Mayday, mayday, we have a problem. Let me start by saying that I’m not necessarily against the current trend of previous generation games making their way to the new consoles, I just think that there has to be a point for it happening. The Last Of Us Remastered gave access to one of the finest titles ever to a group of gamers who transitioned from the Xbox 360 to Playstation 4. The Metro series Redux editions look like huge step up from the older versions, with not only graphical and performance improvements but also gameplay refinements too, all for a bargain price.
This brings us onto Air Conflicts: Vietnam Ultimate Edition. Originally released in 2012 for PC and PS3, it seems to have done poorly in most reviews, with Metacritic scores of 43 and 35 for the PC and PS3 version respectively. On the face of it then, a curious choice to remaster and re-release, surely? The press release accompanying the game makes some bold claims, stating that there is “a lot of improvements, such as improved controls and a revamped enemy AI…Bigger maps, an enhanced particle system and fresh sound effects will deliver a stunning PlayStation®4 experience.” Additionally, we’re promised, “Air Conflicts: Vietnam Ultimate Edition delivers an additional brand new campaign that shows the player the other side of the conflict as a north Vietnamese pilot.” Sounds like they’ve put a lot of work in, but does that come across in the final product? Well, no. The graphics and performance are, frankly, a travesty absolutely unbefitting of a position on a new generation console. I’d even go as far as to say it’s quite spectacularly ugly. Textures are poor and low res, the ground below a turgid mess, explosions that look like they’ve been drawn in Microsoft Paint. There’s a fair amount of detail on the planes themselves, but look anywhere else and it’s like GBH to the eyes. Despite the added power of the new gen console, performance is extremely poor. Pop-in plagues the title, with trees appearing from nowhere. A high level of screen tear was also very apparent throughout my playthrough. Frame rate regularly dips into unacceptable levels too, and frustratingly not just during quickly moving sequences. As early as the second level, an attack on a small group of stationary ground forces turned into a flipbook-esque mess. Dogfights can quickly turn into abject frustrations as you attempt to battle against not only enemies, but also seemingly single digit frame rates. The audio in Air Conflicts Vietnam are a mixed bag. The soundtrack is fitting for the time period, however the very limited number of tracks soon become a frustration, and the fact that each band sounds like a Kings Of Leon covers band may well have some searching for a way to stop in-game music.. The gun fire effects are poor though, synthetic and hollow with no depth or power to them. Another issue comes with the gameplay, which doesn’t seem to vary much from a structure of:
- Get instructions to bomb a target
- Start bombing the target
- Fight off a bunch of MIGs that intercept you bombing the target
- Finish bombing the target
Occasionally there’s a break in this where you take control of a side gunner in helicopter, asked to clear enemy combatants from the area below, but even this is dull. The vast majority of the enemies are stationary and the few tanks are easily dispatched, so these sections soon turn into nothing more than a simple shooting gallery, requiring no skill to complete. There’s an interesting mechanic in that if a helicopter or plane crashes, before the next mission you’ll be given the opportunity to rescue the pilot. You’re given a tight time frame in which to clear the area of enemies and land a chopper for the stricken pilot to escape in. Despite the decent concept, the section is ruined by a fairly dreadful bug. On more than one occasion I have destroyed the surrounding enemies, landed the chopper, had the soldier jump aboard, see a ‘Objective complete’ message pop up, only for my Chinook to suddenly and inexplicably explode. Extremely frustrating, and should have been picked up during development. Control of the various aircraft on offer here is also substandard, and the helicopters and planes have strangely polarizing issues. Jets seem to have no weight to them, feeling like the turn far too quickly, while helicopters are the opposite, coming across as weighty and difficult to shift. Both equally detract from the potential enjoyment of piloting these craft. There’s one positive in this title, and it was an unexpected one. The story underpinning the campaign isn’t the standard pro-American jingoism I expect, and our narrator is plagued with moral concerns over what tolls the war is taking, to country and even the enemy combatants. There’s also letters from family members, instilling a feel for what life must be lie for those whose loved ones are fighting in the theatre of war. Another interesting feature is that headtracking so, if you have the Playstation 4 camera accessory, in order to look around you can simply move your head. Like the majority of the game though the implementation is quite poor, and regularly my viewpoint was being dramatically changed for no reason. Worse still were the repeated times where my viewpoint started violently shaking, making the game extremely difficult to play. Great idea, terrible result. Finally, there is a multiplayer aspect to Air Conflicts Vietnam but I’m unable to test it due to a non-existent player base. This is worth noting if you’re a platinum trophy hunter, as several are attached to multiplayer related activities.
In all, it’s impossible to recommend Air Conflicts Vietnam Ultimate Edition. Despite the solid and occasionally very touching themes underpinning the story, the poor gameplay, repetitive mission structure, dreadful graphics and rotten performance far outweigh any positives. If you’re desperate for an air combat game on the PS4 you’re advised to download the free to play War Thunder, a far superior title.
MLG Rating: 2/10 Format: Xbox360/PS3/PC Release Date: Out Now
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of Air Conflicts Vietnam : Ultimate Edition by the Publisher for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of one weeks on a PS4. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.