the joystick.
Like many fight simulators, control can be very complex. I recommend a joystick for the highest level of realism, but the option is there to use whatever you like. When playing, you must know (or at least have a list handy) many keyboard strokes for options not supported by your joystick. For example: rudder controls (some joysticks do support this), brakes, autopilot, landing gear, and many other trivial commands. All in all the gameplay might seem a little hard at first, but it is easy to get used to after only a little bit of playing.
Sounds do get annoying. The buzz of the plane's engine and firing of its guns seem to be the only sounds heard throughout each mission, and tend to get monotonous. There are other sounds however: explosions, crashing, radio, but these are played more sparingly.
Supported via modem to modem, the Internet (CompuServe) or by network, the ability to support Multiplayer is a nice feature. I predict that there won't be a huge demand for playing Air Warrior II Multiplayer (we have Warbirds for that), so don't purchase this game just because of its networkablility.
I recommend Air Warrior II to those historical nuts that want to re-live the war and feel like pilots fighting Nazis in WWII. If all you want is a fun game, pass this up. On the other hand if you are looking for a realistic flight simulation, you might want to give it a try.