Air Conflicts: Secret Wars – Ultimate Edition (PS4)

Air Conflicts – Secret Wars returns on the current generation of consoles with an Ultimate Edition for the PS4. How it does fare, five years later?

Every now and then, amidst the ongoing stream of remasters, we see a title that raises an eyebrow. Air Conflicts – Secret Wars is one such title, as it’s been half a decade since the release of the original game and it’s a game that most will have forgotten by now, as it wasn’t exactly an instant classic back then either.

Being a fan of aerial dogfighting, I did play the game back then – as I did the HAWX and Ace Combat games. This current generation of consoles hasn’t seen many (or really any) similar games, so I was interested in playing the ‘ultimate edition’ to see which improvements have been made. Sadly, it turned out there weren’t that many.

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Visually, it’s hard to tell 2016’s version of Air Conflicts apart from the PS3/X360 original. What looked like a decent effort back in 2011 now looks like a budget production, but unfortunately it’s not priced accordingly – sitting at a mid-level price point. Also intact is a lack of diversity in its mission structure, with the various missions soon blending together.

Luckily there’s a story that interconnects the missions, and it’s a somewhat interesting romp if you’re interested in WW1 and WW2 fiction – even if the writing isn’t stellar. Controls are fairly simple, as they were back in the day, making Air Conflicts a more arcade-like shooter rather than something leaning towards the flight sim end of the spectrum – although a few tweaks exist to make the game a bit more challenging.

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The one novelty in this Ultimate Edition is the addition of head tracking, using a Playstation Camera on the PS4. If you didn’t invest in Playstation VR, then this game offers a much cheaper alternative for digging out that camera again. The effect is cool, but more of a novelty than a functional addition to the game – which I suppose is true for a few VR games out there as well. Head tracking in Air Conflicts: Secret Wars isn’t terribly precise, but it’s neat to see the camera move along as you try and peek to see what’s left or right of you.

Head tracking alone can’t save the game though – which ironically also has performance issues with dropping framerates every now and then. For a game that previously ran on (now 10 year old) PS3 technology, that is hard to forgive. If you see the game in a budget bin and want to try out head tracking as a novelty, then be my guest. Otherwise, avoid it – this isn’t the reboot of the aerial dogfighting genre you and I were hoping for.

Score: 4.6/10

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