I must admit that I love a bit of arcade flying action when it comes to the flight genre, I can appreciate sims but I don’t find them as fun as blowing stuff up in an aircraft so armed to the teeth that even the crew of Airwolf would be jealous. It isn’t surprising then that I was more than happy to jump into the cockpit of Air Conflicts Vietnam, coming from the guys that developed Thunder Wolves I expected a similar experience. What I didn’t bank on was a game that tries to straddle both sides of the flight genre.

You don't have much control over the pitch, roll and yaw

You don’t have much control over the pitch, roll and yaw

As the title suggests, the game is set in wartime Vietnam. The gameplay doesn’t stray too far from the standard fly and shoot mechanic of similar flight games but with missions feeling a little too short in places and the gameplay rather repetitive, thankfully the addition of helicopters, a large variety of aircraft and a squadron that you may switch between mid-mission, helps to keep things a little fresh.

Like most flying games that I play, I prefer to use my Saitek Pacific AV8R flightstick, unfortunately not only is the stick unsupported but due to the lack of aircraft maneuverability it’s useless. So, back to the joy pad I go and although helicopters allow you to use both sticks to control pitch and direction, the same luxury isn’t granted to planes. Forget being able to control the roll, pitch and yaw – you simply point the aircraft in the direction you want to go. The right and left bumper allow you to pull off an evade maneuver and by pressing both of them together you can barrel roll. Now I realise I voiced a love for arcade flight games but I found ACV’s controls far too limiting and I would have preferred to control the pitch and yaw of the plane manually.

ACV has a great soundtrack, similar in style to the tunes of Battlefield Bad Company 2 Vietnam, they will have you bouncing along gleefully. You might want to turn down the sound effect volume so you can hear them better and as good as the choice in music is, it’s limited with the same songs on repeat more often than I’d have liked.

For those of you that have a 3DTV, it’s worth noting that ACV comes with stereoscopic 3D. I experienced a slight bit of ghosting, especially on the HUD which made the radar particularly difficult to view. I’m sure ghosting could have been reduced if there was an option to decrease the intensity of the 3D, sadly you can only choose whether to have it on or off. The game environment looked good in 3D especially when you take your plane into a step dive.

There's a very confused set of ideas lurking somewhere in ACV

There’s a very confused set of ideas lurking somewhere in ACV

While flight controls heavily favour the arcade player, combat seems to mix up no-brainer missile launches to precise strikes mainly with the unguided Hydra rockets of your Helicopter. Another strange choice to combat is allowing your cannons to auto lock – we all expect Sidewinders to lock-on, but cannons! This makes the finesse of aerial dogfights a thing of the past, good news for some but it removes the thrill of a dogfight and the skill needed to shoot down a fighter with just cannon fire.

For the most part lock-on works perfectly fine but there’s no ability to cycle through targets meaning you’re at the mercy of what target is chosen for you – something that severely holds back the combat. The lock-on is also quite twitchy meaning that targets will lose their lock-on as easily as they found it, especially on ground units. Unguided missiles versus AA guns can be particularly annoying with the jerky controls doing you no favours – many a rocket will fly well wide of its intended destination. Another strange addition to the combat physics is that Sidewinder missiles won’t always reach their intended target, a quick stop at the main menu option screen allows you to tweak their accuracy.

On several missions I found that ground troops were so well dug in that they were hidden from my HUD tracking and my own eagle eyes! Now I realise that the Viet Cong were adept at using the jungle to hide but this is ridiculous. Very quickly my helicopter had more holes in it than a piece of Swiss cheese! Another limit to the combat is the aerial cage that you are placed in, to make things worse enemy planes can freely exit the cage at their own whim leaving you stuck to perform tight turns or risk an auto return flight path that can sometimes return control of your plane as you stare at the face of a hill!

During each mission you can also take control of any aircraft in your squadron making this more than just a solo shoot ‘em up, holding the right bumper enables you to switch between aircraft, vital when you need to clear out a LZ so you can land a Transport Chopper.

I couldn't find a single multiplayer lobby

I couldn’t find a single multiplayer lobby

Multiplayer has three modes to choose from which can be played on three maps – three is the magic number it seems! Each map may be played in various weather conditions and you can select any aircraft as dictated by the host, outfitting each with a variety of weaponry. Capture the flag mode seems the most fun, with each team needing to grab a flag from the enemy aircraft carrier and return it to their own – I say seems because I couldn’t find a single person online to play with!

Somewhere there is a great arcade game hidden among some odd choices that make the ACV feel clunky in places. While it will certainly appeal to those who prefer their flight games ‘extra lite’, those who want the thrill of having full control over a plane might find themselves far too frustrated by ACV’s shortcomings.

All in all, ACV makes for a confusing mix of ideas, dipping its toe into both sim and arcade but not enough to make this game appeal strongly to either fan, sim fans will be frustrated over its limited controls and arcade fans will be frustrated by the lack of OTT combat and explosions.

The final spit that’s missing from ACV’s polish is the somewhat drab graphics. For a retail game I expect more, particularly so far into this generation. It would fit perfectly into the arcade where lower graphics are generally easier to forgive, although it’s worth remembering that this is a budget title and despite its shortcomings Air Conflicts Vietnam is still good for a play through.

Review - Air Conflicts: Vietnam
The good
  • Easy no brainer flight game
  • Good variety to aircraft
  • 3D
The bad
  • Doesn't know whether it wants to be a flight sim or arcade shooter
  • Squiffy lock-on
  • Little replayability
45%Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)

About The Author

Rich has reviewed over 50 games for the site covering everything from the top titles to the not so top titles *cough Ride to Hell. Rich is passionate about gaming and loves to tell everyone what he thinks about the platform and the games he's played.