Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Let's just play Ace Combat 6 and pretend this never happened.

Many armchair flyboys, self included, are looking for ways to pass time between now and March 3, when HAWX (I choke a little every time I say it) arrives like a glowing piece of debris, hot to the touch. Some, self definitely included, are revisiting Namco/Bandai’s excellent Ace Combat 6; some are going even further back in the series. Others may see Over G Fighters, released in 2006, collecting dust on a shelf and think hey, there’s a jet on the front. Maybe I should –


Do not.

I don’t know who made it. I don’t know where it came from. But Over G Fighters is easily the worst flight game I’ve ever played. Perhaps “flight” is a strong word; you do appear to be in air, yes, but a homogeneous puree of terrain textures creates a sense of not going anywhere. There’s little controller feedback, no contrails whipping off your wingtips, nothing to give the sense of speed so powerfully evident in HAWX and Ace Combat 6.

And about flying – you can’t. Really. Instead of banking, your jet affects a whimpy little tilt that moves you along the x-axis. No spine-crunching bank-and-dive maneuvers here, kids. You’re driving a plane that won’t invert.

As if shitty mechanics weren’t enough, the game’s presentation is slapdash and amateurish. Menus are a jumble of buttons and text that, frankly, looks to be Times. There’s apparently some sort of story that names you as part of an outfit called Energy Airforce, which sounds both unimaginative and absurd, but I didn’t bother looking into it. Four seconds off the deck of a fuzzy aliased-to-hell aircraft carrier were all it took to diagnose this game as irredeemable shit.

Perplexingly, Over G Fighters is the only game thus far to model blackouts and redouts, which are physical conditions resulting from positive and negative g-force, respectively. It’s sad that a thoughtful feature got folded into such a awful game.

When I decided to end it all and poke my nose into the nearest frigate, the guy in my backseat howled, “What are you doing?” What indeed. I tossed the disc behind my head and fired up the HAWX demo for the nth time.