What decent, red-blooded American raised on bad TV (Airwolf, Buck
Rogers, and Firefox) doesn't love a good visceral flight combat
game? Who wouldn't want to command agile, pterygoid
vessels of immense power? The thrill of flying high and pulling crazy maneuvers
in low airspace is always great fun. It's your highway to the danger zone.
these thoughts in mind, I had no problem snatching up Konami's new arcade-style
air combat game Airforce Delta Storm. I also had no problems putting
it back down. Despite good visuals, the control is a little too arcadey, missions
lack a great deal of excitement and the mission structure leaves a lot to be
desired. But at least the story holds up well.
Some time after the 20th century ended, scientists had completed their analysis
of the human genome, giving new insight into the human immune system. Soon,
even the most terminal illnesses was eradicated. Mortality rates dropped, human
longevity increased and as a result we began to severely deplete our planet's
natural resources. The countries with particularly low natural resources rallied
together and formed the United Front (a.k.a the United Forces). Their self-imposed
task was to equally distribute the planet's resources across its many countries.
Of course, this didn't go down well in the countries with abundant resources.
Eventually, harsh words turned to harsh missiles and bombs. This is where you
come in. The plot is obviously far from original but it works.
Essentially, the gameplay is pretty straightforward. Airforce Delta Storm
drops you into an A-7 Corsair II, a modest but potent jet fighter. You
fight your way through 50 missions across hostile territories dispatching land,
sea and air assailants while attempting to cut a swath to your mission objective.
You earn money for completing missions to buy better equipped aircraft (there
are over 70 aircraft in all).
The missions branch, which is nice. After you have been briefed, you can saddle
up and take a gander at the overhead map dotted with hotspots. You get to choose
from a select few destinations, with more to be opened as you complete the existing
ones. The areas connecting these hotspots are like roads or paths.
The problem is that for every time you decide to move to another location,
you expend a movement point. There are many hostile spots on the map that have
absolutely nothing to do with your current mission, so you'll spend a lot of
points traveling through unrelated territories getting hammered and shot-up
only to arrive at your intended objective with your fighter nicely perforated
and your missiles depleted. Then you still need to fight though each area's
complement of fighters and travel back through the area of unrelated
hostiles to reach your airbase. That's a lot of dog fighting for one merc fighter
with no wingmen. As you can imagine, the difficulty and frustration is mighty.
the game has some great visuals, something that has held true for most of the
Xbox launch titles. The aircraft are impressive - the detailed textures are
very realistic and the often talked about Xbox bump-mapping rears its beautiful
head. Cuts and grooves are obvious and appropriate, plus the whole thing jets
along at a smooth 60 frames per second with no hiccups, even during the more
Also, an end mission replay shows your entire mission from cinematic camera
angles. This is kind of neat, but somehow the given camera angles almost always
miss the better part of the battle.
It's too bad the intense battles are few and far between. The enemy isn't very
intelligent; it's like they don't really want to see you go down in flames.
If anything, they're terrible shots. Accuracy is obviously not a prerequisite
for enlisting with the enemy forces.
Augmenting the nice visuals are some great sounds of war. All the fighters
have distinct audio characteristics. Engine sounds roar to command the enemy's
attention when flying low to the ground. A near-miss from any type of ballistic
ordinance whistles by, instilling some good old-fashioned near-death tension.
The radio chatter can be kind of campy, but it's hardly an annoyance.
The music sounds like a theme from some B-movie. It's very bad and horribly
out of place, like blasting Free
to Be You & Me at an Insane
Clown Posse concert.
The control is very arcade-oriented, utilizing one analog stick to perform
all aerial maneuvers, which makes barrel rolls nearly impossible. Intricate
flying with well-timed pitching and yaw stunts is nonexistent. It almost plays
like a 3D version of a classic vertical shooter with waves of mindless enemies.
This limits the gameplay depth and makes it hard to really get into the action.
Airforce Delta Storm is not fatally flawed; it's just not that much
fun. Even with all of its high-flying graphical merits, this is one game that's
best left on the shelf. You might want to rent it, but I'd rather watch Firefox