ESRB rating: Teen
Review rating: 4.0 stars
WWII games are plentiful, but the WWI era has hardly been scratched. While it makes sense to create a WWI strategy game, Fireaxis has taken it a step further and crafted the first turn-based dogfighting strategy game. As a fan of the WWI era, the strategy genre and flying games, I was anxious to dive into "Sid Meier's Ace Patrol."
Promising virtual pilots have four campaigns to choose from: American, British, French, and German. Each campaign begins with players learning the ropes by undertaking simple missions in a simplistic airplane, and the difficulty increases with each mission. Eventually, players control a small squadron of fighters in a variety of offensive and defensive missions. Too bad they quickly become repetitive.
While the mission structure could use more variety, the actual game play is a blast! During each turn, players can see arrows onscreen that show which maneuvers their plane can perform. These range from climbing and diving, to turning and attacking. Performing well earns promotions, and players can choose new abilities like rolls and loops that give them a big advantage.
Simply click on an arrow and the plane will perform that maneuver. One feature I really like is how the estimated damage for each offensive move is shown as a percentage before it is performed. This lets me decide if the maneuver is worth undertaking, especially if it puts me in a vulnerable position.
Sure the game play may sound simplistic, but several strategic factors make it more difficult. For example, any plane can fly into a cloud and disappear, meaning it can't be attacked. In addition, too much damage to a plane and/or being shot down will force the pilot to sit out a few missions. This makes each unit extremely valuable, forcing players to carefully evaluate each move.
Surprisingly, "Sid Meier's Ace Patrol" is a great foray into a new sub-genre.