It’s the year 1942. Those cursed Nazi’s, along with their allies Japan have started a little battle that I like to call World War II and it’s up to you and your pilot buddies to sort them out. Yes, Dogfight 1942 is out and stuffed full of vertigo-inducing action.
The single player campaign in Dogfight 1942 is largely based around historic aerial battles from World War II, including the Pacific Campaign, the Eastern Front, the war in Africa and many dogfights fought in UK airspace.
The game starts with a training mission which revolves around the events of Pearl Harbor. Naturally the famous airbase comes under fire from the Japanese forces as they launch a sneak attack on the unsuspecting American pilots as they smoke ‘luckies’ and talk about girls back home.
You are then thrust into the cockpit of an American plane and walked through the basic maneuvers, whilst defending your base against the attackers.
Historically Dogfight 1942 is very accurate, with the majority of missions following actual missions from World War II. These are relatively varied, ranging from bombing runs, defense and of course, dogfights.
Dogfight 1942 is essentially an air combat game where you take on the role of one of 4 pilots, flying around 20 different planes from the golden age of aviation.
The combat throughout is fast paced and full of action, but accessible enough to remain fun. You control your plane from the 3rd person perspective, so it is easy enough to get your bearings when chasing down enemy craft.
There is also a lock-on function which enables you to pick a specific target for an easy kill. However, it is often easier to slow down and try to get behind your target.
Dogfights with individual planes will often end in a game of chicken where you end up flying directly towards an oncoming craft whilst frantically trying to gun them down before you crash. You can of course pull up to avoid them, but I find my way adds a lot more drama.
If you are used to games like Damage Inc, Blazing Angels, or even the flight sections in Battlefield 1943, you will fit right in here. New players may find the learning curve in the first few missions a little steep, but once you get used to the pace and controls, you shouldn’t have any trouble mastering the game.
There are also two multiplayer modes: Dogfights and Survival. Dogfights are a basic deathmatch where you and your opponent are tasked with shooting down whilst avoiding enemy fire. Fun for a time, but the appeal is quite limited and it’s hard to imagine it becoming a staple in your online diet.
Then there’s Survival Mode which pits you and a partner against endless waves of enemy planes until one or both of you are defeated. I found this a lot more fun and with the right partner and a bit of practice, I could see this mode becoming a keeper.
Looks and Sound
The game environments look lovely and when not in the heat of battle, flight can sometimes be quite serene.
The designers have also clearly worked really hard on recreating some of the more iconic planes of the era. Planes like Britain’s Spitfire and the German Messerschmitt 109 are incredibly accurate and the game allows you to customise your planes by adding camouflage and wing-art.
The music throughout Dogfight 1942 is also rather good but unfortunately this is let down slightly by some naff voice acting from the majority of pilots. Often over-egged and slightly cheesy, paying perhaps too much attention to the racial slurs of the day. You’ll hear lines like “Kill the Japs” and “Take that you Jap b******d” around every 10-20 seconds whilst playing the American campaign. Although this is probably historically accurate and demonstrates the hatred of Japan during World War II, I have to say I found it a little jarring at the beginning of the game.
The Sum Up
Political correctness aside, Dogfight 1942 is a solid example of what air combat games should aspire too. Simple controls that are easy to get to grips with yet rewarding to master, as well as large and wonderfully detailed environments and challenging gameplay against relatively sophisticated AI pilots.
The game is by no means perfect, but if you are a history enthusiast, a lover of aviation or simply looking for a game that is more action than narrative I’m sure you’ll have fun with this.
Dogfight 1942 is available now on Xbox LIVE Arcade for 1200MSP and is due to release on PS3 and PC later this Autumn.