The original Aces of the Luftwaffe was a bit rubbish. It was the mobile game literally picked up and slapped on to PS4, flipped 90 degrees and put up for sale. It was terrible.
Thankfully the game is now vertical scrolling again which makes all the difference. It’s also had a graphical overhaul. Gone are the pixel sprites and in are sharp cartoonish graphics. Personally, I prefer the pixel graphics. These newfangled cartoon graphics seem to have no soul. But graphics mean nothing if the game plays like a rusty Spitfire. Thankfully the game doesn’t fall flat. It’s fast-paced and offers more than just dodging bullets and collecting power-ups.
Each of the 25 levels offers something different to do, a second objective as it were, albeit basic tasks. These secondary missions can vary from shooting a certain number of ground units, or avoiding spotlights. But the real interesting changes come from your squadron. You see, no matter if you’re playing solo or with four people you’ll always have four aircraft on screen. While playing solo, something can happen to one of our squadron members like come down with an illness so you have to fly slow, or one of your crew gets a rage on and go tearing around the screen so you have to avoid them for a time limit. All the while this going on you’re still trying to dodge the megaton of bullets and enemies coming your way. They are small changes but do help mix things up a bit.
Along with the power-ups you’ll find when shooting down the enemy, you’ll also find medals which are essentially experience points. Collect enough and you can upgrade yourself or anyone of your crew. Generally, these upgrades help build up a pilots health or damage but sometimes you can unlock special abilities for the team. This is great in single player but really comes into its own when you’re going gung-ho with four players, offering a surprising amount of depth for a shmup
It’s not all a bed of bullets though. No shooter will be worth its salt if it didn’t have power-ups to aid you in your quest, and Aces has them in abundance. The trouble is they don’t really feel like they are making that much difference. It feels like taking out planes when your fully powered up is just the same as shooting your main gun… Not only that, these power-ups are not particularly visually arresting either. I mean when you get a power-up you want to know about it and be blinded by some chaos on screen pyrotechnics, the power-ups in Aces are just a little bit, well, meh.
The story also is just as uninspiring, which isn’t helped at all by some terrible voice acting, So bad in fact that I just had to keep skipping the story scenes. That can’t ever be a good thing.
Aces of the Luftwaffe is one of those games that you can pick up in between your other gaming exploits. Great for quick short blasts if you need a break from shooting zombies or, in my case assassinating people in ancient Egypt. It’s just a nice mix-up. Although it’s not the most spectacular game you will play there is plenty here to keep you occupied, especially if you have four chums ready to crowd around a TV. It’s a pity the story and acting is so weak and for me, I wish they had kept the pixel graphics from the previous version. If you have some spare minutes between games or outings or work, then Aces of the Luftwaffe is a good enough game to choose to fill those gaps.
Aces of the Luftwaffe – Squadron is out now on PlayStation 4 (reviewed) Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and PC
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a review code from the publishers. For our full review policy please go here.