Aces of the Luftwaffe (PS4) Review
Aces of the Luftwaffe depicts World War II as Dynasty Warriors of the sky. German air forces mass together to face down their puny British opposition with incalculable, implausible numbers. The fuel expenses alone would bankrupt Germany, let alone the ammunition.
There is a sense of scale, even if Aces of the Luftwaffe displays the scenario with pudgy, even adorable pixel art planes. Each would be at home in Disney's Cars universe. Stubby wings, portly glass, teensy propellers; the planes are asking to be pinched by someone's grandmother.
Lost, though, is a sense of menace. Nazi-but-not-Nazi forces amass an army of zeppelins, ghost planes, mega-bombers, and others in their battle for world domination. Each boss ship comes piloted by a narrative stereotype – the wacky Nazi scientist, the square-jawed muscle head pilot – who spew a few lines of accented English before dying in a flurry of explosions. A catchy, small time military march drums in the background as a heroic salute to victory. One of three selectable heroes then references Star Wars, Game of Thrones, or Mario Bros. before moving forward. It's all so cute. Weird when considering the real world historical context, but cute.
Creating Aces of Luftwaffe with cartoonish pep gives it life over its many inspirations
Developer Handy Games can be found in Germany - Aces of the Luftwaffe is thus a mildly contemplative piece. After all, Handy has designed a video game where players shoot the studio's own countrymen. Germans can clearly poke fun at their abhorrent wartime record. A few generations out from conflict allows such a kooky, self-referential viewpoint, but not so much for other countries. Japan is not regularly in the interactive World War II market, and from the perspective of the States, no local developer will shift away from the heroics of their home territory. Creating Aces of the Luftwaffe with cartoonish pep gives it life over its many inspirations: This is an abstract of Capcom's 1942, yet lighter.
Aces of Blunders
But the rest? It's a mess-terpiece. Ported from mobile, Aces of the Luftwaffe deserves chagrin, dismal in execution and sloppily brought up from neck-pinching phones/tablets to the TV. Aces of the Luftwaffe is a vertical shooter. Except on PlayStation 4, it's horizontal. But still vertical. The art, the dialogue; everything indicates traditional vertical alignment. There are no options to flip the screen to the appropriate orientiation.
Aces of the Luftwaffe is now premium only. The unadjusted grind is exhausting.
Clashing aesthetics bring in assets of countless resolutions, with rendered clouds rising over block-by-block pixel homes representing Britain. Positive and then crushing currency systems are constructed for a freemium shooter, except Aces of the Luftwaffe is now premium only. The unadjusted grind is exhausting. PS4 optimization does not consider the lack of a touch screen either. Dodging bullets requires the slippery speed of a capacitive screen, not a d-pad.
It would be sensible to levy this cavity of faults on Handy Game's rookie mistakes – except the studio is no rookie. This is not even their first design expedition into World War II. (The cutest for sure, but not the first.) However, this is Handy's inaugural adventure onto consoles after drifting through iOS, Android, Windows, and Ouya marketplaces. This studio's pedigree is apparent without considering the resume. Aces of the Luftwaffe bleeds out from the puncture wounds caused by a cheapening mobile space and a resistance to change in order to suit the platform.
All of the clever, darling art work made to differentiate the game is shriveled effort. Aces of the Luftwaffe even has cows on the ground and cows can fix almost anything, yet mooing bovines won't cover the origins of mobile. The power of cows is, sadly, limited.