Konami's Game Boy Color version of Airforce Delta attempts to re-create the slick air combat of its Dreamcast big brother. Unfortunately, any similarities between the two end with the name. The game operates in a third-person, behind-the-jet perspective with a vertical-scrolling orientation similar to the Nintendo 8-Bit classic Top Gun. Combat consists of simple lock-on-and-shoot gameplay using missiles and machine guns. Beyond completing missions, the ability to upgrade jets by selling and buying new rides, are the cornerstones of the game. Our initial reaction is only lukewarm as the framerate and overall control need work. It feels like a token game from Konami, maybe in the hopes of getting a GBA license. Maybe it'll be tightened up by the January release date.
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I've played plenty of flight-combat games on the consoles--and even more true flight sims on PCs--and nothing comes close to matching AirForce Delta's crisp, detailed jet and terrain models or its sense of raw speed. Throttle up to max, skim the earth and you'll see what I'm talking about--this thing moves! But how does it play? Well, don't expect the game's 20 missions to thrill you nearly as much as the visuals. We're talking basic arcade-style stuff here. Most sorties have you taking out scattered ground targets and a few bothersome airborne bogies. Just circle the mission area over and over, unleash missiles at the enemy, repeat until all targets are cleared. You do get a few standout missions, such as a run down a tight canyon and a dash through the cramped innards of an enemy base. The hefty collection of more than 30 airplanes, which you buy after successful missions, helped hold my interest. There's some pretty cool jets here, including futuristic experimental Fighters and even expensive Harrier jump jets that open once you beat the game. It's too bad the jets don't pack virtual cockpits or more viewing options to help you tell 'em apart when you fly 'em. The only time I could eyeball my jets was during the mission replays, which really look way cooler than anything you saw in Top Gun.
It's not realistic enough to be a full-on simulator, and it's not rewarding or fun enough to be an Ace Combat-style arcade game. What's it trying to do? It offers the freedom to fly anywhere, but doesn't offer you the freedom of movement that you crave in the early levels. The weapons effects are pathetic, and blasting bad guys from hundreds of miles away is hardly thrilling. The graphics are slick...but so what? It's just not fun. One to avoid.
Yes, AD is great-looking and mighty fast but that alone doesn't sell the game for me. If it's truly an arcade game then it should behave like one. The explosions aren't exciting plus shooting non-targets doesn't do anything. The emphasis is placed on eliminating targets alone rather than enjoying the destructive power of the jets. Sounds sick but that's half the fun--blowing stuff up that is, not just flying. Even so, flight fans should definitely check it out.
This is an arcade-style flight shooting game much like the original Ace Combat, only prettier. Fly close to the ground or over water and a sense of speed will just rush over you. Especially impressive are the replays you can watch afterward. As a game though, it's pretty basic. Some of the later missions are cool, but don't seem nearly as complex as those in Ace Combat 2 or 3. Worth a rental just to check out what the DC can do with a flight game.