Developer: Simfrontier
Price: $5.99
Version Reviewed: 2.04
Device Reviewed On: iPad

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★☆☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

Among many other things, World War II was famous for popularizing the use of aircraft in warfare for the first time. While previous skirmishes had involved a few planes buzzing about here and there, WWII was the first time all combatants genuinely began to harness the power of planes as instruments of battle. Air Battle of Britain attempts to recapture this spirit, and while it succeeds in a few respects it also falls well short in others.

Air Battle of Britain does a great job telling the story of the aerial war taking place between British and German forces. The thorough, well-researched accounts of the battles, augmented by period film clips will leave history buffs floored and likely really excite plane enthusiasts. While those who know little of the battles may feel a bit over their head, aficionados will absolutely lap this stuff up.

The gameplay itself is uneven, with some fun ideas mostly mired by bad execution. The game is primarily controlled via the accelerometer, and players can twist and turn their iPad to maneuver their aircraft. For those looking for a more stationary experience you can also turn off the accelerometer controls and instead opt for an onscreen flight stick. Both options work just fine but are exceptionally oversensitive at their default settings. You’ll have to bail out of many missions (there’s no option to tune controls mid-flight), tinker with the settings then jump back in to try them and see if they’re to your liking. It’s very irritating, but when you finally hit the sweet spot the game hums along nicely.

There’s no such upside for the visuals, all of which are blocky, lo-res and dull. Yes, the planes do look like their real-life counterparts, but they lack any sort of pop. Even worse, when you manage to shoot down an enemy it’s hard to tell if his engine is on fire or he’s just smoking a cigar in the cockpit, so weak are the visuals.

On top of all that are some pretty substantive bugs, all of which ruin the experience. There’s zero collision detection so you can easily fly straight through enemy planes, and whenever climbing or diving your aircraft will stick for a few second when pointed straight up or down, wrecking your chase angles and all but killing the experience. This is a game that gets the history and basic mechanics right but misses on everything else, so really think about how much you enjoy the genre or the source material before taking to the skies.

Posted in: iPad Apps and Games, iPad Games, Reviews

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