An Ace Down The hole
HIGH The co-op.
LOW The trick flying.
WTF Someone was going hard on the story.
Pulling things from history and placing it in the entertainment realm is proposition that some people take quite seriously. Or not.
Welcome to my review of Red Wings.
The story of Red Wings is centered around the infamous Red Baron from WWI, and the player takes the role of someone in the same squadron as this notorious ace.
The gameplay offers 3D dogfighting with a heavy leaning towards the arcade side of things with maneuvers like looping-the-loop and barrels rolls treated as special moves, and each with a cooldown. Major missions are focused on taking down enemies as quickly as possible or with keeping a combo meter going. Ammo is infinite but fuel can run out, and the player may need to refuel from balloons floating in the air.
On completion of a level, the player is awarded between 1 and 3 stars depending on their performance, and these stars can be spent to upgrade damage, specials, or defense abilities. All of these are important as the campaign introduces new enemies with armor, specials of their own, and even hulking zeppelins, festooned with turrets.
The feeling of nipping through the air, finding an enemy, pulling the thrust low to settle in behind and then lighting them up with my guns never got old. On the other hand, breaking up a game’s pacing with meaningful deviations is a tricky thing to do, but it’s key in avoiding the problem of offering just one mechanic and drilling it into the ground.
Sadly, Red Wings struggles with this as they introduce bombing runs and missions in which the player’s plane is rapidly running out of fuel in an effort to break up the dogfighting.
The bombing runs are mostly harmless, played in a top-down mode that requires dropping shells in time, and it’s actually better in co-op when the second player is tasked with defending the bomber from enemy planes. The fuel run, however, is a chore that might be a quit-worthy showstopper for some players. Rather than being a fresh diversion in Red Wings, it kills the enjoyment of it.
Also jarring is the story, which takes things deadly seriously by talking about the horrors of war, men not returning home, and the difficulties of conflict. It feels so out of place next to the arcadey missions that have players gunning down dozens of enemies at a time.
Most of the rough edges in Red Wings are mitigated by the splitscreen multiplayer – it’s a joy to fly alongside another player and come up with tactics on how to approach each new challenge, and the worst levels become a matter of knuckling down and suffering through them together. I would have loved some online support, but sadly there is none.
Red Wings is a perfect example of classic mid-tier development — it doesn’t do a lot, but what it delivers is mostly solid. Fans of arcade-style romps will likely get a great deal of enjoyment here, but sim enthusiasts will be better off steering clear.
Disclosures: This game is developed by All In! Games and published by All In! Games. It is currently available on Switch, PC, XBO and PS4. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the XBO-X. Approximately 6 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the first campaign was completed. 6 hours of play were spent in local multiplayer modes.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E10 and contains Fantasy Violence, Mild Language, Alcohol And Tobacco Reference. The game itself is completely harmless as the planes explode into little puffs and make cutesy sound effects. However, the story itself is heavy and might perturb younger kids — they might want to just skip over it.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: The game is fully playable without sound. Text cannot be resized, nor can the color be changed.
Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable, but the Y axis can be inverted.