'Sid Meier's Ace Patrol' review
Why am I playing this and how did the game start?
Now here is a game I was not expecting. A turn based strategy game by the great Sid Meiers which is not civ or anything of the sort. Sid Meiers has diverted away from his great civilisation building game in the past with the utterly addictive 'pirates' which I had great difficulty to stop playing so I was almost in tears of joy when I discovered this little gem for pc. Yes indeed it appears to mainly be intended for iOS users but upon discovering a game focusing on WW1 aerial combat I could not help but leap at the chance to grab it from Steam, jump into my Sopwith Camel and take to the skies. Sadly my Sopwith Camel seemed to be experiencing some engine troubles as instead of the game starting after purchase I was shown an error message declaring that the app was already running. I tried to start the game over and over again but received the same error message. Somewhat deflated I typed the issue into google to find that it was not just me. After a little forum hopping I managed to find a solution advising me to disable the 'steam in-game community' under the properties tab in the game's drop-down menu. This thankfully worked though this is an issue which could do with being ironed out. The experience begins with a short intro film which feels more like a preview advertising the game rather than a door opening to allow us to step into WW1. This aside, it does do it's job to introduce us to the basics of what we may be experiencing with it's in-game footage.
The game itself.
Lets put to one side the rather rickety start and focus on what it is all about. With four nations to choose from players can dive into the action on either side of the trenches be it Britain, USA, France or Germany. The nation selection screen also shows us some charming and colourful images of the planes our pilots may be flying so if you don't really care who you play as you can just select the nation with the prettiest planes.
Your very first pilot.
After this we then get to select our main pilot, choose a trait for them and pick some manoeuvres to aid them in combat. This pilot will become one of four in your squadron and shall most likely either become the main ace with the most experience because of their head-start or be spending a lot of time on the airfield fixing their lead-filled plane after their baptism of fire.
Manoeuvres and traits.
It does well to choose your manoeuvres and traits wisely. For example – do you want your pilot to be able to nimbly dodge anti aircraft damage? Or ,for the more reckless of you, would you rather they survived crashes with no injury? These traits will have a large impact on battles and will govern the way the pilot will fly and their success rate. It also pays to remember that each pilot can only have one trait. Depending on how well you do you will be able to grant your other three pilots their own traits. I find it is useful to have four pilots with four different traits to give you more options in the air. The manoeuvres are, in a way, the backbone of the game. These are almost like collectable cards which each pilot can be awarded after performing well in missions. Like the traits we get two sets of manoeuvres to give to our main ace who we picked at the start which gives the lucky fellow a nice head start. Some manoeuvres come in sets. These are basic manoeuvres which will help your pilot take as little damage as possible or turn to face an enemy pilot quickly. Then there are ace manoeuvres. These just come on their own but are the really fancy skills which may just get you out of a close shave in the nick of time or bring down that annoying pilot on your tail.
Onto the airfield.
There are two main screens in this game. The battlefield and the airfield. The airfield is like the pits at the side of an F1 track and the battlefield is the track itself. The airfield is easy to work out with a few statistics for your squadron and various options which allow you to see your pilots, select your difficulty, save the game etc. Also there is very little chance of 'forgetting to upgrade that plane' or 'forgetting to promote that pilot' as the relevant option will throb on the screen until you click it. I find this little kind of thing useful as I would hate to go into battle only to remember that half my planes aren't really battle ready.
Hoorah! My favourite part! Here is where everything falls into place and the traits and manoeuvres really show their use. After selecting your mission from a choice of three and choosing the pilots you would like to take on said mission it is time to prove your worth in the skies. Your planes are controlled via arrows which represent the various manoeuvres which your pilot has learned. You start the game with some very basic manoeuvres but thankfully the AI is generally well matched and can only do the same as your own. To select the manoeuvre you wish to perform you must select the appropriate arrow if it be banking to the left or simply flying straight ahead. You must also take note of your height in the air. Some manoeuvres may allow you to rise and some to dip. Both of these may be used to your advantage in combat as sometimes bearing down from a great height may assist you in combat or perhaps cutting underneath your enemy will give you the edge. This will also work for your enemy so watch out! The whole battle system is absolutely perfect in my opinion and there is very little I would change. So much hinges on using the correct manoeuvre at the right time and you quickly become very aware that one poor move could end in spiralling down to the ground with smoke belching from your tail. Some missions are generous enough to grant you some clouds which you can use to your tactical advantage by hiding within them and bursting out behind an enemy fighter but again, the enemy is wise and will do this also.
There is so much more I could say about this little gem of a game but I am very aware that I have rambled for a rather long time. This game not only has the great 'Sid Meiers' name attached to it but it includes all the fun, addictive game play we would expect. It may be focusing on a smaller subject than civ but this has not reduced the hours I have spent levelling up my squadron and playing through the missions. Not only does this game offer brilliant tactical game play which requires some amount of thought but it also sports some charming graphics, colourful models and realistic sound effects. This is a game which could be easily over-looked but I would say if it be on your iOS device or your pc – give it a go. Many thanks for reading.
I find Germany the most tempting … the yellow one is pretty.
This is where it all happens – get used to this screen.
Combat also includes some great camera angles which put you right in the action.