App Reviewed on: iPad Pro
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Aces of the Luftwaffe Squadron is a vertical shooter that takes place in an alternate version of World War II where Germany has secret technology that empowers them to bring their fight to American airspace. This absurd story sits at the forefront of the game, as well as a bunch of mechanics and systems that try to make it feel like more than just a typical shooter. In the end though, these efforts to try and make Aces of the Luftwaffe stand out mostly do it a disservice.
In the style of classics like 1942, Aces of the Luftwaffe is a top-down shooter where you pilot aircraft by moving them around a screen that is automatically scrolling upward. As the screen advances, enemy fighters appear on screen and you need to shoot them down while dodging any attacks that may come your way.
Piloting your craft in Aces of the Luftwaffe is simple enough. You just drag your finger around the screen and your plane will follow suit. What is a little more complicated though is that this game features three AI companions that cluster around your fighter that you also have to manage in addition to your own plane. These fighters can aid you in battle with additional firepower, plus some additional skills and abilities they bring to encounters.
The core of Aces of the Luftwaffe Squadrons centers around this idea of flying in a formation of four on missions. As a result, the game goes out of its way to try and develop characters around each of your ally pilots, giving them voiced lines, skill trees, and even character quirks that sometimes rear their heads in the middle of levels.
Although all of this sounds great, most of it ends up feeling pretty inconsequential, if not annoying. Your ally pilots themselves are all wooden stereotypes, and their individual abilities don’t feel don’t seem have a huge effect on the moment to moment gameplay. Despite these attempts to flesh out your companions in various ways, all of the squad-based components of Aces of the Luftwaffe fall flat.
If you simply ignore your squad mates, you can still have a decent time with Aces of the Luftwaffe. This is because the game makes genuine attempts to create levels with more objectives than just “stay alive and kill as many things as possible.” Some levels may ask you to fly stealthily to avoid being spotted or fly over specific spots to airdrop supplies to troops waiting below.
Not all of these level designs work well, but their presence saves Aces of the Luftwaffe from its otherwise painful mediocrity. It’s just too bad that this somewhat bright spot is also marred by annoying boss design and a visual style that can sometimes make it hard to see when you’re getting hit by enemy fire.
The bottom line
Aces of the Luftwaffe Squadron is an ok shooter that would be better with fewer distracting elements. The only thing these add-ons do is gesture at a better, more engaging experience that isn’t really there.